Athletic Compression: Fad or Fact?

Posted by Shannon on May 10th 2022

JUN 8, 2022

Athletic Compression: Fad or Fact?

Analyze the different set of benefits from athletic compression that might be useful to runners or other types of athletes.

Man running in a field, man wearing compression garments while exercising

Benefits of Compression Tops

To understand the full benefit of compression gear, it's important to analyze compression tops and bottoms separately. Each article of clothing provides a different set of benefits that might be useful to different runners or other types of athletes. Compression tops, which are perhaps the most popular item among compression apparel options, have a few distinct benefits that are backed up by science and experience.

  • Compression tops enhance posture by focusing a great deal of extension on the back, forcing athletes to stand up taller and take fuller breaths. As a result, compression tops can lead to easier breathing during particularly strenuous activity.
  • Compression tops also focus on the core, by keeping things tight even when the abs are fatigued. This is a particularly important benefit for avid runners, who may suffer from abdominal fatigue during longer races. With this kind of support, longer runs can still be enjoyable and easier throughout.
  • Compression tops promote a greater flow of oxygen through the muscles, enhancing performance and potentially reducing recovery times after a grueling workout or competition.
Man running on a hike, man wearing compression garments while exercising

Compression Tights & Socks: A Must-Have for Some Athletes

Though not as popular among athletes as compression tops, compression tights are still a significant part of some training programs and represent real potential for athletic performance improvement. How does it work?
  • Compression tights provide the "compression" part of the RICE acronym to proper athletic recovery (rest, ice compress, elevate).
  • Tights reduce wasted energy and cramping by increasing muscle oscillation and flushing lactic acid from the leg muscles. Compression throughout extended running or weight training events can also reduce DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, through these same processes.
  • Injury risk is decreased as athletic performance is increased. Thanks to increased support of muscles and joints, damaging injuries to the calf muscles and ankles are less likely to occur, especially during extended training or distance running.
  • The flow of oxygen is enhanced by the compression applied to leg muscles by compression tights, further reducing recovery time and enhancing performance.
While the compression provided by these tights supports the body throughout the length of the legs (depending on the length), many athletes also use compression socks to localize these benefits to just below the knees. There are many types of compression socks that cater to the needs and desires of athletes. They still provide the same compression benefits but in a more targeted area.
man stretching during his exercise, man wearing Core-Sport compression leg sleeves while exercising

Other Features: A Matter of Personal Preference

Beyond their compression of muscles during athletic performance, compression tights and tops also come with a wide array of other features. Some keep runners warm on cold days using compression tights by keeping a layer between the skin and the ambient air. Other brands focus on pulling sweat away from the body and keeping athletes dry during competition. These additional features aren't necessarily the selling points of traditional compression tops and compression tights, but they certainly represent a big draw for athletes who often have an ideal temperature for training and competition.
woman lifting heavy weights, woman concentrating
By opting for compression gear that provides the right mix of posture support, injury prevention, and overall comfort during competition, athletes of all skill levels can enhance their performance and compete with greater peace of mind in all kinds of events.


CONTRAINDICATIONS: Compression products should not be worn and are contraindicated if you have any of the following conditions: Severe arterial insufficiency, cutaneous infections, acute dermatitis, wet dermatosis, uncontrolled congestive heart failure, skin irritations, allergies to dyes.

This is only general information and is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Always consult your physician or other health care provider about all health concerns, conditions, and recommended treatments.

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