JULY 26, 2023
Why Compression Helps Athletes
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts today look to natural and healthy products to help them get an edge—whether to best opponents or achieve a personal record time. Finding the right clothing has long been part of the equation. Many athletes are turning to compression clothing for a natural boost.
Does Compression Really Boost Performance?
Compression therapy has been around for a long time. Ancient physicians used a rudimentary form of wrapping bandages around legs to treat injuries. The use of modern compression garments arose during the first part of the 20th century. At that time, and still, compression garments were worn to boost circulation and to treat vein conditions, such as varicose veins and edema.
Compression helps to treat these conditions because the pressure it exerts encourages blood to flow from the legs back to the heart. In the pursuit of becoming better, stronger, and faster in athletic performance, athletes have recognized how increased blood flow can enhance performance and have tried wearing compression socks.
Although there has yet to be a scientific study that has proven the connection between increased blood flow and athletic performance, many swear by the results that they experience when wearing compression socks.
Why Compression Helps Athletes
Athletes that use compression to enhance their performance are able to push further and faster in their workouts due to the increase in oxygen to their muscles. Gradient compression is greatest at the ankle and decreases as it ascends closer to the knee. This decreasing pressure prevents blood from pooling in the legs forcing it back to the heart to be reoxygenated.
Many athletes also experience swelling in their lower legs due to a build-up of fluids in the legs after overexertion or minimal tearing damage to the muscle fibers. Increased oxygen to the muscles acts as an anti-inflammatory and boosts wound healing. Faster healing and recovery allows athletes to return faster and stronger.
In addition, wearing compression socks can help prevent injury. The snug support of compression socks helps to improve balance, reduce vibration and stress to the muscles, and prevent soft tissue damage.
Difference Between Gradient and Uniform Compression
The most biggest difference between gradient and uniform compression is also the most obvious. Gradient compression exerts the most pressure at the ankle and decreases further up the garment. Uniform compression provides the same amount of pressure throughout the entire garment.
Uniform compression, like gradient compression, provides added support that can help with balance and stress to the muscles. Where it differs is that gradient compression works to counteract the force of gravity on the body, preventing blood from pooling in the lowest parts of the legs and forcing blood to flow back to the heart. Without the differing levels of compression in the uniform garment, there is nothing to encourage increased blood flow. Obviously, blood will continue to flow normally, but the wearer won’t experience the extra boost that one wearing gradient compression would.