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The Top 10 Key Benefits of Compression Gear

There are far more than 10 key benefits of compression gear. In fact, when we sat down to create this article we began with ~20 key points.

Eventually we narrowed it down to what we believe are the top 10 most important health benefits of compression gear.

Here are 10 ways compression gear can benefit the average athlete or weekend warrior.

1. Reduce or completely eliminate DOMS

DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise (1).

If you’ve taken a long time off from working out and then gotten back into a routine you know the feeling of being completely immobilized by soreness. DOMS is thought to be caused by eccentric exercise. When you workout micro tears (microtrauma) damage the muscle fibers (1).

During the recovery process, your body begins to fix and heal these damages, which in turn strengthens your muscles. During this time you will feel soreness and pain in the muscles which are undergoing this process.

Compression garments also help reduce muscle vibration during activity which helps to reduce the potential for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (1).

This would explain why many runners feel they recover better after using compression garments (particularly calf sleeves) when training and racing. Increased blood flow from compression can also help improve waste by product clearance and improve post exercise recovery.

According a study, published in the the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2).

“ Compression garments have been shown to help athletes during the active recovery process. Research shows that following a high intensity treadmill workout, compression garments helped to decrease the heart rate and lactic acid buildup in athletes. “

How compression gear can help:

Compression garments have been shown in lab tests to decrease the amount of lactic acid buildup in the muscles. Reduced lactic acid buildup results in less soreness & muscle inflammation!


2. Increasing workout intensity

Back in 2003, as Paula Radcliffe broke the tape at the London Marathon to set a new world record, her distinctive compression socks were a rarity in the field. Fast forward 15 years and compression gear from calf sleeves, long sleeve tops, shirts, and arm guards can be seen everywhere; from olympic athletes to the everyday gym enthusiast (3).

Paula was clearly ahead of her time when she donned her compression socks. But what was the reasoning behind them?

Simple. Clear performance benefits. For numerous years compression gear has been used to improve blood flow in the healthcare industry. It can help to manage conditions such as deep vein thrombosis. If you watch clearly you’ll see Paula’s socks resemble DVT socks rather than modern day compression wear (3).

As fitness technology has improved, today’s compression garments focus on graduated compression which helps to increase blood flow and prevent blood pooling.

Quick Fitness Tech Tips:

There are two main types of compression used in apparel.

Compartmental compression – tighter in particular areas and usually tailored for specific sports.

Graduated compression – tighter in the extremities and used to help increase blood flow back to the core during workouts.

How compression gear can help:

Compression gear, such as long sleeve tops, shirts, tights, and sleeves all increase the amount of blood flow which will keep your muscles warmer, improve the removal of waste buildup, and make you feel tighter and more secure.

3. Wick Sweat Away From The Body

If you’ve ever been in a classroom during summertime you understand how well the average cotton or polyester shirt can absorb sweat. Do you normally wear regular cotton t-shirts when exercising?

Perspiration, or sweat, is our body’s natural by-product of increases in your body temperature, the outside temperature, or your emotional state. Your body will naturally sweat in order to regulate your internal body temperature.

The average shirt is not equipped to deal with the intensity of a 45min – 1hr workout. This is due to the fact that, as you sweat your average t-shirt will absorb this moisture. On one hand, this will cool down your muscles leaving you open to tears and injuries. On the other hand the increased weight of your shirt will of course, weigh you down.

The most common type of compression fabric is Spandex. Spandex has a lot of unique properties, which make it well suited to certain applications, such as sports apparel. As we covered above, compression materials can be used to increase blood flow and circulation to your muscles, as well as help you recover faster after workouts (4).

The reason why spandex is used primarily to do this, is because Spandex is able to expand up to 600% and spring back, without losing any of its material integrity (4)!

Modern fabrics used by major compression brands will help to wick away moisture and reduce the buildup of heat that occurs during exercise.

How does this work? Compression garments are created to draw sweat upwards, into, and out of the material, before quickly evaporating, as opposed to being soaked up like a sponge. This means that your clothing remains light and dry, allowing you to get more from your workout.

If you have sensitive skin, compression gear can improve your overall comfort during a workout while reducing the chance of swelling or blisters

How compression gear can help:

Compression materials like spandex are created to wick sweat away from the body keeping you dry and helping to regulate body temperature. The wicking of sweat from the body keeps you comfortable and reducing the chance of swelling or blisters.

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4. Keep the muscles warm and prevent muscle strain

Ever hear the saying “warm muscles are strong muscles”. No? Good because we just made that up.

Don’t let that detract from the fact that warm muscles are actually stronger and more resistant to strain than cool muscles. This is the reason why it is encouraged for you to warm up before beginning strenuous exercise.

Your muscles are able to stretch further and be taxed at a greater level when your body’s overall temperature has increased. This is due to the increased blood flow through the muscles which carries necessary nutrients and oxygen (7).

This allows the muscles to grow in size and strength.

The problem with exercising in traditional cotton T-shirts or shorts is that if your body does not maintain consistent stress levels your overall temperature will begin to decrease back to its baseline.

Compression gear works to combat this problem by locking against skin and preventing the loss of this much needed heat.

According to Healthline (7)

“ Acute muscle strains are also more common in cold weather. This is because muscles are stiffer in lower temperatures. It’s important to take extra time to warm up in these conditions to prevent strains. “

How compression gear can help:

Compression garments are specifically designed to hug the body in a comfortable way. The compression materials then function to hold in heat and keep the body’s temperature elevated. This allows your muscles to function at their optimal temperatures.

5. Improving the oxygen flow

You have probably seen people at the gym or running around the streets that have those compression sleeves, shirts, or tights on. You have also probably wondered to yourself what those could possibly do.

To fully understand the benefits of compression shirts, sleeves, and other gear, it is important to have a working knowledge of how blood flows throughout the body. To start, the heart pumps oxygen rich blood to our extremities through a network of veins and capillaries (9).

The cells in our body use this oxygen to perform necessary tasks such as cellular respiration. In short, the waste products of the cells are then carried back through the veins and capillaries back into the heart. When the blood reaches the heart, it is oxygenated ( with help from the lungs ) and the process repeats itself (9).

Our muscles require the flow of oxygenated blood in order to operate at optimal performance. The more oxygen our muscle cells have, the better they will function.

For example, a well-trained endurance athlete has a resting heart rate of 40 bpm. Miguel Indurain, a five-time Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medalist in 1996, recorded a resting heart rate of 28 bpm.

In the mountain stages of the Tour de France, Indurain could take his pulse rate up to 190 beats per minute and drop it back to 60 on the descent within half a minute!

Recent studies show that modern compression gear causes the walls of the arteries to dilate, this in turn increases the blood flow. And we know that with increased blood flow, there is increased oxygen flow to the cells (5).

The walls of the veins will also constrict under compression, this in turn increases the velocity of blood flow through them. The increased velocity of blood flow through the veins means that deoxygenated blood will arrive back to the heart faster, increasing your body’s ability to perform strenuous activity!

How compression gear can help:

Compression gear enables the body’s natural processes of moving nutrient rich, oxygenated blood, to perform better and for longer durations. With this increased performance the average athlete is able to get more out of each movement, rep, and workout.

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6. Helps with weight loss

Have you ever been inside of a wrestling room in High School or College after the athletes have finished working out? Well if you have then you know the room feels hotter than a sauna!

The reason for this is because the intense heat of the room, combined with their strenuous workout routine delivers a knockout punch guaranteed to shed weight.

But why does this work? For that we’ll need to understand a bit about our BMR (10).

Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR for short, is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain life (10). So, if you enjoy maintaining your life, eat enough calories to do that!

No, that’s not the point of this section of the article. Most people believe that their hardcore gym routine is what leads to the burning of the most calories in the day. It actually does not come close.

Instead our BMR is responsible for 60 – 70% of the calories expended, through activities such as the beating of the heart, respiration, and body temperature maintenance (10).

What we learned above is that compression gear can help the body to raise and maintain a slightly higher internal temperature.

As the body works to increase your overall temperature, maintain that temperature, and eventually cool your body back to its baseline you burn a bunch of calories.

Just think, for every 0.5 degree celsius increase in internal body temperature, the BMR increases approximately 7%!

How compression gear can help:

By helping you to increase and maintain a heightened internal body temperature most compression gear will jump-start your BMR allowing you to burn those extra calories without having to put in the extra work.

7. Reduced muscle recovery times

Cmon! One more set of 40! Wipe that confused look off your face, we’re talking about burn sets here.

The point of a burn set is to push as much oxygen rich blood and nutrients into the muscles as possible. Burn sets are generally what lead to a “muscle pump”, or the noticeable size difference in your muscles after a particularly strenuous workout.

Burn sets are great for causing those micro tears and microtrauma to the muscles which allows them to grow as we rest.

Compression wear has been found to be highly beneficial in reducing rates of DOMS (1). This is due to the fact that compression gear positively promotes the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients through the body.

Just as a burn set, key to the growth of your muscles helps push blood through the muscles, so does compression wear.

The nutrients and oxygen that are passed into and through the muscles help these muscles to repair themselves faster (8)!

According to a study by Duffield R. and M. Portis, cricket players wearing compression garments showed fewer blood markers of muscle damage and reported less soreness during the 24-hour post-workout period (2).

How compression gear can help:

By assisting the body with the movement of oxygen-rich blood, and essential nutrients your body is able to heal and grow faster.

8. Stabilize joints to prevent injury

Of all of the wonderful benefits compression wear offers, this is by far our favorite. Compression gear offers you tons of support during exercise. While loose-fitting clothing may be comfortable as you loaf of the couch, it is far from ideal during exercise.

The problem with loose or ill-fitting clothing during exercise is that it does not provide the proper amount of support for the muscles and joints. This opens up your body to preventable, exercise related tears and injuries.

You will notice immediately, compression wear, whether in the form of shorts, pants, t-shirts, tank tops, socks, and sleeves provide maximum levels of support.

Compression material is engineered to hug the body in a comfortable way, allowing for increased natural movement. Most importantly compression wear is used to stabilize your joints and decrease muscle vibration.

Just as workout/weight belts are used to stabilize the back during heavy lifts, compression gear provides its own level of muscle and joint stabilization.

How compression gear can help:

Allowing for increased mobility, while holding the compressed muscles and joints together will lead to safer and more explosive workouts. You can reduce your risk of exercise related injury through the use of specific compression gear.

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9. It can improve skin health and clarity

It’s hardly news that a proper exercise regimen is great for your heart, lungs, and mental health. But did you know that it is also important for maintaining healthy skin (5)?

“We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant,” says dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, author of Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (6).

And what have we learned about compression gear today? That’s right, it is spectacular at improving and promoting healthy circulation in the body!

If you have dermatological conditions such as acne, rosacea, or psoriasis, you may need to take special care to keep your skin protected while exercising.

With its specially formulated ability to wick sweat from the body and to keep you dry compression gear is perfect for those prone to breakouts (5).

Compression gear works to create a better “funnel” of your body’s blood to the extremities. This in turn allows the essential nutrients pumped from the heart to be carried where it is needed most (5).

How compression gear can help:

Not only will compression gear increase your mind-body connection as you exercise, its benefits to healthy circulation can help improve your skin health and clarity!

10. It will make you look good

Made By Compression gear is designed with you in mind. We love to workout and so we know how important it is to look good while you do it.

When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good you’re able to exercise more intensely and break new personal records.

With the ability of spandex to give your body a more firm and toned look, compression gear will show off your body in the most flattering light.

If the great health benefits provided by compression gear weren’t enough, adding a style factor to the mix as well should be enough to push anyone over the edge.

How compression gear can help:

Made By Compression compression wear is designed specifically to improve the body’s circulation and style you in cutting edge muscle technology!

The bottom Line

If you’re looking to take your workouts to the next lext, chances are that you’ve looked into purchasing compression wear.

Compression clothing has become incredibly popular in a wide range of athletic and sporting disciplines.

You may not realize it, but by doing something as seemingly simple as changing your athletic attire as you work out, you will be providing yourself with a number of advantages as you exercise.

One thing we’d like to point out is that compression gear does not function as a magic pill. It will not turn you an olympian or professional athlete overnight.

It is a relatively inexpensive way to give yourself a slight edge when it comes to plyometric, strength training and high intensity workouts.