Does Compression Wear Help with Recovery?
Learn what the research says, as well as best practices for compression-aimed recovery.
Nowadays, nearly every time you spot an active person, you likely see them wearing a compression garment or utilizing compression in some form or another. For professional and non-professional athletes alike, compression gear has become a staple for both workouts and competition.
But what about when the game is done? Or once you’ve eked out that last rep? Is there any use for compression after your activity?
There is, in fact. Wearing compression gear post-activity can actually be quite helpful for athletes. More and more research on the effects of compression continues to support the notion that compression not only helps to reduce muscle soreness but can also speed up muscle recovery.
We’ll go over those recovery effects here and introduce you to some of the science and research that backs up the claims. Additionally, we’ll cover why it’s so important for athletes to devote proper attention to the recovery process.
Discover our Top 3 Go-To Picks for Muscle Recovery.
What Is It About Compression That Helps Recovery?
So, how exactly does this work? What is it about compression wear that helps speed up the muscle recovery process?
For starters, that snug fit that you feel from your compression garment is serving a purpose. Blood flow to your muscles is increased wherever the garment is worn or applied.
It might seem contradictory at first, that blood flow and recovery is improved through constriction. However, when we’re active and working our muscles hard, our bodies generate lactate, which is used to generate energy. Not all ends up used, though, and this excess lactate collects and causes that familiar swelling, soreness, and pain.
When muscles are constricted by compression, however, its graduated design prevents lactic acid from building by pushing depleted blood back toward your heart at a quicker rate. When the fluid buildup is reduced, your swelling and soreness decreases.
Additionally, not to be overlooked are the more traditional ways that compression wear can aid recovery, as well. For example, thanks to the smooth and snug fit of compression, along with its sweat-wicking capability, compression wear can reduce chaffing, blistering, and friction-caused injury that can result in discomfort and in some cases take you out of action.
It’s important to note, however, that compression gear alone wont be your saving grace from muscle soreness and pain. Think of it instead as another tool in your toolbox for boosting recovery. For a look at the complete recovery toolbox, check out our Top 3 Go-To Tools for Recovery.
Does Science Back Compression’s Affect on Recovery?
So, does compression wear actually impact athlete recovery? Or is it just a sales technique from activewear brands causing a placebo effect?
Turns out there’s quite a bit of science backing up those compression garments. Not only can you feel it slightly in its snug fit and likely notice an improvement while you play, there have also been numerous studies conducted to measure compression’s actual effect on your muscles.
Of those studies, we’ve chosen a few to highlight here to paint a picture of the impact compression can have.
1. Effects of Compression Tights on Recovery Parameters after Exercise Induced Muscle Damage
This study concluded that wearing compression tights will lead to faster recovery for athletes, especially after intense and eccentric exercise.
2. Bringing light into the dark: effects of compression clothing on performance and recovery
The results from this study suggest that athletes wear compression to assist in performance and recovery. In particular, positive effects were noticed in reducing muscle swelling and perceived pain.
3. Compression garment promotes muscular strength recovery after resistance exercise
This study found that wearing compression gear after exercise helped to facilitate your body’s recovery for muscular strength.
Bottom line here is: listen to the science. Next time you’re gearing up before your workout, definitely opt for some compression wear over the older loose-fitting gym gear. And remember that compression wear keeps working for you even once your work out is done.
Compression Wear Recovery Benefits
When you’re active (lifting weights, running distances, and more) your muscles break down in various ways: micro-tears, depleted energy stores, and fluid loss. So, once you’ve finished exercising, your muscles need time to repair and strengthen.
While it doesn’t have any of the excitement or thrill of activity, recovery is just as important as any other factor in an athlete’s process. And compression wear can play a big part in that recovery. Here are some of the compression wear recovery benefits you can enjoy:
Perform at Your Best
Build Your Strength
Minimize Risk for Injury
Perform at Your Best
Be ready for your next workout at a quicker and improved rate. When you’re sore after a workout, it’s a good indicator of a quality workout. But muscle soreness can also drag you down and limit your performance the next time around. Utilize compression garments to reduce your turnaround time, so that you’re in peak form for your next workout.
Build Your Strength
In order to build muscle strength and endurance, you need to actually first break down your muscle so that it can build back stronger—a process known as muscle hypertrophy. And in order to keep improving and growing stronger, you need to stick with it. Compression garments can help your muscles rebuild faster by reducing inflammation, so that you’re ready to keep building.
Minimize Risk for Injury
No one likes feeling sore following a workout. It’s uncomfortable, limits your movement, drags your energy down, and can even be a bit painful. But it can also lead to problems much greater than this. When you over-work your muscles without allowing them proper time to recover, you increase your likelihood for muscle strains, sprains, and other injury. Implement compression both during and after your exercise to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time.
Also, don’t forget that in order to truly reap the benefits of compression, your gear needs to be in top form, as well. When compression garments become worn down, they lose elasticity and effectiveness. Learn how to tell the signs you’re in need of replacement: When Should I Replace My Compression Wear?