9 Compression Benefits for Athletes
Utilize compression wear to elevate your training and performance.
Compression wear has been a popular choice among athletes for many years now. And as the popularity of these garments has spread, their quality and variety have improved from the earlier days, as well.
Utilizing compression wear in competition is the overwhelming choice of professional athletes in nearly every sport. For this reason alone it is worth a look if you too are an active person and enjoy physical activity of any kind.
For starters, you may be wondering what exactly do we mean by compression wear and what makes it unique? Compression wear generally consists of blends of stretchy materials that conform to and produce pressure on your body.
Some of the common materials used in compression blends are polyester, nylon, spandex, Lycra, and elastane. These fabrics are typically soft in feel and excel at wicking moisture away from the body, while also producing the signature elasticity of compression wear.
Athletes of all stripes can benefit from the support and performance-enhancing benefits that compression garments and accessories have to offer. Here, we’ll take a look at eight of the most important benefits your compression wear can provide.
Aids in Strain Prevention
To get started, we’ll look at an important compression wear benefit that helps to keep athletes in the game: strain prevention. Compression wear has been shown to lower the risk of strain during activity when utilized correctly by athletes.
Not only does it help prevent strain, but if you’re an athlete recovering from strain, compression wear can assist in helping your body recover, as well. With this in mind, if you’re an athlete prone to a specific type of injury, or you’re recovering from such an injury, utilizing compression wear can be a great tool for you.
Reduces Perceived Exertion
One of the ways that compression wear benefits your athletic performance is by reducing your perceived exertion. Perceived Exertion is how hard it feels like your body is working during physical activity. It includes a number of physical sensations, such as heart rate, breathing rate, sweating, and muscle fatigue.
So, whether competing or training, an athlete would benefit from a lower perceived exertion rate, as it would make the activity feel less exhaustive and help maintain the athlete’s stamina for longer. When an athlete is able to push harder and last longer, you can see an overall improvement in performance.
Improves Muscle Oxygenation
Whenever you’re moving, exercising, training, competing, or whatever it may be, the muscles in your body start working harder and demand an increase in oxygen. This balance between oxygen delivery and oxygen consumption by our muscles is known as muscle oxygen saturation.
Compression wear can actually assist your body in this process, as it is designed to increase the levels of oxygen your muscles receive through improved blood flow. Improved muscle oxygenation can help athletes perform at a higher level. There is also the added benefit that better muscle oxygenation can lead to faster muscle recovery.
Offers More Comfort
It can’t go overlooked that one of the main reasons why compression wear has become so popular is that it’s the most comfortable option for when you’re active. Athletes simply feel better moving and competing in compression wear than they did in any fabrics that were available prior.
This comfort comes in many forms. For starters, the compressive nature of the fabric results in less rubbing and friction against the body and therefore means less chafing. This tight fit also allows the garment to stay in place, so you wont be constantly adjusting while your active.
Also, the typical compression material blend of nylon and lycra (or spandex) has a very soft and smooth feel to it. Not only is this ideal for competition but for extended wear, as well. This is one of the main reasons why the activewear/athleisure trend has taken off in such a big way.
Additionally, the fabric is designed to wick sweat away from your body and dries much faster than cotton and other materials, so there’s no trudging along in sweat-soaked garments. Not only do you feel better in dry gear but your limbs will enjoy a better range motion too.
Provides More Support
Another benefit is derived right from the signifier in its name. Thanks to the compression applied to your body by compression wear, you’ll notice a greater stability and support to the areas where it’s applied or worn. This compressive pressure will better compact your muscles and offer you better control and strength.
This support is also a critical component for male athletes when groin support is needed during physical activity. Additionally, there are compression shorts and tights designed to hold a protective cup in place should your sport call for it, such as baseball, football, and more. Compression shorts are a great way to keep your cup in place, or offer strength and support to other body parts, without sacrificing comfort.
Reduces Muscle Fatigue
Another important benefit of compression wear is that it helps to reduce muscle fatigue. When muscle fatigue is reduced, athletes can keep performing longer and at higher levels. This reduction in fatigue is achieved when compression increases the blood flow in your veins.
As you’re moving and exerting energy, your muscles need oxygen. If they don’t get enough of it, that’s when lactic acid begins building up and you feel a burning sensation in your muscles. There are different ways of reducing lactic acid but in the midst of activity what your body needs is to improve oxygen delivery to your muscles.
Due to gravity, your blood has a tendency to gather in your lower extremities. However, the pressure that compression wear places on those lower extremities can improve the blood flow of deoxygenated blood back towards your heart, and thus improves your overall oxygenation as a result.
Improves Muscle Recovery
Not only does compression wear help athletes during activity, but many notice benefits in the days following that activity, as well. No person that is active escapes the inevitable pain of muscle soreness. However, by wearing compression gear during your activity, you can reduce the severity of that muscle soreness and enjoy a quicker recovery time.
Compression wear has been linked to improving muscle recovery after exercise. This was shown to be especially helpful for athletes that engaged in intense exercise with pronounced eccentric aspects.
For this reason, compression wear has become popular in impact training, such as CrossFit, as well as in the weightlifting community, as it has been shown to reduce the inflammation and swelling associated with lifting.
Similarly, it is also popular among long-distance runners for reducing the muscle vibration that occurs when your foot strikes the pavement by applying stabilizing pressure. This has been shown to reduce muscle fatigue during activity while also reducing delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS, which occurs 24 to 72 hours after the activity.
Increases Athletic Performance
It’s no coincidence that compression wear is the first thing athletes all over the globe put on when getting ready to train or compete. It’s not just for the sleek appearance. There are a number of ways compression wear can increase your athletic performance.
For one thing, compression wear can improve proprioception, which is your body’s ability to sense its own position and provide precise and fluid movement. Of course, these are essential abilities and skills for athletes to have. When compression is applied to a part of your body, more information is sent to your brain, allowing for more refined and precise movements.
Additionally, compression wear can truly improve all areas of performance from start to finish. During the warm up to your activity, compression increases your blood flow to warm you up faster. When your activity begins, compression helps control your movement and improve your endurance. Afterwards, compression wear helps to rid your body of waste products quicker by increasing your blood flow.
Maintains Body Temperature
Thanks to its breathable fabric and sweat-wicking capability, utilizing compression gear during activity is a great way to maintain body temperature and keep from overheating. Wicking moisture away from your skin helps to keep your body cool, dry, and comfortable as you compete.
It should also be noted that in colder weather, wicking sweat away from your body helps you maintain a comfortable warmth. For athletes that are performing in cold weather, overheating remains a significant factor.
Fabrics and materials that keep you warm but lack breathability create a shell that blocks in all of the heat your body emits. Even in frigid temperatures you can overheat in no time at all. Compression fabric provides a great combination of breathability and warmth that won’t bog you down.
Should Athletes Invest in Compression Gear?
As we’ve covered throughout, there are numerous benefits to athletes utilizing compression wear in activity and competition. From the more scientific benefits like improved muscle oxygenation and perceived exertion to the simple and straightforward benefits of better comfort and support, compression wear has proven itself irreplaceable in the athletic world.
All of the benefits laid out here work in concert to keep athletes focused and in the game, while also elevating performance and bringing out your absolute best. Whether this is warming up before an activity, giving your all during competition, or recovering after a workout, compression wear can give you a boost.
Additionally, these benefits extend to athletes of all levels, beginners and professionals alike, and to activities of all kinds, as well. So, whatever your sport, competition, or activity may be and whichever level you’re at, you will undoubtedly benefit from giving compression wear a try.