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  • Compression Athlete

How Long Does Compression Wear Last?

Learn the signs that let you know when it’s time for a replacement.

Female athlete wearing compression wear.

So, you’ve just put your compression wear through the ringer once again. It pulled and pressed along with your every muscle movement and wicked away more sweat than you care to imagine.


And as you peeled that practically glued on garment from your body, you began to wonder: How long does compression wear last? And also: When should I be looking to replace or upgrade it?


Whether you’re just curious or you’ve begun to notice that your gear isn’t behaving like it once did, it’s good practice to consider the lifespan of your compression wear. As your compression wear ages and begins to break down, it will start losing its full range of benefits.


Here, we’ll give you a general lifespan for your various compression wear pieces. Additionally, we’ll tell you what signs to look for that signal you’re in need of a replacement.



How Does Compression Wear Break Down?


It can actually be difficult to tell for certain when it’s time to replace your compression wear. This is due to a number of factors. A quality compression garment will supply compressive pressure for many wears, but over time that pressure will diminish as the fabric is stretched out from use.


Because the breakdown process is so gradual you likely won’t even notice it as you wear your various pieces at a common frequency.


Also, because the nature of compression wear differs from your everyday wear, it’s easy to mistake the feel of some compressive pressure with sufficient pressure.


The breakdown process is not unlike a pair of running or cross training shoes. They look and feel amazing out of the box (perhaps even a bit stiff at first) and they work at a high level for a good period.


And as you wear them from day-to-day, you don’t notice their gradual breakdown until one day you catch them at a funny angle and think, “Whoa! I need new shoes.”


It’s often just like this with compression wear, as well. Not until you get that new garment that you realize just how worn down the last garment had become.



How Long Do Compression Shorts Last?


Compression shorts typically last 1 to 2 years. If you’re wearing them on a frequent basis, however, it’s possible that the compression fabric begins to loosen and wear out even sooner.


Several factors can play into the lifespan of your compression shorts, including garment quality and the activity for which you’re wearing them.


Female athlete wearing compression shorts.

What Are the Signs I Should Replace My Compression Shorts?


There are a few characteristics of wear that you’ll want to keep your eye on. One of the most crucial areas of breakdown for compression shorts occurs at the waistband. When you put your compression shorts on and pull the legs up, it’s often the waistband that takes the brunt of the pulling.


If you find that you’re constantly readjusting your waistband or that it doesn’t have the quick and firm return when stretched that it once did, the time has come for a replacement pair.


Additional signs of wear can include rough spots, pills in the fabric, or stretch marks. Also, be mindful of any discomfort or tearing at the seams. All of these are signs that point to a compromised compression garment in need of replacement.



How Long Do Compression Tights Last?


Compression tights and leggings typically last 1 to 2 years. This can vary slightly based on the blend of your compression fabric, the brand (and quality) of your tights, as well as how often you wear them.


If you wear the compression tights constantly, or if they are on the cheaper side in terms of quality, they could begin to lose their compressive qualities around the 6-month mark.


Male athlete wearing compression tights.

What Are the Signs I Should Replace My Compression Tights?


It can be a little difficult to tell with compression tights and leggings, as the garment generally covers the entirety of your legs from ankle to waist.


A little bit of slack or wear in one area might not be very noticeable as the rest of the garment stretches and molds to the contours of your lower body. Regardless, you’ll want to keep a look out for a few key things.


If you notice that you are constantly adjusting your tights or leggings, whether pulling up the waistband or straightening a leg, this is a sign that your tights have stretched out from their original form.


Also, if you feel that the fabric of your compression tights has become rough and itchy, or if you notice pills in the fabric, these are signals that your tights are getting old and losing their overall effectiveness.



How Long Do Compression Shirts Last?


Compression shirts generally last 1 to 2 years. If you’re wearing your compression shirt for a high-contact sport, you might experience a tear or stretch in the fabric long before the compression wears out.


While compression is more durable and protects your skin better than alternative fabrics, it’s not impenetrable. Generally, any tear in a compression garment compromises its overall structure and requires a replacement.


Male athlete wearing compression shirt.

What Are the Signs I Should Replace My Compression Shirt?


With your compression shirt, keep an eye on the area round the neck, which can be susceptible to stretching out. This can result after many put-ons and take-offs of the shirt in which the neckline often takes the brunt of any pulling and tugging.


You may also notice stretching or loosening of compression through the body of the shirt. If you find that your compression shirt is sliding on and off much easier than it once did, or feels looser in your chest and torso when worn, it’s likely time for a replacement.



How Long Do Compression Sleeves Last?


Compression sleeves typically last for 1 year. However, if you are wearing the sleeve every day for extended periods of time, you may need a replacement around the 6-month mark.


Due to the variety of compression sleeves available (and each serving their own purpose), it’s difficult to attach a specific lifespan that fits all. Investing in quality sleeves and maintaining good care practices will extend the life of your compression sleeve no matter the design.


Female athlete wearing compression sleeve.

What Are the Signs I Should Replace My Compression Sleeve?


The number one sign to look for with your compression sleeve is if you are constantly realigning or pulling it up. This is a good indication that the compression has worn down and is no longer providing the necessary support.


Note that some adjustment is normal with a compression sleeve. However, when it requires constant attention and does not stay put and apply pressure to your muscles then it’s in need of replacement.



How Long Do Compression Socks Last?


Compression socks generally last for 6 months. Keep in mind, however, that the lifespan of your compression socks will be impacted by factors like how often you wear them, the level of rigor you’re putting the socks through, and the quality of the fabric used, among others.


Runner wearing compression socks.

What Are the Signs I Should Replace My Compression Socks?


Pay attention to the feel of your compression socks. If you notice that they are sliding on and off easier than before, that’s a good sign that the compression is wearing out.


Additionally, watch out for any holes or worn fibers. Even small tears and thinned areas can lessen the overall compression of your socks and impede their purpose.



Why It’s Important to Update Your Compression Gear


Even with meticulous care, every item of compression wear has a limited lifespan. Many different factors influence how long your compression lasts, of course, but eventually even the best cared for compression gear will lose its signature stretch and effectiveness.


When compression gear breaks down and loses elasticity, many of its benefits are lost, as well. Its signature snug and stretchy fit is what sets compression apart from alternative clothing options.


When the compressive pressure is lessened or lost, the benefits derived from this pressure lose effectiveness. Improved circulation, better muscle recovery, moisture wicking capabilities, and more depend on a tight fit that compresses the applied muscles.


That’s why it’s important to replace and update your pieces when you notice any of the signs that we’ve covered here. Keeping your compression gear fresh and in good condition will allow you to enjoy its full range of benefits.

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