Are Compression Suits Worth It?

Recently, okay, so not really recently, i had a go at the 2XU 12km run. 2XU (pronounced as “TWO-TIMES-YOU” according to my partner who has extensive research on the brand name :P) is well known for their compression gear. Be it the top, singlet, tights, half-tights, calf sleeves etc… they are the leading and most well-known brand of compression gear around town.
Anyways, for people like me who aren’t very much into the other portion or performance enhancement aspects of a run/race – like whether should i wear singlet or a dri-fit tee or should i just run with a normal tee, often back then, it got me wondering “WHY ARE MOST PEOPLE WEARING THOSE “COMPRESSION SUIT”? Okay, so it does look kinda cool on some people but seriously, are compression suits HYPE or do they really produce results for people wearing them?
I did some research and found out about the HIs and LOWs of wearing these suits. The Facts and Figures on these “super suits” as you might wanna call it. And i hope that this post will serve you well as it has served me. This is because sports, health and fitness doesnt have a “I KNOW IT ALL” stage. When it comes to fitness, im always a student learning new things and understandings new concepts which can be applied in my day-to-day fitness activities. Be it training runs, races, gym workouts, eating right and etc.
First up – the main important question that people would wanna ask about compression suits – Are Compression Suits Worth It?

According to studies, compression clothing offers real benefits, like improving muscle recovery after workouts or helping you to run faster. Still, it pays to suit up only where you’ll need it – for example, wearing a compression top won’t benefit your running as much as compression pants.

Here’s when to wear compression clothing and the benefits it gives:

Prevent Soreness
Athletes who did sprints and plyometrics in a lower body compression garment reported 43 per cent less soreness after 24 hours than their unrestricted counterparts did.

Save Your Muscles
Athletes who wore a full body compression suit for 24 hours after high-intensity exercise had up to 20 per cent lower levels of muscle damage.

Run Faster
Runners who wore knee high compression stockings ran as much as 6.1 per cent faster on a treadmill than those who wore regular running socks.

Gain Accuracy
The elasticity of a long sleeved compression top gives you more control as you extend your arms. This may help in your throwing.

Conserve Energy

Athletes in compression pants covered up to 34 per cent more distance at faster speeds in circuit training. The pants help conserve energy.

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Now behind the “hoo-hah” of compression tights other than its promise to lower down lactic acid buildup, recovery purposes, preventing abrasion and those points above, many might still feel that its just another hype and trend thingy. Well, below the article below will help you understand the advantages and the disadvantages of the compression tights/suits/”cape” ala superman. 😛

ADVANTAGES:

Lactic acid buildup is only present during Anaerobic Energy system which only kicks start after 10 seconds and can only last for up to 3 minutes. Under aerobic conditions, the muscles can store and burn this at a faster rate than it is produced.  Here is the breakdown of what happen during this energy system:

(It might be confusing, so just to simply for “pyruvate” will go 2 ways to mitochondria which is the powerhouse of the muscle and during the process they will produce lactate) So by wearing compression tights it will actually help you to reduce this lactate buildup.

For recovery purposes, compression tights will really help based on a study by Decathlon Test and Research Centre in France that compression tights “could be useful to oxygenate fatigued muscles after exercise”. By having more oxygen in fatigue muscles it will bring about lesser damaged to the muscles after a hard workout. By wearing compression tights it will also prevent abrasion as abrasion comes in when the clothing rubs along the skin which produces friction thus causing abrasion to happen.

DISADVANTAGES:

Now for the disadvantages, since most of compression garments aim to reduce lactic acid not all people will benefit from them. In a study by Massey University “There were no differences in oxygen uptake, heart rate or blood concentration”. This study was among well trained runners, so what is the explanation of this:

As for well trained runners, during their training they have certain training like lactate threshold. By doing lactate threshold training can improve 65%-80% of our VO2 Max. It’s estimated that elite endurance athletes’ threshold is closer to 80-90% of their VO2 Max.  Remember what we talked about in the earlier part, as intensity of exercise increases more lactic acid is being build up.

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Personally, i have worn the Nike Combat Pro top and the 2XU’s Calf Sleeves. Hmmm… my verdict? Its still too early to say cause i havent really tested them as much. Although wearing the Nike Combat Pro top at first kinda compresses (duhh??) my bod and i had to breathe a little harder. IS this normal?

The 2XU calf sleeves on the other hand gives me a firm and warm feeling at my calves area and as i ran 12KM with it. Performance wise, i really could NOT tell if i had improved tremendously with these fancy gear. Till further tests/runs, then will i know the true benefits of them all. 🙂

(Men’s Health: http://www.menshealth.com.sg/mh-runners/are-compression-suits-worth-it)

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