Compression Clothing – What is it?
If you’re an observant type – and if we may so, sir/madam, you certainly strike us as one – you’ve probably noticed increasing numbers of runners and cyclists wearing compression clothing – very tight tops and shorts/leggings that lend them a vaguely I-am-from-the-future air.
But why? What are they up to? Unbound spoke to Albert Pulver of compression-gear manufacturers SKINS to get the lowdizzle on the biggest thing to hit fitness since protein shakes.
1. Compression Clothing Does One Very Effective Thing, Very Effectively
“In a nutshell,” says Albert, “compression increases circulation and delivers more oxygen to active muscles – so you can train harder, perform longer and recover faster.”
You can train harder, perform longer and recover faster
If training harder, performing longer and recovering faster are of no interest to you, you may have taken a wrong turn on the internet and wound up on the wrong website.
2. The Science Is Simple And Inarguable
Fssshooo – here comes the science: “The primary benefit of compression is on the body’s circulatory system,” says Albert. “When compression is engineered to apply graduated pressure over specific areas of the body, the natural muscle ‘pump’ mechanism that drives blood flow is boosted. This increases oxygen delivery and speeds the removal of blood lactate from working muscles, and also reduces swelling.”
If you want to pull your labcoat on and delve deep into the science of it, there’s a wealth of compression clothing research here.
Albert says SKINS gear takes the whole concept of compression up a notch. “SKINS have a unique way of wrapping and supporting your key muscle groups to reduce movement and focus direction. The seams on SKINS are strategically placed to act as ‘anchor points’ offering focussed support and stability and a heightened sense of proprioception” – in other words, your brain’s perception of how your limbs are working together (or possibly not working together, if you’re attempting to run off a hangover).
3. Compression Gear May Look Bad-Ass, But It’s Not Just For Pros
“Compression is not just for very serious, pro athletes,” explains Albert. “Compression is for anyone looking to improve their performance and reduce both their risk of injury and their recovery time.”
You wouldn’t describe proper running shoes, or energy gels, or protein shakes as being solely for pros
So, just as you wouldn’t describe, say, proper running shoes, or energy gels, or protein shakes as being solely for pros, you wouldn’t describe compression in those terms either.
That said, of course, many professional bad-asses do use compression. “The Wallabies rugby team and Stoke City FC wear SKINS,” says Albert. “We’ve even spotted Bear Grylls wearing SKINS.”
4. It’s Tight, Yes – But Not Crazily Or Uncomfortably So
“I can take time getting used to compression gear,” Albert admits. “Try some on, wear it for at least 15 minutes, and you should soon feel that it’s tight, but also comfortable. If it feels uncomfortable and restrictive, try the next size up.”
5. You Can Use Compression For Pretty Much Anything
Running and cycling may seem the obvious activities where compression could make a big difference, but try thinking outside of the box, maaaan.
Compression can be used in basketball, football, rugby, skiing, triathlons, tennis, CrossFit…
“Compression can be used in basketball, football, rugby, skiing, triathlons, tennis, CrossFit…” enthuses Albert. “Basically, any sport that requires a high level of activity.”
So snooker, bowls and carp-fishing competitions are probably out. But for anything else, compression’s got your back.