Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Truth About Compression Socks

Lately, there has been a lot of hype in the athletic community about compression gear, such as socks. But, there has also been a lot of confusion. What everyone wants to know is simply, “do compression socks really work?” The answer - Yes.

While studies thus far have offered many contradictions as to the details surrounding the benefits, by and large what has become clear is that athletes feel a difference when they use compression apparel. Many have cited advantages such as speedy post-workout recoveries and maximized performance thanks to compression socks. Bonus, they look really professional.

This might be enough to convince you, but for the skeptics - let’s have a look at the facts.

Compression Socks in Action

Rather than relying on the perplexing and scarce information available, Elmarie Terblanche, a professor of Sports and Physiology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, recently decided to go forth with her own first-hand research. What she found was enough to convince her.

Terblanche studied athletes running in South Africa’s Two Oceans ultra-race. Some of the runners wore regular knee-high socks, others wore nothing, and some wore their trusty compression socks. What she observed was a significant difference in performance between those wearing the gear, and those who were not. The participants  wearing compression socks outran their competitors, averaging at 12 minutes faster!

Moreover, they reported much less muscle damage and saw quicker recoveries.

The Science is There

That compression socks can enhance your athletic performance is far from delusion. Despite the fact that the research can often seem unreliable, the science is indisputable. 

Here are some straight-forward facts to consider.

1. That compression increases blood-flow is a validated medical theory that has been in practice for decades. In this time, doctors have been using graduated compression socks to combat deep vein thrombosis, and the formation of blood clots. The gear has been proven highly-effective with immobile patients, especially. By the same token, using compression gear post-exercise can accelerate the removal of metabolic waste while replenishing substances required to rebuild the muscle.

2. By optimizing blood-flow and oxygen intake, as compression gear does, symptoms of fatigue can have a slower onset. This means an athlete should be able to go harder, for longer, without becoming sluggish. This hypothesis has been supported by some studies.

Pro-Athletes Are All In

Compression gear is the best kind of trend - it’s practical, and beneficial.

Champion distance-runner Chris Solinksy broke records while wearing compression socks two seasons ago. For him, its all about the post-workout benefits: “I found I was able to come off the workouts much, much quicker.”

Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III has said that he simply “feels faster” in his compression gear.

It all comes down to how compression gear can make an athlete feel.

Ultimately, the allegations that the benefits may not be fully-proven can be largely brushed off by the anecdotal evidence and the supporting science. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What to Know About Compression Shorts

By now it seems everyone is getting increasingly curious about compression gear. Encountering bikers, runners, and other athletes on the street, it’s fair to assume at least one will be sporting a pair of skin tight compression shorts, and there is a reason for that. Actually, there are a few.

Although research has been sparse, and at times inconsistent, many professionals agree that there are indeed a great number of benefits to wearing compression gear. The design is founded on indisputable science. In a nutshell, compression gear works to counteract the vibration of muscles during heavy exercise and keep blood flow at an optimal level. The effects of this, however, have been recorded differently for different athletes - but they are always positive.

The well-regarded theory is that compression gear will speed up post-workout recovery. How? Simple. With less vibration and better blood flow, the risk of swelling and soreness is greatly reduced.

For the quads, glutes, and hips, compression shorts can work wonders by squeezing blood back to the heart, which should slow the symptoms of fatigue. For a competitive athlete, fatigue is the difference between winning, and losing; achieving your goals or not.  Some athletes even believe that compression gear enables better performance. Some studies support this theory, suggesting that by slowing the impending threat of fatigue, one can go harder, faster, for longer. Even Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III agrees that in his compression gear, he “feels faster.”

A recent Australian study showed that male rugby players wearing compression shorts maintained lower heart rates and developed less lactic acid while running on a treadmill. Another suggested that even oxygen consumption was improved in runners wearing compression gear.

Besides all of the athletic benefits compression apparel boasts, there is also the question of comfort to consider. It’s no secret that people perform better when they are comfortable. While they may not look particularly pleasant to squeeze into, the truth is that many athletes find that the compression shorts cause less friction and chafing - an automatic bonus.

Of course, it makes sense that there are many athletes out there who swear by compression gear. The reported benefits of compression shorts include quick recovery due to stabilized muscles, improved cardiovascular efficiency, increased oxygen flow, breathability, and comfort.

If you are looking to improve your athletic performance, especially at the levels of endurance and recovery, compression apparel is highly recommended. Compression shorts can easily be worn under regular shorts, and will help you physically and mentally prepare for the long-haul.