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Compression Garments are About More Than Workouts

If you’ve gone into a gym or watched a sporting event in the last few years, no doubt you’ve seen plenty of athletes wearing compression garments – the second-skin clothing frequently worn by soccer teams, football players and even weekend marathoners. It turns out there is a purpose behind the popularity of these garments, and it’s all about recovery. From volleyball shorts to running socks, compression is where it’s at. Let’s take a look how compression clothing works.


Compression Garments are About More Than Workouts

Spandex Shorts From Worldwide Sport Supply


Different Types of Compression

It may be difficult to discern when you see athletes wearing compression clothes, but there are panels within the garments that dictate what their effect is supposed to achieve. The different types of compression gear are:

  • Graduated: In this kind of design, clothes are tighter at the extremities to encourage blood flow back to the core.
  • Compartmental: The clothes have compression panels in various places depending on the activity the wearer is doing. For example, runners might want compression in their calves.
  • Overall: Some garments have all-over compression that’s meant to provide consistent pressure to the body.


Benefits of Compression Garments

Tight clothing isn’t about showing off muscles – for the most part. Many manufacturers claim compression helps athletes in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Blood flow: After oxygen-rich blood reaches your muscles during a workout, it has to get back to the heart and lungs quickly if you want to keep training at a high level. Compression can help with that process.
  • Lactic Acid: The culprit when it comes to muscle soreness and cramps, lactic acid can be reduced by wearing these garments.
  • Prevention: Pressure from compression garments supports muscles during a workout, making you less prone to injury and strain. It can also decrease muscle fatigue because blood flow remains at a high level throughout the training session. Joints, too, get the benefit of additional stabilization through compression.


Bonus Considerations

There are a few other attributes of pressure garments that you should consider. These have more to do with comfort than athletic benefits, but they are still important:

  • Heat: The material used in compression apparel, mostly spandex and nylon, is breathable and wicks moisture from the skin, making the clothes surprisingly comfortable even in warm conditions or when you are sweating a lot.
  • SPF: The fabric also supplies protection from the sun, so you can worry less about burning while you are working out outside.
  • Range of options: Compression fabric comes in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to get a full shirt if all you need is elbow support. You can also get sleeves that act as braces of a sort for your joints and legs.


The age of compression apparel is upon us with no signs of slowing down. Indeed, the technology finds its way into new garment options all the time, so it’s an industry that clearly will continue to evolve. Professional athletes and regular workout warriors will likely be wearing compression garments well into the future.


Wife. Mom. Believer. Writer. Advocate.

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Heather Johnson

I have never worn compression garments while exercising. I bet these would have helped me when I did gymnastics as a kid.

Stacey Werner

My husband loves compression shirts. He wears them whenever he works out – whether it is running or kickboxing!

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