Runners are always looking for ways to get that extra mile in, that extra speed, or a better lap time and get creative in order to do so. So what is compression clothing? Compression clothing or accessories whether it be for exercising or healing is usually composed of 80% nylon and 20% spandex. Studies have found that consistent pressure applied by their products improves the flow of oxygenated blood by up to 40% which is fantastic for brain function. Compression gear speeds up healing times, allows for a consistent body temperature, supports muscles, and helps to wick sweat.
Compression Arm Sleeves/Tops
Compression gear has also been popular for its appearance. Many people want to show off the physique that they worked hard for, and no one can blame them also, many brands have produced compression gear with various designs, patterns, colors, etc. It’s a market that is correspondent with “athleisure” but still holds its own specific niche. So let’s get down to some different types of compression gear and why it can benefit runners during and after their workouts.
Compression arm sleeves or tops offer increased blood circulation. Increased blood circulation in the area will help to prevent injury and can actually support an arm that has been injured previously. They help to speed up the recovery process of sore or over-trained muscles in the area. Compression arm sleeves/tops maintain temperatures so that you are at one consistent temperature. When you’re on a run on a hot day, the arm sleeve/top allows for sweat to cool your body down and for your skin to breathe, and on a cold day, they maintain the body’s internal temperature. A warm consistent temperature keeps muscles stretched and ready for more exertion. Aside from internal protection, they act as a protective layer over the skin. They can prevent scrapes, scratches, dust, sunlight, etc.
Compression bottoms essentially do the same things as compression tops, though both areas of the body do different things and have different muscles. As you run, your legs are constantly moving and working out every muscle it has, and just like compression tops, they reduce muscle soreness and add support to the area.
Women wear leggings all the time, and men usually wear compression sleeves on the calves or thighs, which is still beneficial but others get creative and wear shorts over their compression pants to make them feel better which is understandable, so it’s up to you how you want to wear it, at the end of the day it only helps you. Compression bottoms also help with increased jumping ability, as your muscles are supported, you will find it easier to get your feet off the ground because that extra support gives you a little boost. Compression bottoms just like tops protect you from natural elements and sometimes have an option of having integrated cup pockets for groin protection which are essential for baseball or football players.
Compression socks are one of the most common types of compression gear, as they are commonly used for post-surgery recovery and combat swelling and aching on the feet which are the platforms that support your body weight. These socks are commonly found at pharmacies, and drug stores alike. The feeling of having on compression socks should equate to the feeling of applying pressure onto a sore muscle. It should not be too tight for it will restrict blood flow and carry out less oxygen throughout your body. Compression is measured by “mmHg” (millimeters of mercury). Athletic compression socks should be between 15-20 mmHg, which is optimal for individuals who have slight swelling in the legs, whereas medical grade compression is at 20-40 mmHg recommended for those with severe swelling or who are recovering from surgery.
Although running in itself is a fantastic exercise, especially if done routinely but strength training is also recommended as it can prevent any future injuries and boost performance. Strength training trains your muscles to be bigger and stronger, which in turn will improve your speed and endurance. There are many out there on the best strength exercises for runners, but only you know you better than anyone else so find one, experiment with it, and see if that’s the one for you, if not get that gear back on and try again until you find one that is perfect for you.