How To Buy Compression Gear

While the sci­ence behind com­pres­sion cloth­ing is com­pli­cat­ed, the con­cepts are sim­ple: When an ath­lete moves, mus­cles con­tract to move bones around joints. Com­pres­sion gear worn over extrem­i­ties has been proven to help with venous blood flow in peo­ple at rest. Doc­tors pre­scribe com­pres­sion socks to peo­ple at-risk for deep vein throm­bo­sis, lym­phede­ma and more. Ath­let­ic com­pres­sion gear claims to help in a sim­i­lar man­ner to aid in per­for­mance, recov­ery and injury prevention.

A sec­ond ben­e­fit of com­pres­sion gear is in mus­cle sta­bi­liza­tion. Mus­cle fibers con­tract in only one direc­tion. The myr­i­ad move­ments of the human body are accom­plished by oppos­ing mus­cles sit­u­at­ed around artic­u­lat­ing joints. How­ev­er, mus­cles also are forced to move out of their plane of con­trac­tion dur­ing ath­let­ic move­ment by shock and vibra­tion. Com­pres­sion gear lessens the effect of vibra­tions and shocks upon the mus­cles by sta­bi­liz­ing them so they can do what they do best – con­tract – unen­cum­bered by exter­nal forces.

This guide will help you choose the best com­pres­sion socks for your next run. Let’s get started.

Mate­ri­als: Com­pres­sion gear is usu­al­ly made from sim­i­lar fab­rics as tra­di­tion­al ath­let­ic cloth­ing. For exam­ple, com­pres­sion shirts are often made using a blend of poly­ester and anoth­er elas­tic mate­r­i­al like span­dex to pro­vide a stretchy, tight fit.

Com­pres­sion shorts also use poly­ester in many designs.

Com­pres­sion socks and sleeves, which are very pop­u­lar among dis­tance run­ners, are often mod­eled after oth­er pop­u­lar run­ning socks. Meri­no wool is a pop­u­lar mate­r­i­al for high-end com­pres­sion socks. This soft, durable and quick-dry­ing wool is blend­ed with a small amount of elas­tic syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als to pro­vide com­pres­sion to the calf muscles.

Socks in par­tic­u­lar must also func­tion per­fect­ly in the role of reduc­ing fric­tion in the foot and must sit smooth­ly between the foot and shoe.

Com­pres­sion socks and sleeves also work to help blood and lymph move back through the cir­cu­la­to­ry sys­tem from the extrem­i­ties. Out­side of ath­let­ics, com­pres­sion stock­ings and sleeves are also used to treat med­ical con­di­tions such as vari­cose veins and lymphedema.

Use: Some com­pres­sion gear is designed with a spe­cif­ic sport in mind. Com­pres­sion socks are often tar­get­ed toward dis­tance run­ners and some­times cyclists. Com­pres­sion shirts may focus on mul­ti-sport ath­letes, weight lifters, and even runners.

Fit: Choos­ing a piece of com­pres­sion gear can be tricky. It’s best to begin with siz­ing charts from indi­vid­ual ven­dors. Often, com­pres­sion gear should be sized the same as non-com­pres­sion gar­ments of the same style.

Amount of Com­pres­sion: Med­ical com­pres­sion cloth­ing is rat­ed by the amount of grad­u­at­ed com­pres­sion it exerts on the body as mmHg (which means mil­lime­ters of mer­cury). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, ath­let­ic com­pa­nies do not reg­u­lar­ly list any quan­ti­ta­tive mea­sure of com­pres­sion for their products.

Once again, it is best to defer to the prod­uct descrip­tion, where siz­ing charts are usu­al­ly available.