Compression clothing has long been popular amongst runners as it can aid recovery and it is also believed by many that it can aid performance.
Whilst I am far too much of a plodder for it to enhance my performance in any way, I have found my “drawer of bunched up running stuff” starting to fill with various compression tops and tights and I do agree that it seems to help with DOMS – I never seem to be quite so stiff the day after when I wear it. In my other life as a bowler, I have also been known to occasionally wear a compression sleeve on my arm. There’s quite a bit of debate surrounding these at the moment as bowlers tend to fall into two camps; those who think people are doing it just to look “cool” and those who believe that there are benefits. I fall into the latter, especially as I was wearing them before they were “cool” and whilst I don’t necessarily buy into the performance enhancing hype, I do have a weak wrist and bowling 12+ games in a day is tiring for anyone. I found the sleeves to help keep me just a bit fresher and once again, the stiffness the next day would always be largely avoided.
Certainly, I’m sure the likes of Paula Radcliffe and other elite runners wouldn’t opt for compression clothing unless they believed it was truly beneficial and with compression garments being used in the medical world for years, it makes sense to add to your wardrobe if you are a regular runner. It wouldn’t be right for me to try to talk about the science surrounding these garments, but if you’re more of a plodder like me and less worried about the performance enhancement, I found two other brilliant, if lesser known, benefits when I was marathon training.
1. Because compression clothing is tight fitting, I found it really helped to keep me warm during marathon training in those winter months. Regular readers will know that I am a Sweaty-Betty and I find it really tricky to maintain my body temperature when running as I overheat so damn quickly. I hate layering up for this reason as I end up having to remove layers and carry them which is annoying. With compression tops in particular, due to the tight fit, I found they really help to keep me warm and got rid of the need for me to layer.
2. One for the girls, but due to the tight fit, I also find that extra support is offered in the boob department. Obviously you still MUST wear a sports bra, but I believe that we can never have too much support in the chest area.
It’s well known that compression clothing can be expensive, however stores such as High Octane Sport offer some great quality products at affordable prices, including accessories like sleeves and calve guards. Although it’s probably not worth changing your entire running wardrobe to include exclusively compression clothing, one or two items are sure to become staples. I swear by my Skins top and added bonus for the fashion conscious? Compression clothing looks great on!