Okay, so between 2008 and 2010 alone sales of compression fitness gear skyrocketed by over 170% and the industry has been chugging along ever since. So to, has the technology that goes into creating these modern products of quasi-spandex-nylon fabric; in a similar fashion to fitness trackers and wearables.
But, what’s the deal? Can compression wear really increase performance, strength and stamina? Well, first of all, we’re not talking about spandex from the 80’s here folks. Yikes! In this article let’s take a closer look and try to reach as realistic a conclusion as possible.
What Do Scientists Say?
Get ready to be completely and utterly shocked! Wait for it…ahem,
“These scientists from over here claim it works and compression gear provides clear benefits. While on the other hand these scientists over there claim the complete opposite. And both have data/studies to back up their theories/claims.”
That’s the truth. Though we should keep in mind that compression gear originated from the medical field and has been in use for some time now, especially in physical/occupational therapy clinics. Even today doctors and sports physicians far and wide prescribe the use of compression gear to their patients dealing with blood circulation issues.
So, for the fitness industry the thinking is …
Increased Blood Flow to Muscles = Better Recovery
Does compression gear increase power and agility? Not in everyone no. Does everyone experience the same degree of improved muscle recovery? No. And here again we find plenty of conflicting data from the “experts.” But if you go online right now, this second, and begin to read what people (not specialists) have to say you’ll get a versatile landscape of responses. The same thing goes for actual athletes as well.
For Example: Let’s take a look at the popular Compressport R2 Compression
Calf Sleeves from, a clear leader in the niche. After a cursory look online for customer reviews, here’s a taste of what people are experiencing. Let’s start with a 5 star!
“I've switched to a minimal style running shoe and as a result have had strained calf muscles for the past few months. They progressively got worse to the point it was not only causing pain in my calves but in my knee as well. I decided on ordering a pair of these based on the other reviews that had been posted. I'm very happy with my purchase. I noticed a difference after just the first run with these. After using for the past week the pain in my calves has decreased. I find these brilliant. I would cramp in my calves quite regularly in very intense sessions but these make a massive difference. They fit very well and do not get too hot though do not allow you to cool down too much when doing stop start sessions. I know have a few pairs to keep them rotating throughout the week".
Wow! That’s really saying something. But wait a minute, here’s what another person said about the same product:
“After ongoing problems with calf stiffness after long distance, I gave these a try and while they both look and feel great when wearing, I found the overall benefit to be minimal and actually found the less restrictive compression socks to be more effective. Long term the biggest improvement to recovery time just came with a stepped up daily stretching regime and an increase of leg strength.”
Hmmm. How about a more “middle of the road” perspective:
“These are my first and only calf sleeves. I bought them as I have weak, injury prone calves and wear them to make my calves feel like they are more “together” during training runs. I don’t know how exactly the compressions sleeves work, nor whether they did work, but they do give me a good mental safety net whenever my calves are feeling dodgy. They fit well – the sizing chart is very accurate. They do feel a bit hot if you run in warmer climates, but in cooler temperatures, they are good to have to keep your calves warm. The quality is quite good – they still look new even after a good many wears".
Sheesh. At the end of the day though there’s roughly 50 positive reviews for every 1 negative review, so that says something. And let’s face it, fantastic looking sporty compression gear doesn’t come cheap. So if it was all hype, or some world-wide placebo effect, wouldn’t that have fizzled out by now?
We believe in proven benefits of compression gear and we’ve listened to the countless voices of amateur and professional athletes alike.