Depending on your point of view, you’ll either swear by the use of compression clothing, or you’ll scoff at the very notion.
The facts, backed by various lengthy studies and experiments are:
Compression clothing is proven to;
1. Enhance blood flow, increasing the rate at which muscles receive oxygenated blood.
2. Speed up the removal of unwanted waste (Lactic Acid that the body can’t otherwise use up) in order to avoid fatigue or failure.
3. Support muscles and assist maintenance of correct posture during activity, so reducing the risk of injury through muscle misalignment or trauma.
But – if you’re like me – every now and then, you’ll use it and wonder whether it’s actually doing anything…
For me, compression falls within the same category as lube sticks and toesocks, for never really offering any solid evidence of their benefits.
I usually slap on the lube and the toe socks, before heading out for a really long or really fast run (by my own standards) and at no time do I experience a running high for having used them. No clear sign that they’re enhancing my experience.
But then again…………..nothing negative either.
And boy have I been through enough negative.
It’s worth mentioning, that I’m already at odds with half the folk who champion the use of compression clothing, in that unlike a great of them, I don’t actually bother to wear the compression while I’m running. I find it a little distracting and restrictive. I get so hot when I run, that I prefer to keep it minimal.
I rely on my compression socks as a means of fast-tracking my recovery. Avoiding the worst that can and will happen if I over do it. You can bet that by the time I’ve completed a 50 mile race and have hobbled back to my car, I’m counting the minutes ’til I can stretch on a pair of Energize socks from Hilly, just to be sure.
The reason is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). I know from experience that the day after an ultra I’m sore. Really sore. But having managed to go about my usual routine as best as I can, despite the tired and tight muscles in my lower legs and feet, the worst is yet to come.
Race Day + 2 = BOOM! Like you’ve had a fight with a Bear. It’s either rubber legs, or excruciating pain upon first attempt at the stairs. Climbing in/out the car, up/down curb stones, rushing awkwardly across the road to avoid traffic, all slightly more eventful when DOMS have crashed the party. Bending down to tie my laces and contemplating not getting back up again!
But when I’ve donned the knee length compression socks, hidden beneath my jeans, I simply continue with my day – and nobody else is any the wiser. Sometimes, I’ve gone so far as to wear them to bed the first night after my run and gained another advantage over simply resting and hoping for the best.
Days pass and I fail to notice anything extreme. I seem to recover in fine fashion. Almost convincing me that I might have tried a little harder during the race…..
Then I ponder…..was that down to the socks and their compressive technology? Would a couple of days rest not have made the difference anyway?
From memory – there was a time before I owned Compression (painful/silly walks/audible groans) and there’s the time spent since. I still PB and I still bite off more than I can chew on occasion, but I don’t fear the top step of the stairs anymore.
They may have acted more as a placebo than a direct influence on my legs, but to be frank, while I feel as good as I do when they’re on – that’s fine with me.
For many visitors at the Accelerate Performance Centre, it’s these little additions to their running wardrobe that allow them to overcome previous injury or to gain enough strength that the issues no longer arise. They can be short term solution or permanent fixture.
Better to have them and not always need them, than to need them and limp all the way to the running store like a Zombie.
At Accelerate we’ve a great range of Compression Socks and Calf Tights for people of all sizes, regardless of whether you wish to wear them during or after exercise, day or night. With options for use with or without the built in socks, so if you’d prefer to exploit the benefits without sacrificing your favourite socks – you can. Brands include Hilly, Salomon, Injinji,Skins and inov-8 (Calf Guards, not so compressive, but protective all the same).
Pop in to the store or give us a call to find out how Compression can help you.
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