Compression clothing was invented all the way back in 1950, and it has a long history of being used to alleviate pain and throbbing from physical conditions like varicose veins. But it was only in the 1980s that it saw wide use in the field of sports. Runners, in particular, began seeing the value of wearing compression socks. They noticed that the light pressure improved their circulation, reduced stress in their muscles, and helped them recover much faster from exhaustion.
Nowadays, specialty gear like compression socks for men is all the rage. Professional athletes wear them to be more comfortable during sporting events, but they’re used just as often by ordinary folks who lead active lifestyles. This includes people who like to exercise regularly and people whose jobs require them to always be on their feet, such as pilots, flight attendants, and medical staff.
If you’re considering some compression gear for yourself, what are your options? How will you be able to tell which compression clothes are the best for your lifestyle? To answer those questions, here’s a short guide on the different types of compression gear that are widely available. This information will help you decide on which garments to incorporate into your outfits for your exercise, work, or commuting routines.
The Three Types of Compression Gear You’ll Encounter on the Market
Some items of compression clothing, like graduated compression stockings, are only meant to be used for medical purposes. But there is a category of non-medical support hosiery that can be worn for everyday purposes. They are the following:
Compression Clothing for the Upper Body
This type of compression clothing is meant to reduce incidences of swelling and inflammation in the upper body. One example of how this technology is put into practice lies in the shirts used in soccer kits. Some of these shirts contain compression panels, which help soccer players recover some of their muscle function while they’re out on the pitch.
Another example is that of compression sleeves, which can be worn on either arm. These can offer extra support for actions like shooting a basketball. There’s even a variety of smart compression wear that can track athletic performance and give athletes feedback on how to improve their movement. Thanks to these discoveries, compression clothing for the upper body is very much in demand.
Compression Clothing for the Quadriceps, Gluteal Muscles, and Hips
There are also compression garments that are meant to be worn on the lower body, adding support to the quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and hips. Some items, like the compression clothing used for sports like baseball, come with additional padding at the hips to protect players from injuries related to sliding or falling.
Compression tights and cycling shorts with sewn-in protective pockets at the front have also emerged as a more popular alternative to the traditional jockstrap. Aside from protecting the lower body and minimizing fatigue, these garments also look and feel more pleasing to wear, therefore boosting the often-overlooked factor of maintaining athletes’ morale.
Compression Clothing for the Calves
The last type of compression wear that you’ll find on the market is the type that exerts light pressure on the calves. The best example is a pair of compression socks. Some varieties of compression socks are meant to be used in medical contexts, such as to decrease the chance of orthostatic hypotension or deep vein thrombosis. That said, some products can be bought over the counter and used by athletes and ordinary people alike.
Compression socks can be worn while running, jogging, or completing a full workout at the gym. But they may also prove handy for long shifts at work, like in a hospital or a restaurant or café. They’ll provide additional comfort not only when the wearer is standing up, but also when sitting down for long periods. This makes them an ideal garment for travelers who’ll be enduring airplane flights that are more than five hours long.
Is It Worth It to Spend on Compression Clothing?
Before you make any sweeping conclusions about compression garments and active lifestyles, remember that the science is still evolving. Studies have shown that good compression clothing may improve muscle economy, therefore lengthening the time until someone feels fatigued. Beyond the reduction of fatigue, pain, and swelling, the relationship between compression clothing and athletic performance needs to be studied more closely. Compression garments shouldn’t be thought of as a magic bullet to enhance athleticism or an instant cure for longstanding pain.
That said, they may be worth looking into if any of the use cases listed above hearken to your current lifestyle. What’s important is that you buy compression clothing with the right amount of squeeze and that you choose the ones that suit your particular needs. Before purchasing any new compression clothes, you may want to seek the advice of your doctor, coach, or other contacts who may have tried them before. Consider their feedback before buying yourself the right compression garments.