Companies like Under Armour have revolutionized the compression garment industry. And it has gone way beyond functionality, as this attire has become interwoven into our fashion culture. Over the past several years, researchers have studied the use of compression garments to determine their potential effects on exercise performance and recovery.
The theory behind these products is that the compression they provide improves/increases circulation, which, in turn, enhances performance and recovery (keep in mind medical compression stockings have been used in the treatment of poor venous blood flow for more than 50 years).
Compression garments speed recovery through direct compression and improved muscle oxygenation. Wearing these garments after exercise has been shown to virtually eliminate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and has shown real improvements in muscle recovery.
Recent research with athletes has shown that compression garments may provide ergogenic benefits (enhancing physical performance) for athletes during exercise by positively influencing psychological factors. Research has also shown that compression garments may promote enhanced recovery during periods following strenuous exercise. Other investigations have suggested that the use of compression garments during recovery periods may reduce the symptoms associated with delayed onset muscle soreness.
Although there have been limited investigations linking the influence of compression garments on athletic performance, it appears the use of compression garments may have a positive effect on athletes during exercise and during recovery periods following exercise. To date, no studies have reported negative effects on exercise performance, and so the use of compression garments may provide a useful training tool for athletes across a wide variety of sports.
Ultimately, it appears that compression clothing is an effective recovery strategy following exercise-induced muscle damage.
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