What is compression gear?
Have you ever been out at a park or working out at the gym, and you see someone wearing just one, tight sleeve on their arm, or tight, knee-high sock looking garments? These items are actually called compression garments, and they are available in many different variations: arm sleeves, full socks, calf sleeves, quad and knee sleeves, shorts- you name it, they’ve made it!
How does it work?
The science behind compression gear is pretty simple. Compression garments are used mainly to stimulate blood flow by putting pressure on your veins, thereby increasing blood flow. An increase in circulation benefits athletes in many ways, including shortening recovery time and reducing swelling that may occur after especially intense workouts. Distance runners commonly used compression gear both during and after long runs to enhance circulation and relieve muscle tension, soreness, or swelling.
Another benefit compression gear offers is its ability to keep muscles warm and loose. By promoting continual circulation, compression gear keeps athletes limber and helps prevent any muscle stiffening or tightening.
What injuries can it help?
Compression gear can help athletes suffering from:
- Shin splints
- Calf strain
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Muscle tension
- Varicose veins
For athletes experiencing these injuries, keep in mind that compression gear is a great, though temporary “fix” for most injuries. Seeking treatments such as acupuncture or massage therapy can be a much more long-term solution, especially for those of you who experience consistent injuries in these areas.
I’ve been wearing compression socks for the past 2 years. I first realized I needed something like compression socks because the veins in my legs were enlarged after almost every run. It was painful, and prohibitive, as I felt I couldn’t properly stretch my legs in fear of enlarging my veins further or experiencing any more pain caused by my veins. After doing some research, I learned that enlarged veins are also known as “varicose veins,” and that this swelling can sometimes be combatted by wearing compression socks. So, I searched up the highest rated compression socks I could find on Amazon (yes, I know there are so many specialty running stores, but I’m an Amazon junkie!), and purchased my first pair of compression calf sleeves.
That was 2 years ago, and I’m still wearing calf sleeves and full compression socks to this day. Usually, I’ll wear them if I run over 4 miles, and I’ll never run a race without them, even if it’s less than 4 miles. I have seen such an improvement in my varicose veins after using compression socks. No more enlarged veins, no more fear of stretching. I am able to run long distances on hard surfaces, if need be, and I run with confidence, knowing that my compression socks are helping keep my blood flowing, giving me a more pleasant running experience and a shorter recovery time.
In addition to the benefits I’ve seen from compression socks, I can also attest to a huge improvement in my veins, calf muscles, and foot muscles due to regular massage sessions. Compression gear helps me during my workouts, and it assists in my recovery time, but massage helps keep my blood flowing in between workouts, and it adds a sense of relaxation to my recovery as well.
There are so many brands, styles, colors, and levels of compression gear out there, and I don’t claim to be an expert on all of them by any means. So, instead, I’ll leave you with the two brands I’ve tried and used religiously over the last two years: CamdenGear and 2XU. Both of these brands offer plenty of sizes and styles to meet individual shoppers’ tastes, but more importantly, both brands offer quality. Their compression gear is easy to wear, easy to clean, and easy to take care of. I’ve been using the same few pairs of calf sleeves and socks for almost 2 years, and they still work just as well as the day I first wore them.
In addition to researching your compression gear options, I highly recommend researching your massage therapy and acupuncture options, and Anjuna Medicine offers both massage therapy and acupuncture for athletes!