Gear

The Big Squeeze: Compression Gear

Improve blood flow, reduce soreness, and combat inflammation with compression wear.

The Big Squeeze: Compression Gear
Courtesy of Tommie Copper

We’ve all learned to embrace muscle soreness as a sign of time well spent in the gym, but when soreness is holding you back from hitting your next workout with the same intensity, it stops being a badge of honor and instead becomes more of a literal pain in the ass.

Thankfully, there’s a researched-backed solution to muscle soreness that requires you to do pretty much nothing. A popular choice for endurance athletes, compression clothing has been found to soothe delayed onset muscle soreness and inflammation as well as improve endurance, regulate body temperature, and reduce muscular damage.

What the Science Says

There are several theories on how compression garments work. A popular one is that they constrict the muscles, leading to less muscle vibrations during exercise—which possibly equates to decreased soreness. Another theory is that squeezing muscles, particularly in the extremities, improves blood and oxygen flow, sending more blood and oxygen back to the heart and tissues. In its most fundamental application, compressing the muscles simply makes athletes more aware of their bodies—how they’re moving, their posture, and their muscle contractions. This awareness leads to more efficient movement and more bang for your buck with each workout.

Try It Out

While sleeves and tights are the most common forms of compression gear, the technology is continually improving. Now you can find compression clothing in all forms, from socks and gloves to back-supporting shirts. One of our favorites is this lower-back support shirt from Tommie Copper. Combining the muscle-recovery benefits of compression with posture support, this shirt is made from their proprietary heavyweight 4D stretch fabric and designed to contour to your lower back, providing exceptional support. It’s odor-absorbing and moisture-wicking, so it’s perfect for a workout or just to wear as an undershirt while you’re working (because, let’s face it, that’s when we’re doing the most damage to our backs).

Get it at tommiecopper.com; $80.

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