Before we look at active compression, let’s start off by understanding what compression therapy is. Simply put, it is an effective method of applying controlled pressure to the extremities in order to increase your blood flow activity. Doesn’t sound too complicated right?! While compression therapy has been in existence for some time now, it has primarily been used for treating conditions such as venous disease, diabetes and in general, conditions arising from poor circulation in your legs. Traditionally, compression therapy uses compression socks but in recent times, it has emerged as the latest trend in the sporting industry.
If you’re a cyclist, you’ve likely heard some talk of this and have been wondering whether it has any impact on your performance and recovery. After all, the time spent off the bike recovering is as important to an athlete as the time spent training. It is now popular belief that wearing compression socks during and after exercise can aid performance & recovery by increasing oxygen delivery and blood flow. Let us explore what all the fuss is about! Why is compression gear in every cyclist’s list of must-haves’? Do compression socks have any impact on recovery and performance? Let us start off by looking at the pro’s & cons of compression clothes, and compare it to active compression, which is an alternative to the compression socks most people use.
What Are The Pros & Cons of Compression Clothes?
Compression clothing has now become a necessary part of any athlete’s gear. You’ve likely wondered ”do compression tights work and do they really help with your soreness?’. While they are great in theory, we’d like to point out that accurately measuring soreness can be tricky business. The level of soreness an athlete experiences can be hard to quantify. So, we cannot simply ignore that there may be a very real placebo effect that has a part to play when wearing compression clothing while training. Despite the popularity of compression clothing, the evidence of a significant improvement in performance or recovery in athletes who wear them is not conclusive. It is possible that the psychological boost and the belief that the clothing helps to improve recovery, along with the sensation of compression, may have a greater effect on an athlete's perception of soreness. Let us look at some of the pros and cons of compression clothes in order to get a better idea before you decide on what is the best option for you.
Pro – They help to encourage blood flow
They help to encourage blood flow back up towards the heart and counter the effects of gravity that can cause blood to pool, and thereby reduces swelling.
Con – They can be too tight
When looking at the disadvantages of compression socks, we would classify this as a big one. If you are wondering, ‘is it bad to wear compression pants all day?’ well not really, unless it’s too tight! Too much compression can restrict blood flow, while too little compression has little impact. So, getting the right fit is important.
Pro – You’ve got nothing to lose
Although there is not much evidence in support of compression clothes for athletes to improve their performance, there is also no considerable harm to the wearer. Thus – no harm, no foul.
Con – It only works when you are active
Compression socks use passive compression and for it to be effective and provide relief, it requires you to be active. This essentially means that it only works while you are training or on the bike. An alternative to wearing compression stockings is active compression solutions such as SPRYNG. SPRYNG mimics the action of your calf muscle pump without the need for you to do anything. Compression wraps such as SPRYNG do not require you to be constricted while training and can be worn in the comfort of your home.