Many athletes wear compression garments which are not adjusted to their measurements and do not fully benefit from the benefits of these garments. In this article, we will try to help you understand what compression garments are for and guide you to help you benefit from them after your work out.
For the sake of simplicity, we will stop at clothes for the lower body: feet and calves. These are the first pieces to buy for running and cycling.
What is the role of compression stockings?
The compression stockings, by definition, will compress the muscle (calf here), to reduce the diameter of the veins and thus return the blood to the heart more effectively. The role of the veins is to bring the “deoxygenated” blood back to the heart so that it can be oxygenated again. Valves in the veins act as one-way doors, preventing blood from flowing the other way. The muscle, when it flexes, crushes the veins and facilitates the ascent of blood to the heart.
The compression stocking helps to improve this phenomenon by compressing the veins a little more. Get one of the most reliable Men Compression Socks.
What are their benefits for the sportsman?
All compression brands are unanimous in offering 5 benefits to people:
Improve performance by optimizing blood circulation
By compressing the veins, as we have seen, compression stockings help bring used blood back to the heart. By keeping the muscles oxygenated, we reduce the effects of fatigue, such as cramps, which allows us to keep a more efficient running dynamic, for longer, resulting in a more interesting overall performance. Now don’t expect them to help you improve your performance significantly! Obviously, compression stockings are no substitute for workouts! If you want to study more about the benefits of compression socks during the workout, read more here.
Reduce injuries by prioritizing muscle maintenance
This is particularly true in running where impacts with the ground are frequent and somewhat traumatic. These impacts create micro lesions in the calf. When it is maintained in the same axis, thanks to the compression stocking, the movements linked to the impact on the ground are attenuated and therefore make it possible to limit these micro lesions.
These impacts also have a negative impact on the pain generated in the tibia. The fact of wearing compression stockings reduced the risk of developing shin splints, and in some cases, allowed to reduce the pain.
Reduce recovery time by limiting toxins in the muscle
As seen in the previous point, by limiting micro lesions, the bottom will undoubtedly improve the recovery of the sportsman who wears it, since the muscle will be less “damaged” than if it had been kept in the same axis during the race.
Beyond that, the compression stockings, by promoting blood return, will allow the faster evacuation of toxins and lactic acid and therefore reduce the recovery time necessary for intense and / or long effort.
And if we can easily say that it is a fashion effect, the compression socks/sleeves still have more advantages. Their effect on venous return is more noticeable than the classic “grandmother” stockings!
As a performance aid
This kind of material seems to bear fruit during repeated exercises. the use of a compression garment seems to have positive effects during repetitions of intense exercises (performance in repetitions of sprints for example).
Several factors are impacted by compression: mechanical factors (decrease in muscle vibrations, decrease in muscle recruitment, decrease in energy cost), thermal factors (modification of thermoregulation, increase in muscle temperature), psychological factors (decrease in perception of pain), nervous factors (increase in proprioception, increase in coordination and balance) and hemodynamic factors (increase in oxygen supply, decrease in muscle inflammation and edema, decrease in pain).
To better recover
Wearing compression socks or sleeves will have a significant effect on recovery. It has been checked and proven by specialists.
The compression effect allows rapid elimination of venous blood that is poorly oxygenated and filled with toxins, which makes it possible to recover as quickly as possible to continue training and competitions in better conditions. They can also be worn for the sake of comfort. Thus, they should be worn as soon as you stop exercising and for 12 to 24 hours to reduce the perception of pain and improve recovery of muscle function (decrease in muscle fatigue and increase in recovery speed).
Who are compression stockings for?
First, compression stockings are intended for athletes, wishing to improve their performance or speed up their recovery. Those with a high training volume or who are preparing for a competition with intensive training (in intervals).
Endurance athletes are the ones who should experience the most benefits from wearing these products since they are created to reduce the effects of fatigue, which is more “measurable” over long training sessions.
In addition, the use of compression stockings can be interesting for people who train over shorter distances but who often experience muscle discomfort or cramps in the calves.
On the other hand, people who work standing and those who travel a lot will find some comfort in wearing these compression stockings, allowing them to reduce the effect of fatigue. We think in particular of waiters in restaurants who trample a lot and can quickly feel the effect of heavy legs. Note, however, that some companies offer products dedicated to this use, so the specifics of the products are different for the practice of the sport.
On the contrary, in the case of known venous problems, it is better to speak to a doctor before buying compression stockings.
What type of compression stockings do I need?
First, you must differentiate the compression stockings to be used during exercise from those intended for recovery. To understand the distinction, you must know that the universal measurement used to define the compression applied is expressed in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
Most companies manufacturing compression garments use compression of 20 to 25 mmHg for compression stockings and 25 to 30 mmHg of mercury for recovery stockings. By compressing the veins a little more, blood returns even faster and “cleans” the calf by ejecting the used blood and replacing it with fresh blood.
To know what type of compression stockings you need, you need to understand these few scenarios.
You train, in endurance, and feel muscle discomfort during the effort: in this case, the idea is to wear a compression stocking during the effort. These are the most common, those that we see on all races. For this category of products, you can choose, according to your preferences, to wear compression sleeves (leaving the foot free) or complete compression stockings, integrating a sock. The effect is the same on the calf, and it is mainly to compress the arch of the foot in order to stimulate the first pump, which is the foot. This point is a debate between brands, and our goal here is not to decide on what is better, simply to show you the different options. Full stockings can also help prevent plantar fasciitis problems.
You train in running and feel discomfort in the tibia (or want to avoid them): In this specific case, you must again wear compression stockings during exercise. By ensuring a slight compression on the micro veins around the tibia, and by tightening, we reduce the risk of periostitis linked to repeated impacts.
After an intense and a long workout, you regularly have the feeling of heavy legs: Recovery stockings will quickly become essential allies in your case. By compressing the muscles, a little more than during the effort, they allow evacuating the toxins accumulated during the effort. It is important to wear them as quickly as possible after training or competition and this, for a period of two hours for optimal efficiency. They can be worn more if needed. It is also important to note that the recovery socks should not be worn during the effort and that the compression socks are compatible with the recovery socks, in other words, you can wear compression sleeves during the effort, and then replace with your recovery stockings.