Does compression wear actually work?

Compression Wear

Compression wear is said to boost athletic performance by improving blood circulation, which in turn supplies more oxygen to the muscles helping them to work harder. Additionally, the garments support the muscles leading to less tissue damage and reduced soreness after exercise. Recovery time is reportedly quicker and the risk of injury is also reduced. Claims also state that compression wear regulates body temperature by cooling you down in warm conditions and keeping you warm in the cold.

I’ve always been slightly skeptical of compression wear. I feel as though the benefits sound too good to be true- can a item of clothing really improve my performance and speed up my recovery that significantly? I know many people who swear by calf guards or compression socks, but personally I’ve found they just make my legs itchy and uncomfortable.

When SKINS got in touch to offer a product review, I was hesitant given my views on compression clothing. SKINS have conducted detailed research into compression technology and claim to offer scientifically proven garments which rival all other functional base layers on the market. They believe that after trying a pair of their tights, my mind would be changed about compression clothing. I decided to set aside my preconceptions and take SKINS up on their offer.

After browsing the website, I chose the A400 Starlight Compression Long Tights. These are one of SKINS best-selling items, but with the addition of reflective graphics for visibility when running at night- perfect now that most of my runs are in the pitch black.

My initial thoughts on receiving the tights were how soft, stretchy and comfortable they are. They are a tight fit but not restrictively so- if compression wear is too tight, it can constrict blood flow and if it is too loose then the benefits are minimal. Unlike regular sportswear, the SKINS sizing guide is based on an algorithm of your height and weight, based on my measurements I took a size Large. The fabric is high-quality and stays completely opaque, even when bending to stretch.

These tights have fast become my go-to item of clothing- I’ve worn them regularly over the past month, putting them through their paces at track sessions, parkruns and hill repeats. I’ve certainly noticed the warming effects of the fabric, even when running in -4 degrees in Berlin I didn’t feel the cold on my legs.

Compression Wear

The tights look and feel great, I love the panels and reflective details. They wash well and maintain their shape. Unlike previous socks and calf guards I’ve used, these tights didn’t make my skin feel itchy at all.

As for improved performance and recovery, I can’t honestly say that I have noticed a difference. My running times are gradually improving, but I believe this is a result of consistent effort rather than from the SKINS. Perhaps there is a placebo effect for wearers- there is a perception of greater strength and stability when your legs are wrapped in high-tech fabric. I tend to recover fairly quickly anyway and only tend to suffer from DOMS when I am doing training involving heavy weights. Currently I’m not doing any weight-training, so it might be interesting to test the effects of SKINS during and after this type of workout.

Compression Wear

SKINS currently have some great Black Friday discounts on their site if you would like to test the effects of compression for yourself.

Tights were sent for review, but as always opinions are my own.

Do you wear compression clothing? Have you noticed any benefits?

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12 Comments

  1. November 28, 2016 / 8:27 pm

    I always wondered if they actually work! I think it’s got to be worth a try and the leggings look fab. I guess whatever helps and you feel comfortable in is all good. I may well try some out for long hikes 🙂

    • December 1, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Yeah definitely give them a go for long hikes and see how you find them 🙂

  2. November 28, 2016 / 9:37 am

    I use compression socks for recovery after long hikes and genuinely think they help me; so not in terms of performance but definitely to reduce the aching (and ankle/foot swelling!). I don’t fancy wearing compression tights or tops during exercise though, I just don’t fancy feeling all squeezed in.

    • December 1, 2016 / 8:04 pm

      Interesting, quite a few people say that compression socks help with aching/swelling, but I just find they make my legs so itchy!

  3. November 25, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    Interesting read – I’m getting a compression top for Xmas – mainly to add an extra layer to keep off the chill rather than any performance benefit.

    • November 26, 2016 / 11:58 am

      Sounds good, they definitely help to keep warm on chilly days.

  4. November 25, 2016 / 6:50 pm

    I nearly always wear compression socks when I run and I find they do improve my performance.. whether that’s mind over matter though I don’t know!

    • November 26, 2016 / 12:00 pm

      Really, that’s interesting. Compression socks just really irritate my skin, I just can’t get on with them.

  5. November 25, 2016 / 5:49 pm

    I love wearing compression socks after a run- they make my legs feel way better.

    • November 26, 2016 / 12:00 pm

      Oh really? They just seem to irritate my skin and make my legs itch!

  6. November 25, 2016 / 12:03 pm

    I have only ever tried on a friend’s compression top and although finding it very funny, didn’t really feel like it was something that I would get into. I have always wondered whether it was a bit of placebo effect there and nice to read your opinion on it too. I think I’ll give them a miss though.

    • November 26, 2016 / 12:01 pm

      Agree, I do think it is a bit of a placebo effect, but if people find it works for them then that’s all good 🙂

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