Should You Try Compression Garments?

Tons of compression pieces claim to improve your athletic performance and make you better, faster and stronger. But do they really work? Well, sort of.

According to a new study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research, compression stockings impact runners in a few key ways. To find out how, the athletes in the study were split into two groups based on their personal running economy, or how much oxygen they use on a run. They then ran a time-limit trial on a treadmill, running at 105 percent of the pace they ran in a recent 10K race, wearing compression stockings or regular running gear. Those wearing the compression bottoms reached a lower percentage of their maximum heart rate during the time test, which compression pants could help with endurance and speed. Those athletes in the compression garments also took longer to fatigue than the normal-clothing runners (387 seconds versus 337 seconds).

On the other hand, there was no significant difference between compression clothing and non-compression clothing on the running economy of the athletes or on their kinematics (method of motion). The researchers also stated in their report that there may be an accommodation period required to fully reap the benefits of compression clothing, though they admit further study is needed.

What does this mean for you? If you're a competitive runner, it may be worth giving compression gear a shot -- even a small boost can make a difference there. If you're more of a causal jogger, it's unlikely you're going to benefit too much. But of course, compression gear isn't all about the performance -- they can make your legs look really, really good.