A closer look at compression for runners

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Compression garments for runners aren’t just about tighter-fitting clothing. There’s a science behind compression: it can improve sporting performance and endurance, increase muscle efficiency and power, enhance recovery time and reduce the risk of injury.

Here, we take a closer look at compression, and find out what it does to the body and how it aids training, racing and recovery.

Woman running in compression kit

The history of compression

The use of compression began in the medical field, when compression garments were used to treat circulatory diseases such as lymphedema, which causes swelling in the arms and legs.

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Today’s graduated compression garments worn by athletes follow the same principle, while incorporating the latest technology and using precise materials to enhance performance and comfort while training, racing or recovering.

compression sleeves running orange A guide to graduated compression

Graded compression creates varying degrees of tightness or pressure throughout the compression garment in order to promote increased venous blood flow to the heart and stimulate lymph flow in a specific limb.

Graded compression encourages blood to flow away from the working limbs and towards the heart, helping to reduce aching and swelling. Lymphatic stimulation is important to relieve fluid and reduce swelling post-exercise, but because the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to move fluid to the lymph glands (unlike the heart and circulatory system), lymph drainage can be encouraged with exercise and compression.

Using a pair of compression tights as an example, the highest level of compression will be at the ankle, the next at the calf and so on, graduating and easing off the pressure as the garment goes up to the thigh.

Men's running compression shorts Womens running compression shorts

The science behind compression for runners

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The fitness industry follows the ‘Sigel profile’ as a basis for validating compression, which concludes that the average femoral vein blood flow is increased to 138.4% baseline with a graduation of compression of 18mmHg at the ankle and 8mmHg at the thigh.

In order to meet the requirements for effective graduated compression, key measurements have to be built into the development of any graduated compression garments. They need to be able to support the key muscle groups, empowering the user to perform at their very best during and after exercise.

Fabrics must offer support, endurance, durability, comfort and breathability while being able to deal with vigorous training, races and recovery, and still maintain their shape and the correct level of compression. The right fabric will support the iliotibial (ITB) band and knee, while increasing blood flow to the calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes. This helps to reduce lactic acid build-up and improve performance and recovery time.

Running compression shortsTo find out more about Zone3’s new Compression and Fitness range for runners, go to https://zone3.com/collections/medical-grade-compression.

*This article was provided by Zone3, but Run Deep has not be paid to publish it*

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