Compression Kit

I’ve recently started wearing compression clothing on my runs. Never thought I’d see the day, to tell the truth. I’ve long been a “less is more” kind of guy – my usual kit has been just a pair of old school side-split shorts and minimalist sandals.

Why such a dramatic turnaround? Because compression kit works for me, that’s why.

The theory behind compression clothing, in a nutshell, is that it optimizes bloodflow, thereby improving performance, enhancing stamina, and speeding recovery. Proving that it actually works is very much under discussion, though. Folks who like compression garments won’t run without them. Folks who dislike them say they’re more about fashion than fact.

That said, my research turned up this study (among others) in favour of compression clothing. (The journey to a decision also involved anti-anxiety garments for dogs and my Asperger’s Syndrome. But that’s a story for another post.) So I decided I’d give them a try.

I’m pleased to say they work for me. They work very well, in fact. I now own two Under Armour compression shirts (one long-sleeve, one short-sleeve) and a pair of 2XU compression shorts.

Long story short… I run better when wearing my new compression kit. Form is better, pace is better, and recovery is better. The shirts seem to enhance better arm swing, and the shorts allow for better hip extension and flexion. I’m better able to hold my core firmly and strongly.

A couple of added benefits are: 1/ Compression clothing keeps me cooler on a hot day. It spreads out the sweat, which then evaporates more efficiently. 2/ Because compression garments move less against the skin than loose clothing, chafing is reduced or eliminated. No more BodyGlide. No more nipple tape. That makes them a very good thing.

A note of caution: If you’re self-conscious about your body image, you may not want to go the compression route. Compression garments are, by definition, tight. I’m reasonably lean (142 lbs/64.4 kgs on a 5’7″/170cm frame), but I felt like a sausage in a too-small casing the first time I put on a compression shirt. It didn’t take long to get used to it, though.

For me, it’s all good. Highly recommended, if you’re willing to try something new.

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4 comments

  1. Yes, I was rather skeptical about compression, and the jury does seem to be out (as detailed in the ‘Cardio or Weights’ book you reviewed a while back) as to whether they do anything. However, I have a pair of Under Armour tights, and they really do seem to put more energy into my running. Recovery also seems to be faster and more complete, though I’ve had problems sleeping in them, as many sources suggest should be done.
    The problem recently is that I put on just the right amount of weight to make me self concious about how the compression squeezes that into a ‘muffin top’. That will have to go before they can be used again I’m afraid!

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve never thought of myself as vain before, but fear of the muffin top has made me realize that I am! 🙂

  2. I wear compression socks or calf sleeves a whole lot now that I’ve added distance cycling on top of running and they DO help to recover those legs for sure! I have winter compression tights that I also like but haven’t run more than 20k in them… they just seem too restrictive. Glad you’ve found something you like!

    1. Sounds good! For recovery after long runs (such as today’s 35K run), I wear a pair of medical-grade compression stockings I kept after a cancer procedure four years ago. They make recovery quicker and more complete.

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