Does Compression Sports Gear Work?
Compression socks and other garments promise to improve athletic performance. A new meta-analysis evaluates the evidence for whether they really do.
What to know:
A newly published article in Sports Medicine synthesized results from 183 studies evaluating the effects of compression garments in different ways.
Supporters say that compression garments ― like socks, tights, sleeves, and shirts ― can help you jump higher, run better, recover faster from exercise, and reduce muscle soreness, though evidence of their efficacy is not clear.
The majority of the studies found that the garments did not appear to affect body measures like lactate levels, heart rate, and creatine kinase ― a blood marker of muscle damage.
However, a greater number of the studies (29 out of 50) did find a correlation between perceived muscle soreness and the use of compression garments.
Other studies have suggested that whether an athlete believes that compression garments improve performance might play a role in their ability to actually help, though overall, the data remain inconclusive on their effectiveness.
This is a summary of the article, “The Latest Science on Compression Gear,” published by Outside on December 24, 2021. The full article can be found on outsideonline.com.
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