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

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