HOW TO USE COMPRESSION TO MAKE YOU A BETTER RUNNER
Us runners are always looking for new ways to run further, faster, and for longer.
Now commonplace amongst marathoners and 5K runners alike compression is everywhere but what is the technology behind it and does it really work?
So how does compression running gear work?
Research conducted by the Centre of Expertise for Health and Fitness in Germany on the effect of 2XU compression wear "clearly suggest that endurance performance is optimised by the wearing of compressive garments.” So how does it actually work?
Modern compression gear uses 'graduated technology' constructed from specially designed seams and panels. This means that it puts the most pressure on your extremities such as your wrists and ankles and gradually reduces this pressure towards your heart.
This technology delivers a controlled amount of pressure, in all the key places, to improve your venous return - the rate of fresh, oxygenated blood to your muscles and deoxygenated blood back to the heart - and reduce lactic acid.
Studies by one of the leading compression brands CEP, whose medical led engineering has over 60 years of research and development, found that consistent pressure applied by their products improves the flow of oxygenated blood by up to 40%.
While the study on 2XU showed that “compression garments not only have the potential to optimise performance…they also have a central role to play in the recovery process.” This is because compression gear wraps and supports your key muscles to reduce movement and focus direction for less oscillation (vibration) reducing your soft tissue damage. SKINS compression found that not only does this help you recover faster but their runners “demonstrated that they used less energy when running at a sub-maximal speed. They were more economical and efficient” concluding that the stability and control helps you run further, for longer, and with less effort.
So what about lactic acid?
When you exercise your body needs energy and so breaks down molecules to get it. Lactic acid is one of these molecules released. Small amounts of lactic acid are a good temporary energy source, reducing fatigue during a run.
But lactic acid only helps for a short period of time; a side effect of this natural metabolic process is that an increase in the acidity of the muscle cells can cause a burning sensation in your muscles, slowing its ability to keep going. Lactic acid usually clears from your system within 30-60 minutes of working out.
By reducing the lactic acid production, combined with increased blood flow and less soft tissue damage, your muscles will be able to keep going for longer, with less damage (and less pain to you), meaning they’ll return to normal more quickly, reducing your chance of delayed onset muscles soreness, or DOMS.
What should compression feel like?
When buying compression clothing you’ll notice that your recommended size is not determined by your regular measurements but by BMI sizing using your height and weight to ensure it fits your body properly.
This means it’ll be a tight fit, much tighter when compared to regular running tights, but not painful or restrictive to your movement.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the tighter it is the better it will perform. It must fit your body properly; too tight compression can prevent circulation.
Your clothing does not need breaking in, and will return its tight, supportive stretch for around 40-60 washes, or the same distance as your running shoes
Most importantly, it should be comfortable, a brand that works for one runner may not work for another so try on different types to find your perfect fit.
The benefits of wearing compression
- Increased recovery speed
The pain you feel in the hours and days after a run is the result of microtrauma to your muscles and connective tissue causing inflammation. Increased blood circulation reduces the swelling of your muscles helping them to repair more quickly.
- Reduces muscle fatigue
By reducing the oscillation of your muscles, the vibration of your muscles with the impact, your legs are less likely to feel tired and fatigued keeping you running for longer while reducing the soft tissue damage to improve your recovery.
- Improved circulation
Improving circulation delivers more oxygen to your active muscles which means increased performance.
- Less cramp
By improving your circulation your body is able to flush out the lactic acid and metabolic waste, giving you more power during your run, and reducing your cramp after you run.
- Reduces risk of injury
Compression gear places controlled pressure over key areas putting them under less strain, and with the added boost of blood flow, reduces your risk of injury.
- Temperature control
The technical fabrics that make up compression clothing are sweat-wicking and breathable keeping you dry and comfortable, and cooler when it’s hot and warmer when it’s cold.
Is running compression gear worth it?
Wearing compression gear doesn't mean you're guaranteed to smash your PB or avoid running injuries.
Instead, you’ll feel the benefits of quicker recovery and improved performance making it a really easy and effortless trick to becoming a better runner.
The influence of SKINS A400 lower body compression garments on running and neuromuscular performance.
Effect of 2XU-compression wear on endurance performance and functional energy metabolism.
Informing the reader about the benefits of compression, to include the how and why it works (Science).
Promote Runners Need range of compression from 2XU, CEP and SKINS.
What the reader will take away:
Why they should run in compression
How it will benefit their training
An easy, bitesize understanding of the science behind compression
The knowledge that they can buy the best quality compression gear from Runners Need.