June 12, 2010
Recently, the use of compression wear among athletes has been increasing rapidly. What was once a product focused towards providing support and improved blood flow for people with poor blood circulation, has now taken on a performance oriented design. 2XU, based out of Australia, is one the industry leaders in compression gear, and their compression socks, leggings, and tights are now permanently inked under the 'staples' section of my touring pack-list.
If you're not familiar with compression wear, it is designed to fit snugly, and assist in supporting your muscles and blood flow. When you put it on, you will actually feel a cooling sensation, and it is comparable laying down with your feet elevated above your head. By keeping circulation through your legs moving, you can avoid that 'heavy' or 'loaded' feeling you get in your legs after long rides. For tours that span many days, this can be a great way to stay fresher throughout the ride.
In addition to recovery properties, compression wear is lightweight, very packable, has an antibacterial material built in to cut down on odor, wicks moisture to prevent chaffing, and provides UPF 50+ sun protection. The high gauge material is circular knit to allow the clothing to stretch in all directions, which gives it outstanding durability and consistent compression.
The full tights fit nicely over your cycling shorts, so you can wear them right up until your ready to ride, and put them back on immediately post-ride. The socks are outstanding for walking around the town or campsite, and I found that the leggings are great for all-around use -- they are even comfortable to sleep in. If your taking compression clothes with you on your next tour, be sure to wear them on the plane or car ride as well to help keep your legs fresh on day one.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.
as with everything there can be numerous studies for an against.
The UCI considers compression clothing Performance Enhancing and therefore it is not legal to race while wearing a compression garment in a UCI sanctioned race. I.E - The TDF.
Here is a synopsis of compression benefits and some studies -
I apologize if the article came off as a PR piece. I try to post information on products and equipment that I myself use, and have experience with on my cycling trips. I looked through the scientific articles out there and I found information pointing in all directions, so I went with personal experience. For me, the truth is that it simply felt good on my legs before and after a ride. If it's lightweight, packable, and adds to comfort, I'm all for it.
I do appreciate your skepticism, as I'm always interested in listening to differing points of view.
I was really skeptical about compression gear, but, I have to admit, I thought it was pretty effective. I stand up almost all day (packing up maps for Adventure Cyclists!) and sometimes it's really hard to motivate myself to ride or run in the afternoon because my feet or legs are worn out, even though I'm not physically tired. On days that I wore compression socks, my feet felt significantly less tired, as did my lower calves. Maybe it was psychosomatic, but hey, isn't it all in the mind, anyway?
Compression clothing for endurance athletes is hype, not substance.
They concluded: "Overall, there were no performance benefits when using the compression garments. "... See More
Like I said, I expect more from Adventure Cycling. This PR fluff piece would be better suited for useless magazines like Bicycling. If the author had literally taken 30 seconds to search "compression clothing studies" on Google he would have found three different studies, all showing the same thing.
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Compression wear has certainly improved my performances when I compete in marathons. Since I started wearing them, I always feel better over the next day.