Compression garments are pieces of clothing, such as socks, pantyhose, sleeves, etc., that provide support that is especially useful for people who have to stand for long periods, or people with poor circulation. The garments can come in varying degrees of compression. The higher degrees require a doctor's prescription. Compression garments worn on the legs can help prevent deep vein thrombosis and reduce swelling, especially while traveling.
Compression sportswear is also worn by some athletes during exercise to prevent chafing and rashes, and post-exercise to ease muscle stiffness and quicken recovery time.
Through testing repeat-sprint and throwing performance in cricket players, it was found that there was a significant difference (p<0.05) by way of higher mean skin temperature, lower 24 hour post exercise CK values and lower 24 hour post exercise ratings of muscle soreness when wearing compression garments.
In materials testing, the compressive garment provided increased flexion and extension, which could help reduce hamstring injuries. They also reduced impact by 27% compared to American football pants alone.
The benefits of wearing compression garments are:
- Helps relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness.
- Reducing the time taken for muscles to repair themselves
- When the right amount of compression is used (will vary depending on body area, typically in the range of 10 to 25 mmHg), improved venous return and oxygenation to working muscles.
Compression stockings are specialized hosiery designed to help prevent the occurrence of and guard against further progression of various medical disorders.
The main benefits of compression sportswear is that it keeps the muscles warm to prevent muscle strain and fatigue, and wick sweat away from the body to prevent chafing and rashes. In addition, there is some evidence that compression shorts may enhance athletic performance. Compression sportswear also helps to keep undergarments in place, and for certain sports, like baseball and softball, come with padding at the hips to protect players from injuries due to sliding.
There are many types of compression garments that serve a similar function, such as compression t-shirts, socks, sleeves, and tights. Common and popular brands are Lurbel, Skins, Supacore, CoovyWear, BV Sport, CEP, 2XU, IXS, iTRACC, SIX30, Compressport, Nike, Under Armour, BSc Body Science, McDavid, Easton, Zensah, EC3D, PT Gear, Reebok, Stromgren and Adidas.
Shorts and tights
Compression shorts and tights are undergarments usually worn by athletes. They are form-fitting garments and when worn cover the athlete's waist to mid or lower thigh, similar to cycling shorts. Two major differences between compression and cycling shorts, however, are that cycling shorts have seat padding typically made of chamois, and compression shorts have paneling to add a higher degree of pressure to the thigh and hamstring.
More recently, jockstraps have declined in popularity with young male athletes, and garments such as compression shorts have seen an increase in popularity, arguably because of their comparable function and less embarrassing looks. Many are available with a "cup pocket", or a sewn-in pocket that can hold a protective cup. It is arguable that compression shorts do not keep cups in the proper position, tight to the body and not moving, like a jockstrap can. Some players wear the compression shorts over the traditional jockstrap.
Compression shorts are also popular among female athletes, especially among those who wear skirts or kilts during games. In those situations, athletes wear compression shorts under the skirt so if they fall over and their skirts ride up, their underwear will not be exposed. This is seen particularly in women's lacrosse and field hockey (both being no-contact sports in which players often wear skirts). In this situation, compression shorts are colloquially identified as spandex shorts. Women also wear compression shorts in tennis; where most recently, compression shorts have been produced with ball pockets for convenience. There are also women's compression shorts for use before, during and after pregnancy. Pregnancy compression shorts supports upper and lower abdominal muscles, caesarean wounds and perineal stitches.
- Duffield (2007). "Comparison of three types of full-body compression garments on throwing and repeat-sprint performance in cricket players". British journal of sports medicine 41 (7): 409–14; discussion 414. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2006.033753. PMID 17341589.
- Doan (2003). "Evaluation of a lower-body compression garment". Journal of sports sciences 21 (8): 601–10. doi:10.1080/0264041031000101971. PMID 12875311.
- Kraemer, WJ; Bush, JA; Wickham, RB; Denegar, CR; Gómez, AL; Gotshalk, LA; Duncan, ND; Volek, JS et al. (2001). "Influence of compression therapy on symptoms following soft tissue injury from maximal eccentric exercise". The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy 31 (6): 282–90. PMID 11411623.
- Doan BK, Kwon YH, Newton RU, et al. (Aug 2003). "Evaluation of a lower-body compression garment". J Sports Sci 21 (8): 601–10. doi:10.1080/0264041031000101971. PMID 12875311.
- "Where have all the jockstraps gone?". Slate Magazine (2005-07-22).
- "Women's pregnancy compression shorts". 2011-05-31.