Compression gear (such as the shorts pictured below) are offers by almost all sports apparel companies these days. Lets take a look at the claims: 1) increased power production and 2) increased recovery. I did a quick literature search and heres what I found:
Duffield (2007): tested 3 companies (Adidas, Skins, Under Armour) found no power increase. However, found decreased post-exercise ratings of muscle soreness.
Duffield (2008): tested compression garments on intermittent sprint performance. No improvements in performance were found. No improvements in recovery were found based on objective measures. However, there was a significant decreased in self-reported muscle soreness 24hr post exercise.
Scanlan et al (2008): this study looked at 1 hour time trial performances in well trained cyclists. Unlike the studies above, this one looked at an endurance based activity. Again, compression shorts showed no difference in performance, based on oxygen consumption and other objective physiological measures.
Duffield (2010): this study focused on recovery after high intensity sprinting and plyometric exercise. Long story short, the findings were similar to previous studies done by Duffield et al. The compression garments had minimal effect on recovery, though they may be a perceived benefit.
There are quite a few more studies on compression garments, but glancing through their abstracts, they all seem to report results similar to the ones above. So heres the take home message:
- -compression clothing will unlikely improve performance, in either power or endurance sports
- -they probably don’t help with recovery
- -they could, however, decrease your perception of muscle soreness after intense workouts