During runs, sports and outdoor workouts, especially in the winter, you'll see lots of people wearing compression leggings and tights – both women and men. Compression gear has become one of the most popular activewear trends in recent years, with some high-end leggings reaching triple figure price points.
Leggings consistently rank highly in the categories of best workout clothes for men and best workout clothes for women. But why do people wear them? It turns out it's not just so people can feel like superheroes when they go for a run – there's concrete science behind compression gear.
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One study, published last year by Japan's Tohaku University, looked at how wearing compression gear and bandages during workout affects muscular recovery. The researchers found compression gear reduces the effects of fatigue on the muscle after training.
Ordinarily, your muscles take a few days to fully recover after an intense workout, and you're not able to achieve the same results until they are back to full strength. Doing this over and over again is what makes the muscle stronger, but the body requires time to heal itself. Wearing compression gear reduces this fatigue effect, helping your body to recover much faster.
This helps to reduce the risk of injuries caused by fatigue, as well as muscle recovery. The end result is wearing tights, or a compression top, allows you to train harder and recover faster. It's also handy to have an extra layer underneath our running shorts in winter, as it can get chilly out there.
Really good compression gear can also wick away sweat by absorbing it and pushing the moisture to the garment's outer layer, preventing chafing and bad smells. However, it's not a magic cure-all: compression bandages, tights and sleeves won't support joints like your knees or elbows, as some people claim they do.
The best workout leggings and compression vests are a great training tool to have in your arsenal. If you're just now getting fit for 2021, it's time to pick up a few pairs. Whether you're running in the cold or lifting in the gym, compression gear can improve your recovery.
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Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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