Up until a few years ago compression garments were limited to the medical field, given to people with poor circulation and other related illnesses. Nowadays many sports brands provide compression tops, leggings and socks to help improve the performance of endurance athletes.

What is compression clothing?

Compression clothing is any garment that compresses the skin and muscles in a certain area of the body. Some of the top brands even ensure that the pressure is point specific so that the correct amount of pressure is applied to each area.

What does it do?

Compression garments help to limit the build-up of lactic acid which helps to improve athletes’ performance and endurance. They also provide the muscles with support, reducing muscle vibration, which helps to delay the onset of tiredness. They don’t only benefit athletes during performance though; they aid recovery too, by helping to improve circulation and reducing stiffness - known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after intense, long training sessions.

Looking after your compression garments

Compression garments aren’t inexpensive which is why it’s important to look after them properly. After several hours of wearing, especially in the case of compression garments for the elbows or knees, the materials will start to stretch out which means that the clothing is not as effective. In order to help to maintain the elastic properties of the garment and to remove the sweat, oils and dead skin cells that build up inside, it’s a good idea to wash any compression clothing after each use.

Machine or hand-wash?

Although regular washing won’t harm the garments as long as it’s done properly, it’s always worth having two sets so that each piece has time to relax and regain its shape before it’s worn again. Whether you hand wash or machine wash is completely up to you but should you choose to use a washing machine it’s a good idea to put your compression clothes into a mesh bag to reduce the chance of snagging. You should never put compression clothes on a hot wash; if you’re garments are dark then a cool wash is fine, if they’re light then opt for a warm wash. If you have the time to hand wash then you should use cool water when washing and rinsing. Avoid stretching the garments to try and get the dirt out because they won’t last as long as they should. You should also avoid wringing water from the garments after washing, instead roll your clothes in a towel and remove as much water as possible.

Detergent

Compression clothing is made using thin fibres that can be destroyed if you use strong detergent to clean them with. When choosing a detergent ensure that it’s mild and free from bleach, chlorine and softener.

Compression bandage