Lately, compression clothing has become more and more popular - in the form of pants, knee-highs and socks. It is well-known that runners don't wear these just for fashion purposes, but what does compression clothing actually do? Here we will explain quickly for those of you asking yourselves that same question.
When we run, our leg muscles become strained, obviously. Oxygen in the muscles provides these with energy so we can carry on running. If our muscles don't get enough oxygen, i.e. during longer runs, lactic acid builds up and produces a burning sensation. You probably know that feeling, when you run for a long time and your thighs start to burn, you stop making headway and you feel more wobbly by the minute.
This is where compression clothing comes in to support you and encourage improved blood flow. Our blood runs through our lungs, takes in oxygen, delivers it to the muscles, picks up lactic acid along the way and takes it through our heart and then back to the lungs. Apart from delivering oxygen from our lungs, taking lactic acid away from the muscles is also a critical function of our blood - compression clothing helps with this. The clothes apply pressure to muscles that are farthest from the heart, such as the calves and thighs. Arteries react to this by widening and allowing more oxygen to be brought to the muscles. At the same time, veins also expand and allow more acidotic blood to be carried away.
In a nutshell, compression clothing helps you run longer distances and recover more quickly after exercising. However, the tight feel against the skin is unknown to most runners and some don't really like it. Why not try it out and see what you think of it? ;-)