Compression Garments: Are They Worth It?

April 17, 2015 in Our News & Bulletins by Integrity Rehab

Whether it’s elite level athletes or recreationalists, compression garments are in style, but is the squeeze on your body worth the squeeze on your wallet?  The research says ‘probably yes.’  Graduated compression garments are tighter on the ends farther from your heart and looser on the ends closer to your heart.  In some athletic designs, they are tighter over specific muscle groups.  This design facilitates circulation in general.  It has been used in medical situations such as lower leg edema for years.  In athletic wear, the promise is that the garments will reduce fatigue and improve recovery.


The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has published a number of well-designed, placebo controlled studies conducted in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The general consensus is that quality, well-designed graduated compression garments work well.  Various studies have found results such as:

  • People asked to jump repeatedly showed less fatigue and averaged a higher jump, but the single highest jump did not increase.
  • People who biked 25 miles two days in a row were 1.2% faster the second day, compared to a group of riders with placebo garments
  • Rugby players who worked out two days in a row, ran nearly 2 miles 2% faster the second day.
  • Athletes who wear compression garments report feeling less sore
  • 8% greater distance covered in 45 minutes on a treadmill
  • Greater tissue oxygenation
  • Improvement of joint alignment, range of motion, and proprioception


If you’re not ready to spend the extra cash for quality compression garments, here’s a tip.  Ice or a cold bath also helps with recovery after intense exercise.


Sources: Kraemer W, Bush J, Bauer J, et al. Influence of compression garments on vertical jump performance in NCAA Division I volleyball players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 1996, 10(3): 180-183.


De Glanvile K, Hamlin M. Positive effect of lower body compression garments on subsequent 40-km cycling time trial performance. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2012, 26(2): 480-486.


Hamlin M, Mitchell C, Ward F, et al.Effect of compression garments on short-term recovery of repeated sprint and 3-km running performance in rugby union players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2012, 26(11): 2975-2982.


Kraemer W, Bush J, Triplett-McBride N, et al. Compression garments: influence on muscle fatigue. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 1998, 12(4): 211-215.


Burden R, Glaister M. The effects of ionized and nonionized compression garments on sprint and endurance cycling. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2012, 26(10): 2837-2843.


Sear J, Hoare T, Scanlan A, et al. The effects of whole-body compression garments on prolonged high-intensity intermittent exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2012, 24(7): 1901-1910.


Lovell D, Mason D, Delphinus E, McLellan C. Do compression garments enhance the active recovery process after high-intensity running? Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2011, 25(12): 3264-3268.


Compression Garments