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Compression Wear: Everything You Need to Know

Compression wear is growing popular by the day, especially among athletes. Still, many people don’t know why basketball players wear those sleeve-like things on their arms or why marathon runners love those long weird socks.

Whether you're new to compression gear or just want to add to your knowledge of the subject, you're in the right place. Here are some of the things you need to know about compression clothing:

How Compression Gear Works

Typical uses of compression garments include reducing pain and soreness, speeding up recovery, reducing fatigue, and boosting energy during activity. They achieve that by:

  • Keeping muscles intact and decreasing injury-causing vibrations
  • Preventing the lactic acid buildup
  • Lowering perceived exertion
  • Improving running economy

Compression isn't just for the legs.

Compression socks have been around for so long. Some people believe they are the other name for compression gear. Those people couldn't be more wrong.

Compression wear includes the above-said sleeves and socks, leggings, shirts, etc. People wear various compression garments for different reasons.

Athletes wear them to reduce pain and fatigue in the arms and legs. Compression shirts are worn as an undergarment by people with gynecomastia and overweight individuals looking to contain their saggy belly muscles.

Sizing matters.

Your ordinary running socks can't be the same as your compression socks, at least from a size standpoint. Don't use your foot size to order compression socks online or shirt size to buy a compression shirt. The point of wearing compression gear is to press muscles and hold belly flesh and chest muscles intact. If the garment isn’t tight, it can't serve its purpose. If it's too tight, it can get in the way of blood circulation.

There's a difference between sports compression and medical compression.

Medical-grade compression gear has qualities that set it apart from sports compression garments. Medical-grade compression socks, for instance, provide gradually increasing pressure from the calf down to the ankles, while sports compression socks offer uniform pressure all along the foot. Medical garments are also prescribed by qualified physicians, while the wearer chooses sports gear.

That said, it's advisable to rely on expert advice when choosing compression garments for the best results.

Compression isn't a new concept.

You’ve probably heard of Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE). The self-care technique wasn’t founded the other day. It has been there for ages, and compression has been one of its key components.

While there may not be much information linking compression to better performance, pain alleviation, and injury reduction, at least you know it has stood the test of time in a world where everything is wrangled.


There are about a dozen uses of compression garments. What you choose may not work for you if you don't understand why you need the clothing in the first place. Seek the guidance of a doctor if you need compression socks, calf sleeves, or arm sleeves for medical reasons. For sports purposes, consult a physical therapist.

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