Over the last 5-7 years, there has been a lot of discussion about graduated compression and its impact on athletes and in particular, endurance runners. Many aspects of compression have been discussed throughout the running and sporting industries, but there is one big question that everyone is asking…
That big question is: Does graduated compression improve athletic performance?
Our answer is: Yes, we believe that when you take into account the pre-race, during race, and post-race scientific benefits as well as the mental benefits of wearing graduated compression, it will become as clear to you, as it is to LEGEND®, that graduated compression does indeed help improve athletic performance!
At LEGEND® Compression Wear we approach this question from the perspective of an athlete focused on achieving peak performance. Whether you are a marathon runner, basketball player, tennis player or an athlete of any other sport, achieving peak performance at the right time and the right place doesn’t just happen, it requires thoughtful preparation and planning. Peak performing athletes must consider how and when to train, when and where to compete, and when to rest. In the middle of these decisions is a key variable that can often dictate what the athlete’s strategy looks like. That variable is the health of the athlete, both physical and mental. This variable is often a determining factor for whether an athlete is able to perform at his/her best when and where they need to.
Think about NFL and NBA teams that struggle in playoff situations not because their skill and team chemistry isn’t there, but because they are injury plagued, their bodies have deteriorated and they are simply not physically capable of playing at their highest level. From a mental perspective, think about a pro golfer who switches equipment and isn’t able to perform at his/her best because they aren’t confident in how well their new clubs fit them. Our belief is that at the core of peak performance is the variable of the athlete’s physical and mental health. It is with both the physical and mental health in mind that we believe graduated compression will indeed help improve your athletic performance.
Physical Health Perspective:
High level athletes often end up stagnant and sitting, usually due to travel, shortly before (and after) their race or game, which makes them subject to the blood pooling, swelling and soreness. When an athlete’s legs become lethargic and sore, their chance for peak performance decreases. Graduated compression drives improved blood flow and circulation that helps prevent blood pooling in the lower leg and foot area, which contributes to leg and foot soreness. For years, graduated compression is a technology that has been used in the medical industry to alleviate tired achy feet and other more serious venous insufficiencies such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins and edema. It is scientifically proven to help those conditions and we believe those benefits translate over to the pre-event athlete preparation. By properly taking care of your legs, an athlete’s probability for peak performance increases.
During the event/training exercise:
LEGEND® believes that the science behind graduated compression technology does indeed help optimize performance and endurance during exercise. While the research is somewhat varied regarding improved performance, it has been shown that graduated compression can improve blood circulation and lactate removal during exercise. Science would say, and we believe that this faster lactate removal can improve the athlete’s chance to perform at his/her best. We also know that through muscle stabilization in the calf that athletes are less prone to muscle damage and injuries during exercise. Lastly, compression can stabilize your ankle and provide valuable arch support to produce greater stability for the athlete and help them perform their best.
Finally, in the athlete’s journey to achieving peak performance, is the post training and post event recovery routine. Graduated compression helps distribute lactate that has built up during hard exercise, which helps to decrease late onset muscle soreness that many marathon runners and other sport athletes experience. As we mentioned above, athletes often end up sitting or standing for long hours after they train or compete. Recovery compression, often featuring a higher compression level, helps increase blood flow/circulation to avoid tired and achy feet and legs that could otherwise keep them from their next training session or competition.
All together, the pre, during and post race benefits make LEGEND® confident to say that for athletes seeking their best chance for peak performance, graduated compression will only help!
Mental Health Perspective:
This leads us to the mental side of athletic performance. Earlier we alluded to the golfer’s performance struggle due to lack of confidence in equipment. This performance impact relates to all athletes’ equipment, including shoes, socks, sweatbands, shirts, shorts etc. When peak performance is the goal, athletes must demand that they have every competitive advantage possible. At LEGEND® we believe that athletes who use graduated compression gain not only a physical edge but a mental edge through the confidence that they are taking advantage of every technological advancement that is available to them. This mental aspect is a part of why we named our company LEGEND® Compression Wear, as we know how important mental strength is to athletes, and we want to remind them to … Be a LEGEND each time they wear our compression wear!
So if you are an athlete out there, in particular an endurance runner, make sure you consider the full equation when you determine if you are going to use graduated compression. We hope that now having read through the pre-race, during race, and post-race scientific benefits as well as the mental benefits of wearing graduated compression, it is as clear to you, as it is to LEGEND®, that graduated compression does indeed help improve athletic performance!