Talkback: Dress to Compress: The Facts

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03/08/2011 at 11:09

Yo, fellow runners.

Fancy elite running gear won´t make you a better runner, but another gullible shopper that thinks spending huge amounts of money will catapult them somehow to high levels of perfomance.The only thing you need is already in you: a heart, two legs and the will to challenge yourself and constantly improve. Running is mostly about happiness and finding an expresion of freedom in the physical activity, not a means to enrich some already fat cats dressing in corporate suits.

El Abisinio

03/08/2011 at 11:24


A bit of an statement, I know.


03/08/2011 at 12:11
Ah bless you, I think you are spot on.
03/08/2011 at 12:17
if people want to wear posh gear, let 'em. Why should it bother anyone else?
03/08/2011 at 12:34
Never been bothered by that amigo. I just offer my (critical) view on something that RW takes for granted, which should not necessarily be written on stone.
Edited: 03/08/2011 at 12:36
04/08/2011 at 13:08
I agree with the whole thing of compression gear. People assume that compression gear will improve their times by certain amounts without any extra effort and this is part of the appeal - most of the benefits are probably placebo like. However, they could probably improve their times by more by simply training harder or smarter.Compression gear is nonsense and just another fad, which RW, with corporate committments and nothing else to write about take it upon themselves to cover monthly. Besides, as we have seen with the super-suits in swimming, elites have shunned performance enhancing apparel without sacrificing faster times (i.e. Ryan Lochte WR in FINA WC). It seems to me that compression gear is yet another expensive accessory aimed at the middle class runner with plenty of discretionary income, with a superiority complex.
04/08/2011 at 14:17

Silly question... has anyone actually done any proper studies to see if this stuff works?  Or is it just a vanity corset for your various body parts? 

I read this bit about compression tops:

Better breathing: Tops train the breathing by gently squeezing and supporting the chest with each inhalation. This encourages a more focused breathing style and can even reduce the risk of a painful stitch.

This seems counter-intuitive (i.e. bollocks) to me.  Surely in a free state, the chest expands the way it wants to in order to get oxygen into the lungs most effectively, so this is actually constricting that movement, isn't it?  How can your breathing be "more focused" than what you've learnt to do naturally, in a state (i.e. running hard) where getting as much oxygen into your lungs as possible is a priority?

Edited: 04/08/2011 at 14:18
04/08/2011 at 20:58
PhilPub wrote (see)

Silly question... has anyone actually done any proper studies to see if this stuff works?  Or is it just a vanity corset for your various body parts? 

Why don't you ask my friend Paula Radcliffe?

04/08/2011 at 23:04

Yeah. Let Paula and whoever wants to join this forum. It´s in fact open to every single man or woman that have felt the joy or running at any point in their lives. But I guess the underlying purpose of some of the RW articles is not always to promote the practice of sport, but to serve as a commercial channeling to some of the most powerful brands of running gear in the market. I mean, c´mon, I´ve read in dozen places that running is a very cheap sport, only needing a small investment in shoes and little more. Most likely it´s all a commercial scheming to create a need that we never had before. My friend Arnulfo Quimare would certainly agree.

Edited: 04/08/2011 at 23:13
10/08/2011 at 00:47
And now it turns out, according to some, that it's better to run barefoot so you don't even need the shoes!
10/08/2011 at 07:26

Lots of good stuff written here. My own unscientific experience is that some sort of knee-length socks AFTER a hard workout does help my calfs recover. But I'm very prone to DOMS ...delayed onset muscle soreness... in that part of the leg. Oh, and as I do triathlon, the tight-fitting tops help reduce my wind-resistance on the bike, especially into a headwind. But mainly, yes, another ploy for the companies to extract money. Good compression socks are available in cheapo supermarkets every now and then for a couple of pounds. And lycra tops are cheap. Train harder and enjoy our simple sport !

Richard, the old git from triathlon.

10/08/2011 at 08:31
Don't jump to conclusions! As a triathlete I've been following this debate for a while. I had very much been of the opinion given the absence of hard data that elite/professional triathletes compete in their sponsor's compression gear as a highly effective marketing strategy for their sponsors. On the other hand, good data has started coming through on the benefits of wearing compression gear (socks or tights) for recovery AFTER training. Since I am prone to very stiff calves after long runs that have left me almost hobbling for up to two days I thought I would splash out on an Aussie brand of calf guard that you can buy online in the UK for little over 20 quid. Many of my fellow triathletes were already both competing, training and recovering in them. And my experience is that they have made a huge difference. Not only for recovery, but if I now wear them for my 2 hour trail run I feel absolutely no stiffness in my calves afterwards. After a 1 hour run my legs feel completely fresh. Believe me, they make a big difference. And many others are reporting the same. And, as I say above, you don't need to spend much over 20 quid to reap the benefits of compression.
10/08/2011 at 09:14
As a triathlete I wear compression socks which have helped to reduce calf soreness, which I was plagued with prior wearing these socks (especially when i wear them post exercise too)
10/08/2011 at 10:25
Has anyone worn compression gloves???  Another gimmick
10/08/2011 at 10:33

My compression long pants are very good for training in the winter. Becuse thaty are tight and don't move too much they don't chafe at all. That makes them worth the money for me. I think having used them compression gear seems to work better for recovery than when actually running but they do make a very good quality base layer too.

10/08/2011 at 10:36
I do btw very much agree with the OP. How many people do you see with long pants on boiling hot days with vests on top and wooly hats on their heads. I always dress for the conditions first and worry about looking good last.
10/08/2011 at 11:46

If people want to wear compression gear to look 'professional' fine, let them get in with it. But, some of us have good reason to wear it. I personally wear compression tops because I have some issues with my back where the discs scrape the nerve in my spine, after a good warm up the compression top holds everything togther nicely and seems to prevent running pain. I seem to also get some relief from back pain post running too, as the natural gel betweens the discs seems to find it way back into place, so, I've found the compression tops really help here.

There are some scientificly proven advantages for using compression gear, specificially the long compression socks, they improve oxygen flow to the muscles during racing by up to 5%; in tests they have been said to prolong the effect of fatigue. Never used them myslef, but would not rule it out if I thought it could knock a minute of a 10k time! If a club runner was aiming for a PB, why should they be laughed at for trying to get every advantage they can get?

12/08/2011 at 08:15

There is a discussion about compression socks here:,7120,s6-240-320--13079-0,00.html

and I notice that Nike's are £9 in JJB but I am sure you can get them cheaper. 

But the article promised 'do they work'. The Tri-ers say yes but where is the research. Compression has for a long time been recommended for some injuries but I suspect this is more as movement control support I alway wear short lycra shorts in the gym

12/08/2011 at 09:49
I have only recently purchased some compression wear, (May 2011) both tights and top. I dont wear them every time I run but I do wear them on my long runs or races. I have been very pleased with the results though. Not in a reflection of times or my race performance but how they have helped my body to function and recover. I recently ran the Paddy Buckley route in North Wales where I was running for just under 23hours, during this time I wore the leggings the whole time and I believed they really helped with my leg recovery. No major DOM's occurred for me after that challenge; however when training for the event that had happened on several occassions where I was not wearing compression wear. I have suffered in the past from calf and hamstring issues and I have noticed I am getting less problems in these areas. It maybe that I am just getting fitter and perhaps I am attributing these to the compression gear unnecessarily. The wicking properties of the top make it excellent in hot or warm conditions (as does it UVA 50 rating). For the first 8 hours of my Snowdon Ultra it was 24-27 degrees C and the skin top was excellent for keeping me cool without feeling soaking wet with sweat. I also use the top for long runs (3hours plus) when I take a back pack as it reduces friction on my torso and since using it I have stopped getting a very sore lower back. I have not tried the gloves and probably will not as I never have any problems with my hands, I do however, know some other ultra runners who do suffer with their hands growing to twice their normal size due to blood not traveling away quick enough. They then find it very hard to move their finger joints to grab bottles, food etc so perhaps in such circumstances the gloves may be of use then. So I suppose in my personal view I do find compression gear useful, but as other people have stated it's choosing when to use it. I would say that 80% of my training is done without it and it probably would not benefit my training during those periods. For the other 20% though its my first choice of gear.
12/08/2011 at 20:11

I wouldn't say compression gear improves race times, but I do believe there is something in them aiding recovery during and from training.  Therefore reducing injury and allowing more training may see an improvement in race times.

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