Compression Gear: Fit to Purpose

Performance-Boosting

Orca 1/2 Tights

Price £45
Contact orca.com

Reaching just above the knee, the Orca 1/2 Tights target the major muscle groups of the upper leg - particularly the quads and up through the glutes (backside) - and work hard to keep muscles both warm and well supported during exercise. As with other leg compression wear, they will also help to minimise vibrations through the muscles, which in turn can reduce fatigue and go some way towards protecting existing injuries. Flat seams throughout add to the comfort level, while UPF 50+ protects you from the sun's harmful rays. Runners of a modest disposition may chose to  wear these as a base layer beneath shorts, as the tight gusset leaves little to the imagination.

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Performance-Boosting

SKINS A400 Compression Tights

Price £72
Contact runnersworldstore.co.uk

The quality and substance behind the considerable style really shines through in the A400s. The graduated compression supports and oxygenates muscles from top to bottom, and the silky, soft fabric moves naturally with the flow of the run - it feels as though the tights are working in harmony with your body. For men there is relief in that the crotch area is contoured, serving up what the makers call 'better ball control'.  The material offers UV protection of UPF 50+ and has an antimicrobial treatment that should keep bacteria at bay. There's even a key pocket in the back, though given the tight fit, this feels a bit like having a key surgically implanted under your skin.

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Performance-Boosting

CW-X Ventilator Web Top

Price £85   
Contact cw-x.com

This long-sleeve top delivers unparalleled support through the upper and lower back, drawing you up into a more efficient posture and helping to eliminate slouch. The 'kinesiology-taping technology' - elasticated adhesive taping that has become popular in recent years, here applied to the outside of the top - helps concentrate the rise and fall of the chest for improved breathing technique. Ventilation panels run the full length of the side from just below the armpit, and while black is rarely the sensible choice of colour for a sunny run, this top does incorporate sun protection of UPF 50, which claims to block 98 per cent of harmful UV rays. 

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Performance-Boosting

Nike Pro-Combat Hypercool Compression Shirt

Price £32  
Contact store.nike.com

Adding a welcome splash of colour to the usually monochrome world of compression gear, the Nike Pro-Combat is an exceptionally comfortable top. Despite there being little in the way of core and back support, there is more than enough figure-hugging squeeze to give focus to your breathing on the run. Although tops are really the least important piece of compression kit for runners, this stylish T-shirt also makes an excellent base layer for winter runs. The back ventilation means it's perfect for anyone who runs  with a hydration backpack. So, it's cool in both senses of the word.

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Recovery-Enhancing

2XU Compression Leggings

Price £40
Contact 2XUshop.co.uk

Although full compression tights can be used for recovery, post-race bloat and water retention can make compression around the midriff an uncomfortable experience. These 2XU Leggings - which are more like stockings - resolve the problem by ending at the top of the thigh and concentrating all the squeeze into the muscle groups that really need it. Like all good compression wear these are designed to improve circulation, helping to speed recovery time and recuperate battered muscles. Because they are made using a circular-knit technique, they are also seamless - which dramatically adds to their comfort.

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Recovery-Enhancing

2XU Recovery Socks

Price £25
Contact 2XUshop.co.uk

For simplicity and post-race comfort, these 2XUs are hard to beat. They feature the same graduated compression that you would expect to find in a race sock and so promote venous return to rid the body of toxins in addition to gently compressing aching muscles. Lightweight and silky, they are more akin to the kind of gentlemen's long sock you imagine Stephen Fry might wear. With antibacterial impregnation, you can relax knowing that nothing untoward is cultivating on your road-pummelled feet. 

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Best of Both Worlds

Compressport FORQUAD

Price £54
Contact estore.compressport.uk.com

Relatively speaking, Compressport is the new kid on the compression block - but    its Forquads certainly give the more established brands a run for their money. Ideal for runners who are prone to specific problems with their quads, these work effectively on runs to reduce muscle vibration, support existing injuries and encourage venous return. After hilly runs, where the shock-absorbing quads take a hammering, is when the Forquads come in to their own. The makers claim that a rinse in the shower provides a sufficient clean, so that's one less thing to launder. 

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Best of Both Worlds

Salomon Lab EXO IV Calf Long

Price £35
Contact salomon.com/uk

For race and recovery the EXO IVs offer a cost effective way of supporting the calf during a run or helping tired muscles to recover afterwards without the expense of investing in a full tight. The unusual dimpled texture feels as though it is actively massaging the lower leg during exercise and there is a distinct (and not unpleasant) sensation of having the calf lifted and cradled. The material wicks moisture away effectively and includes the to-be-expected 50+ UV sun protection in addition to an excess of reflectivity that will have you glowing like Tron on a night run. 

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Best of Both Worlds

Orca Killa Kompression Socks

Price £20
Contact orca.com

Although they're too toasty for year-round use, these Orca socks have plenty going for them, including the fact that they have the very best in padded protection right from toe and midfoot to above the ankle. The graduated compression up the lower leg helps oxygenate muscles during exercise to improve performance, and decent calf-squeeze makes them great for post-run rest, where the support will speed your recovery. As a bonus these also make the ideal flight sock, helping to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis. In short, wearing these is like having your foot cuddled.

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