What is compression kit and how does it work?
Compression kit is designed to help you run further and recover faster. The more waste-ridden blood that is pumped out of your legs, and the more nutrient-rich blood you can pump in, the less lactic acid will build up and the better you’ll run. Compression kit is designed to improve this process, helping push blood out of your legs, where it tends to pool after you finish a run.
Whilst the research supporting the use of compression kit whilst running is still a little ambiguous, it’s recovery benefits are well documented in recent studies. One study published in the Journal of Stength and Conditioning Research found that wearing compression socks for 48 hours following a marathon did indeed speed recovery, and improved running performance two weeks later. That said, with or without the scientific benefits, many runners simply like how compression kit feels – almost like a hug for your legs as you run.
Related: The science behind compression kit
What to look for when buying compression kit:
There’s a number of different options out there for you, which can be broken down pretty simply:
Tights: Compression tights offer support around the ankles, knees and quads, and are also designed to reduce muscle vibration as you run.
Calf sleeves: For when the weather is too warm for tights, calf sleeves are designed to help reduce muscle tightness while running and help the muscles recover after a long run.
Socks: Providing pressure from the ankle to the calf, promoting blood flow and helping to reduce muscle oscillation.
Tops: Compression tops aim to help runners open their chest area, allowing you to take in more oxygen.
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1. 2XU Elite MCS Compression Running Tights
These compression tights feature what 2XU coins muscle containment stamping (MCS), or targeted compression panels which sit on key muscle groups, including the quads, hamstrings and calves to reduce muscle damage by limiting vibration. The tights feature a drawstring waistband for an adjustable fit, flatlock seams to reduce chafe, UFF50+ sun protection and are made from wicking material, designed to keep you dry.
2. 2XU Women’s Hyoptik Compression Sock
Made from enhanced compression fabric to support the shin, calf, ankles, achilles and arch, the socks graduated fit promotes circulation for faster recovery. The high filament material helps wick sweat from the skin, and with antibacterial impregnation, you can relax knowing that nothing untoward is cultivating on your road-pummelled feet.
3. CEP Recovery Pro Tights
According to CEP, you’ll notice the recovery effects after just two hours with the Recovery Pro Tights. An all-over design, with an open foot section designed to improve the circulation in your legs. The tights have been designed to be thin enough to be worn under your everyday clothes, and thanks to the air-permeable fabric, you’ll be able to recover on the go, without getting sweaty in the office.
4. CEP Women’s Compression Run Socks
Breaking the often rather monochrome zone of compression clothing, these compression socks add support to your arch and ankle and the padded foot section is close fitting, helping to reduce blisters. You’ll get good compression, and hopefully less odour, thanks to the inbuilt antibacterial treatment.
5. Runderwear Compression Socks
With heel and toe support for added grip, Runderwear have used Carbon fibre in the foot, and moisture wicking fabric to help keep feet and legs dry. Designed in the lab, the graduated compression encourages blood flow upwards.
6. CEP Men’s Progressive Calf Sleeves 2.0
With a top band to help keep them in place, the CEP Men’s Progressive Calf Sleeves are designed to reduce vibration and help legs recover faster. The sleeves are made from a quick-drying, breathable fabric to keep you comfortable as you run, and have odour reducing silver ions, to help you avoid that post-run smell.
7. Saloman S-Lab Exo Compression Long Calf Supports
For race and recovery the Saloman Exo calf supports 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 on a night run.
8. Skins A400 Compression Long Tights
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.