Compression garments are touted as the secret to increasing muscle power and optimizing athletic performance – science or hype?

Don a pair of compression tights and you won’t just look like a serious athlete, many believe that this ultra-tight gear will help boost your athleticism too. David Cox has been reviewing the research underpinning the compression clothing scene to find out if there’s any real science to back it up. Listen to what he has to say on the topic here:

This interview comes courtesy of Radio New Zealand.

Cox comes to the conclusion that while there are some benefits associated with compression gear, it’s unlikely to actually improve athletic performance during your workouts.

The real benefit of compression clothing comes from its ability to reduce muscle vibration, which is the micro trauma that occurs within your muscles during exercise and can potentially build up and lead to injury. He adds that the compression reduces the space available for swelling and helps improve the mechanisms of the lymphatic system, which basically brings fluid away from muscles so they can recover.

Put simply, compression clothing is most likely to assist recovery – so the next day your muscles may not be as sore as they might have been because you’ve had compression garments on.

And then there’s the placebo effect. Cox believes you cannot discount the fact that when people really think something is going to help them, it actually drives them to see results.

“Scientists suspect that any benefits felt when wearing compression clothing during exercise may be down to the placebo effect – the large hole left in the wallet from the purchase may leave the wearer willing it to make a difference.”

This content is published under licence and in partnership with Radio New Zealand, one of the world’s foremost public broadcasters. To learn more go to

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