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I've been running for some time now and every now and then some friend tells me about the benefits of compression apparel.

They say it prevents premature fatigue by smartly, well, compressing the muscles... They also say that they help your circulatory system by bettering the blood flows.

Now, while every major brand has its compression apparel line, some seem to perform better like BSC, Skins, X-bionic, etc.

Are there any drawbacks? Any side effects? And especially why aren't they allowed for cycling competitions (see this article)? Does this has something to do with compression garments being dangerous somehow?

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Welcome to Sports SE! Interesting question. However, I suggest asking, "Why aren't [compression apparel] allowed for cycling competitions?" separately...as it is a different question. See this for more information. –  edmastermind29 Mar 3 '13 at 5:16
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Also, do you have a source in which it is stated that compression apparel is not allowed for cycling competitions? Some of their apparel already look compressed to begin with... –  edmastermind29 Mar 3 '13 at 5:19
    
@edmastermind29 I edited the question and added one source. –  jrojasqu Mar 3 '13 at 8:52
    
Great! Thanks for the background info! –  edmastermind29 Mar 3 '13 at 18:12

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Livestrong has a great page that illustrates a lot of points and references medical studies to support it.

Some key points:

  • limits extra muscle motion, or "oscillation" ... [which] reduces the amount of energy you are expending

  • assist[s] the hamstrings in controlling leg movement at the end of the swing phase ... delay[s] muscle soreness by compressing the muscle tissue enough so that less damage occurs

  • reduces impact force to muscles by 27 percent

  • increases the amount of lactate retained in muscles and thus reduces the amount that is released into the blood

  • Compression from the shorts may protect against a venous thrombosis

  • Compression shorts may help cool the body by wicking sweat from the body and allowing it to disperse faster Take a look at the page for more details.

From a personal opinion standpoint, I find that the shorts also offer much needed support for the man-specific area. :) I can't say that I've ever experienced any negative side-effects from using compression gear. If the gear is too tight and worn for a prolonged period of time I'm sure it can cause damage, but that would fall under misuse and isn't really a side-effect of the compression material. I've worn compression sleeves for shin splints for an entire day/night and didn't see any negative impact.

As for why they are banned, I can only speculate. There is a difference between bike shorts and compression shorts, the most important being the padding (try biking 50+ miles without it, you'll understand). Because of the "scientifically proven" advantage that compression gear can give, they are probably banning it to keep the race as natural as possible, similar to bans on items in most sports.

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Please refrain from passing off others work as your own. See this for more info. –  edmastermind29 Apr 11 '13 at 1:36

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