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The Quickfire guide to compression clothing
Cycling clothing can be expensive so cyclists and others involved in serious exercise are often undecided about the advantages of cycling in compression clothing. There is only a small amount of research material available on the tests which have been carried out on the various compression garments on the market and by and large it all seems to come down to a matter of personal opinion. One thing that does seem certain though, is that keeping the garments on after the exercise has ended is rather more important than wearing it for the exercise itself. This is even more the case with cycling, which is non weight bearing (known as concentric). Compression clothing has been shown to have a small effect on recovery times during and after eccentric (weight bearing) exercise specifically.
Compression clothing of a quality which may do some good tends to be rather expensive and for this reason, apart from Lycra or Xpandx cycling shorts and cycling tights, is not worn routinely by most cyclists. Some people who have a problem with chafing, especially in cold weather, find that compression tights, shorts and leggings are very helpful but not so many people are so keen on tops as they can feel restrictive. The science behind the idea has more gravitas when considered re the leg muscles anyway as the reduction in lactic acid production is the main argument for the wearing of compression clothing.
Like many other aids to performance, compression clothing is a matter of personal choice. If as a cyclist you feel that wearing it makes a difference and you don’t have a problem with the cost, then it is certainly worthwhile. However, if you are the kind of person who likes to have a lot of scientific proof before following a trend, then you are unlikely to be splashing out on compression clothing anytime soon, because almost all of the evidence is anecdotal at best.
All cyclists know that it is important to keep warm when exercising, that warm ups and cool down time is essential and knowing your own body and its needs and limits is half the battle when it comes to keeping fit and not losing any days through muscle strain or chills. If wearing compression clothing whilst cycling enables you to exercise more effectively and you can afford it, then go right ahead – there is certainly plenty on the market to choose from.