Compression fashion is in top gear these days. I walked along Montreal's historical Lachine Canal and saw a whole spectrum of spandex-wear ranging from ankle-low to thigh-high, sported by men and women of all shapes and sizes. The sun shined, I was sweating profusely, and couldn't help but think about the friction experienced by these brave joggers.
There must've been a real reason these people willingly compressed themselves into a pair of pants or shorts, especially the men. I know competitive swimmers wear full-body shark skin suits to shave milliseconds off their time and that powerlifters overload their bench press with an upper body shirt sometimes, but the thought of small dull leg motions squeezed in a skin suit under the summer sun seemed like an awful time.
Compression tights do not help runners go farther and faster, as it turns out. A study from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center presented earlier in June confirmed that there were no differences in muscle fatigue whether you wore the gear or not.
"We have a specialized treadmill with force sensors embedded in it that measures how hard a runner's foot is landing, how they're able to push off and how that changes over time " explains the study's lead researcher Ajit Chaudhari. (Science Daily)
Subjects ran for thirty minutes at eighty percent of their maximal speed with compression tights on the first day and none for the second. The runners did not increase endurance or reduce pressure on their joints by wearing the gear.
"There is nothing in this study that shows it's bad to wear compression tights," added Chaudhari. "Every little bit of perception counts when running long distances, so they may help runners in ways we aren't able to measure."
You have the right to wear what you want to feel good about yourself and enjoy being active, just make sure to do so for the right reasons.