How Do Compression Fabrics Work


If you are searching for a way to improve your circulation you may be interested in compression fabric. The material can be formed into various articles of clothing such as socks, shorts, tops, and tights, to name a few. The fabric is also available in segmented lengths of material such as arm sleeves.

Regarding athletics, compression fabric aids more specifically in muscle recovery. It works by aiding in the amount of blood flow to the muscles that are being exercised by increasing oxygen flow. The fabric also helps improve the return of blood being pumped back to the heart. Many also believe that compression fabric helps remove waste products after exercise to improve the muscle recovery process.

What is Compression Fabric?

Compression fabric is typically composed of varying amounts of Spandex (or elastane). The amount of pressure against human tissue is largely dependent on the size of the garment (sewn together using a knitting machine), its design, and the place you wear it on your body. Compression itself is obtained by the elongation force that’s exerted against both of the fibers and yarns as your body bends and moves. Certain positions also affect the fabric and its usefulness.

Materials blended with the Spandex can include polyester or nylon. These fabrics are ideal primarily because of their durability. They are also extremely lightweight and not very expensive. The amount of Spandex added to the material ranges from 8% to 25%. The material is seamless in design, held together by heat bonding, ultrasonic welds, and flatlock. With ultrasonic welding, the fabric is overlapped or butted together but it is still tight enough of a seam that it is considered nearly seamless.


Who Benefits From Compression Fabric?

Although athletes benefit the most from utilizing compression fabric, anyone can reap the rewards of wearing the material. There is no real age restriction. However certain areas of the body seem to benefit more from compression fabric than other sites. Compression shorts, for example, show a small improvement to blood flow and muscle recovery time versus knee-high compression socks where scientific studies show there was no change at all.

Individuals recovering from surgical procedures can also benefit from wearing compression fabric. The increased oxygen flow helps the body heal more quickly. Those suffering from ulcers can use the garments as well.

The Truth About Muscle Fatigue and Recovery Time

A large portion of the theory of compression fabric reducing muscle fatigue is scientifically backed by the numerous studies previously conducted in the past several decades that point to a clear connection between increased oxygen flow and an increase in circulation. This seems to dramatically increase muscle recovery time.

An increase in circulation also seems to correlate directly with lactate produced by the body. Lactate is a byproduct of muscle movement. When there is an increase in circulation, muscles in the body can repair themselves more quickly. This is highly useful to professional and recreational athletes.

Wearing compression fabric also delays the onset of muscle soreness. It is speculated that wearing the compression gear helps distribute synovial fluid more evenly throughout the body. The fluid assists in lubricating the joints, which prevent both soreness as well as swelling.

Compression Gear Really Does Work

The effectiveness of compression material does vary depending on the length of time it is worn. Studies seem to show an improvement in individuals that wear it for short durations, such as a thirty-minute workout versus an hour or two. Also, the material has the additional benefits of absorbing sweat and reducing chafing against your skin.

In short, does compression fabric work for everyone? No, but many reasons can contribute to why it isn’t working for you. It could be as simple as an improper fit, such as the garment is too loose and isn’t putting enough pressure up against your skin. Or maybe you are wearing the compression gear for workouts that are too long to reap the benefits of the fabric. Does it mean that you shouldn’t try it? Certainly not. Once you can troubleshoot what is keeping you from experiencing the many benefits of compression fabric, you can start seeing the results you’ve always wanted.