Should you bother with compression wear?

I’m personally a big fan of compression wear and use it a lot in my training. However, it can be pretty pricey – so, is it worth it?

The idea behind compression wear is that compressing the muscles increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles, aiding performance and also recovery, shortening the time needed for warm-up and cool down. I have definitely noticed improvements in my performance and recovery when I wear compression leggings, although more on the recovery side than in performance I think.

Another personal bonus of wearing compression gear is that it is so tight it is (a) insanely flattering and (b) makes you feel like a ninja. I always feel so professional when I go out running in compression tights! Which in turn makes me feel more motivated. I know it sounds silly but I think that the way you feel when you’re wearing something definitely has an impact on your whole approach to training.

I’ve been testing out a couple of pairs for a while now – a pair of 2XU Elite MCS tights* and A200 long tights* from Skins (now on sale!) – and have been pretty impressed with both.

Skins A200

These are full length compression tights from Skins. I wear a size 10 and these are a small, and I’d say they were a good tight fit without being too tight or uncomfortable – definitely tight enough to get compression benefits! I find them really flattering and comfortable, although I do get a wee bit of ankle pudge after a while…(I am so beautiful). In an ideal world I’d go for a plain pair as I’m not too keen on the neon pink, but the pink is quite cute and subtle.

I appreciate that all my photos look like they’ve been in taken in a warehouse. It’s because they have.

I’ve worn these out running and out to the gym and they’ve been great in both situations. I really like the fact that they have a slightly higher waistband – low rise and tight is not a flattering or comfortable combination! Despite being skin tight they’re really stretchy and you still have a full range of movement.

They have a small pocket for keys/money/oyster on the inside of the waistband – pockets are good, but a larger back pocket would be better for running. That’s the only real improvement I can think of though – otherwise they’re great!

2XU Elite MCS 

The more expensive of the two, MCS stands for Muscle Containment Stamping – it’s basically special compression technology that is mapped to your muscles. This means that the compression is targeted to your muscles, increasing the compression effects and benefits. The tights have these targeted compression panels on the quads and on the calf – definitely the key areas that get hit when you’re running, so they’re perfect for runners!

This is the mapping on the inside of the leggings

I have these in a medium and I’d say they were a good fit for me, but I do have relatively thick legs. The ankle pudge is definitely less pronounced in these than in the A200s though, which is a bonus. However, they’re quite low rise and so can cause a wee bit of muffin top. I generally have to wear a loose fitting top and I can’t hang out in them for more than a few hours because they can quite uncomfortable. This is annoying, because I really notice the difference in my recovery (huge reduction in muscle soreness) in these, and I wish I could live in them after tough sessions!

Like the A200s, the 2XU tights have a small pocket on the inside waistband which will fit keys or card or cash, but not big enough for a phone. Again, a larger back pocket would be a huge improvement, but I’m not sure how feasible it is given the seam free super slick ninja design.

On balance, I think the 2XU nudges it for me, because I personally feel greater benefits from the mapped MCS technology. They’re pretty expensive, but worth the investment if you’re regularly doing hard sessions and need to recover quickly. However, I personally haven’t seen a huge improvement in my performance in either pair, so if you’re looking for performance benefits I’d probably save your pennies.

What do you think of compression gear? Worth the money, or all hype?