Compression gear promises runners and endurance athletes improved performance by simply wearing tight knee-high socks or running capris. They claim to improve blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, which will supposedly improve your performance and help you nab the top spot. But with some compression gear being sold at exorbitant prices, many begin to wonder whether this gear is worth the investment.

A recent study tried to deduce the effects of compression socks, involved a small group of athletes doing two workouts, one where they wore calf compression sleeves and one without. In both these activities, oxygen intake and running gaits were measured. Overall, it was found that there was no significant difference between the two workouts. Findings like this make one doubt the effectiveness (or lack of it) when it comes to compression gear.But, there have also been studies that showed the benefits of this type of gear.

One study, for example, found that those who wore compression socks 48 hours after an intense workout performed better at treadmill workouts than those who didn’t, while another found that 13 of 14 runners who completed a 10K race without wearing compression socks experienced lower leg DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) a day after the run, whereas only two of 14 runners who wore compression socks experienced lower-leg soreness. But by large many have found that compression gear doesn’t make runners any faster or found any difference in V02max or lactic-acid levels. An interesting revelation however, was a possible placebo effect: of the 16 runners tested, the two who told researchers that they believed compression gear helped their workouts actually did perform better when they wore the calf sleeves.

So, should you shell out the money for gear that may or may not work? If you truly believe in compression gear, there seems to be no harm in it, and you may just get a small performance boost from the placebo effect or actual physical benefit. Or you can use it as a recovery tool, as proven in most studies. At the end of the day, if it makes you feel better or boosts your confidence about your workout, that’s reason enough to sport your favorite compression gear with enthusiasm.

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