I recently saw a question here about using compression clothing while exercising. I do not have any compression clothing. But if it they are a valid exercise tool to enhance a workout I would like to know so I can consider buying one or not. And if it is just hype then I would like to know so I do not waste time thinking about it.

What are the pros and cons of using compression garments while exercising? And if one is used on the belly should exercises like crunches be avoided?

  • There was one study (I'd have to find the reference, I think I posted it in another compression clothing question) that proved greater vascularization and strength gain with high compression (140 mmHG +) on the calf, but most commercially available compression clothing will be in the 10-30 mmHg range. There have been no performance benefits noted with compression clothing, there have been some recovery benefits noted. As parker notes, during performance it's more comfort, which could possibly in turn contribute to performance, but in a very very minor way.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 21:43
  • Im in my sixties, my trainer is tough. I wore compression tights today and never felt better after a workout. I think I will wear them to help guard against muscle strains. Even if it offers just a little more support, its worth it to me if i can avoid injuries.
    – user13618
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 22:04

7 Answers 7


Typical compression clothing, in my experience, won't give you much direct performance benefit (running faster, lifting heavier etc).

The reason I wear compression shirts/shorts are mainly for comfort and temperature control. If it's really cold out, compression heat clothes can help you stay warm and limber. And if it's really hot, long-sleeve compression cold gear actually helps your sweat evaporate, cooling you off (remember to drink a lot of water in this case).

Also, compression shorts are nice and tight, meaning they won't ride up and cause chafing on runs or long bike rides.

It also just kind of feels cool to wear them, you feel a bit like a pro athlete wearing super cool gear :)

Basically, unless you're going to be playing in extreme weather, or if you have some underwear problems, I would say compression clothes are unnecessary.

  • I wear compression cold clothing a lot when I run to lap off my sweat and help me stay cool. And they are nice and comfortable with no chafing. Wearing boxers to run can cause some discomfort for sure. Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 20:46
  • Since they are for comfort not efficiency. And since I have a disability that makes both running and biking nearly impossible; most of my exercise is in the comfort of my own home. I do go for long walks, but I do not think it is worth buying one to wear while walking outside.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 1:13

I believe that compression clothing does serve a purpose, especially over longer distances and more strenuous activities. Runners many times will wear compression calf covers or compression forearm covers. This can help to prevent swelling in the muscles, keep you cooler or warmer depending on the conditions and material, and also protects your skin from elements and environmental dangers.

The previous poster outlined some other benefits, such as keeping your manhood in place, feeling cool like an athlete, and the benefits of high tech sweat removal. These are all secondary to the true benefit which is the prevention of swelling. Talk to any serious distance runner- ultra marathoner would be a good place to start, and they can immediately describe the benefits that I've outlined to you.

As far as in your specific situation, unless you are turning into a more rigorous athlete, it doesn't sound like you should need these. The benefits, while meaningful, are very minor for most us


The noted recovery benefits are said to stem from the fact that the compression prevents an additional load on the muscles comming from vibrations and inertial movements, e.g. when a foot strikes the ground during a run.

Indeed, there's a feeling of a greater body coherence to it. Probably, it doesn't make this difference for less dynamic sports and work-outs, where those other noted reasons would prevail.

And performance-wise: in some weight-lifting competitions, compression suits were banned. Guess why.


I wear the shirts for my back, it basically gives you an extra layer of skin and huge support. Helps with posture. I know runners, football/basketball/soccer players wear compression shorts to help aviod tearing/pulling muscles around the groin. Other reasons are posted and im sure there are other reasons why...

  • 1
    Hi and welcome to the site! Can you explain your answers more thoroughly and provide a detailed explanation for it? Doing so would make this answer better and increase its value.
    – user241
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 2:14
  • I would be interested as well, I haven't seen any justifications for injury avoidance in otherwise healthy athletes.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 22:06

Personally, I wear them for a couple of reasons, and I think they are certainly worth the investment. One, I have very bad bulging veins due to multiple pregnancies. Wearing the compression leggings, it not only helps keep the blood flowing as it should, it eases the pain. They also seem to have help in my recovery time. Body temperature control is also helpful to get out the door when the temperatures drop. Also, as we age and if getting back into fitness is where you're at, you may not be as firm as you'd like and lets face it. No one wants to go work out, when it shows, that you need to work out. Unfortunately, this reason is out of vanity, but you look better in them. And when you look like you know what your doing, your mind thinks it can do anything! Good luck in your search.


Compression sportswear is worn by some athletes during exercise to prevent chafing and rashes, and post-exercise to ease muscle stiffness and quicken recovery time. Here are a few ways they help:

  • Helping relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness.
  • Reducing the time taken for muscles to repair themselves
  • When the right amount of compression is used (will vary depending on body area, typically in the range of 10 to 25 mmHg), improving venous return and oxygenation to working muscles.
  • The main benefits of compression sportswear is that it keeps the muscles warm to prevent muscle strain and fatigue, and wick sweat away from the body to prevent chafing and rashes. In addition, there is some evidence that compression shorts may enhance athletic performance. Compression sportswear also helps to keep undergarments in place, and for certain sports, like baseball and softball, come with padding at the hips to protect players from injuries due to sliding. There are many types of compression garments that serve a similar function, such as compression T-shirts, socks, sleeves, and tights. I can provide scientific.test examples if you really want them. But just tried to give you an overview.

Compression garments are not good for you! Restricting blood flow? God knows how much damage it does! It sometimes pushs it causing damage to other parts of the heart, brain etc! CAUTION on using these!

  • 4
    And you base this on.......?
    – rrirower
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 17:42
  • 1
    You talk as if "compression clothing" is the same as a tourniquet. If you feel this strongly about it, you shouldn't be wearing clothes at all.
    – Alec
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 20:46

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