Whether you've engaged in a hardcore weightlifting session, picked up your running shoes and headed out to the track, or simply spent a couple of hours at the gym - you probably know that sore muscles can be a common complaint for those with an active lifestyle. Importantly, it's worth noting that this soreness doesn't necessarily indicate that you're unfit or out of shape. In fact, some of the most seasoned athletes suffer from periods of muscle soreness and even injuries after workouts.
If you're working out for the first time in years, you're bound to experience some sore muscles for a few days afterward - even if you eat all the right foods, and it's important to recognize that muscular recovery forms an important part of any exercise regimen.
While there are many ways that you can reduce the discomfort that you feel, from being cautious about how far you choose to push your body, to ensure you wear your calf compression sleeve on aching legs after a run, it's worth noting that there is a connection between compression sleeves and muscle recovery, and here we're going to explore it further. Even Vogue agrees that compression sleeves are the way to go for workout and recovery boosts!
Speeding Up Muscular Recovery
By far, one of the best ways you can deal with sore muscles is to give your body the time and space it needs to heal naturally. Most of the time, typical workout strain will take a few days to abate, while more serious injuries will require additional time and may even need medical intervention.
When you suffer from a general workout strain, your muscles will not have suffered an injury - the problem will simply be caused by overexertion, such as standing on your feet for several hours, or walking too far. The reason that injured muscles take longer to recover, is that damaged fibers will have to rebuild and regrow - a process that is bound to take time.
Whether you're recovering from a general strain, or a muscle injury, various activities can assist muscular recovery, including everything from light exercise, to gentle stretching, and regular rest periods. Many experts suggest a combination of:
- Massage: Massage helps to promote muscle relaxation, reducing painful contractions, spasms, and soreness. In some cases, massage with the jets of a hot tub can be enough to promote faster healing and less discomfort.
- Cold Water Immersion: Some athletes suggest that cold water immersion, or icing the affected limbs can be helpful when increasing circulation and promoting faster healing - a process that uses some of the same concepts as your calf compression sleeve.
- Compression: Compression sleeves and muscle recovery have a very important connection. To some, simply wrapping the sore muscle with an elastic bandage may not seem like much, but the graduated pressure promotes blood flow, and limits muscle movement, allowing for reduced pain and faster healing.
How Your Calf Compression Sleeve Works (According to Science)
Growing bodies of research have begun to establish the connection between compression sleeves and muscle recovery, showing that the graduated pressure can help to speed up the rehabilitation period after noticeable muscle damage. For example, writers in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that their analysis of previous studies into the subject found that using compression sleeves promoted a moderately positive effect for athletes after they engaged in workouts which typically resulted in DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In other words, the use of a calf compression sleeve could help to lessen the severity and duration of DOMS.
For active runners, DOMS typically takes place after running on courses that include steep uphill or downhill sections - however it's worth noting that muscle pain can occur whenever you engage in exercise that is more challenging than you're typically used to. Two thirds of athletes wearing compression gear after workouts that are known to cause muscle damage have found that these sleeves help to lessen the severity of the pain. What's more, compression sleeves worn after tough workouts can also help to lessen the decreases in muscle power and strength that can occur as a result - meaning that you can return to your regular training routine more quickly.
Other reviews of research have been able to support the same conclusions - finding that compression gear is incredibly effective when it comes to muscular recovery. Although the reasons why compression gear is so useful in this manner have yet to be demonstrated on any empirical level, most researchers suggest that the external pressure from the gear helps to reduce the space available in which for swelling to occur, while promoting better blood flow for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to damaged muscles.
Remember Rest and Recovery
Importantly, although there's clearly something to be said for compression sleeves and muscle recovery, those attempting to avoid discomfort should take notice of other recovery tips too. For example, getting plenty of sleep and finding ways to rest your body can be some of the most effective ways to support self-treatment. What's more, active recovery (which involves light exercise during the recovery phase), can help to stimulate blood flow to the affected muscles, and therefore reduce muscle pain.
Most doctors and health experts agree that aside from compression therapy, patients recovering from muscle strains and injuries should focus on getting quality sleep and rest wherever possible. After all, sleep isn't just a great way to relax, it's also the action that gives your body the necessary downtime it needs to restore itself. As always, the ideal target to hit for sleep is around seven hours, although you might find that you need to up that period to nine hours if you're suffering from serious pain and discomfort. Though it might seem impossible to get all of that extra time in bed into your schedule, it's important to make temporary changes that allow you to get to bed earlier and speed up the recovery process.
Above all else, muscular recovery after an intense workout, training session, or even just an accidental injury is about looking after your body with everything from compression, to sleep, to a trip to the doctor when the situation deems it necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions about Compression Sleeves
Any innovative product is bound to lead to questions from interested consumers and even other brands. When it comes to compression sleeves, frequently asked questions range all the way from who can get the most out of top of the range compression clothing, to how often sleeves should be worn to allow for the best results.
Following, we'll address some of the compression sleeves frequently asked questions that we've addressed in the past as a manufacturer of top quality sports performance clothing and compression wear.
Who Benefits from Compression Sleeves?
Perhaps the most common question to be asked regarding compression sleeves, everyone wants to know whether the technology will work for them. The answer is pretty simple: compression sleeves work for everyone who stands or sits for long periods of time, from pregnant women to athletic individuals, to people who spend all day at their office desk. In other words, everyone benefits from compression sleeves.
While sedentary people benefit from graduated compression socks because they can promote better circulation in their legs, active people benefit from better performance and quicker recovery. While you might struggle with putting your compression sleeves on at first, you'll quickly find out just how much they can do for you, and your body.
Do I need to have a Medical Condition?
The fact that compression sleeves are often recommended as a helpful tool in recovering from illness and managing muscle or joint related injuries has led to some confusion over the years. In fact, some people believe that they need to have a medical condition in order to benefit. However, the truth is that anyone can benefit from compression sleeves, no matter what their concern may be.
Won't Tight Socks Work Just as Well?
These days, everyone wants to save cash. If you already have a pair of tight socks, then you might wonder if you can get the same benefits out of those as you would with a pair of professional compression sleeves. Unfortunately, as great as your socks might be, they're not designed to improve circulation and performance. In fact, your socks might perform in a way opposite to compression sleeves by actually restricting the flow of blood. Compression sleeves, on the other hand, offer gradual compression that decreases as it moves further up the leg, ensuring an accurate level of helpful compression.
How Will They Feel when I wear them?
When it comes to compression sleeves frequently asked questions, many people simply want to know what to expect. When you put on a compression sleeve, your leg should feel supported. While the material should feel tight around the muscle, the pressure shouldn't be painful or uncomfortable.
How Often Should I Wear, and Replace my Sleeves?
One of the great things about premium quality compression sleeves is that you can wear them every day. Just make sure that you wash your sleeve every time you use it. Machine washing the material in cold water will help to return the sleeve to its natural shape and maintain proper compression levels. Keep in mind that while machine washing is fine, the sleeves are intended to be air-dried.
Importantly, though your compression sleeve should be highly durable, it won't necessarily last forever. When the compression starts to reduce or the sleeve seems to break down, you might need to consider buying a new set.