If you enjoy watching sports, you might have noticed an athlete wearing a compression sleeve, perhaps on their arms, thighs, calves, or even the entire legs. If you are unaware of what they are or have never worn one before, then perhaps you might have wondered what they are for. Continue reading to find out!
What are Compression Sleeves?
Compression sleeves are stocking-type, elastic garments designed to apply compression onto particular areas of the body.
For the upper body, there are different types of compression shirts (i.e. sleeveless, sleeved, or long-sleeved) and arm compression sleeves (i.e. short or long).
For the lower part of the body, there are different types of compression shorts, compression tights, compression socks, and leg compression sleeves (thigh, calf, or whole leg). This article focuses on leg compression sleeves.
Leg compression sleeves are used to provide an ample amount of compression onto a part of the leg which needs support for better blood circulation and faster recovery from muscle soreness and fatigue.
What are the Benefits of Wearing Leg Compression Sleeves?
While compression clothing is mostly advertised for sports use, doctors also recommend them for those involved in strenuous work and for daily wear.
Research from the Department of Sport Science in the University of Wuppertal in Germany shows that wearing compression clothing helps an athlete’s performance and endurance; other significant benefits include strength and muscle recovery after training.
ResearchGate reports, from tests conducted by a collaboration from Sport and Health Science Departments of three UK educational institutions and one South African university, that compression garments are very much likely to reduce the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) as seen in 66% of the test population. Furthermore, 66-69% (from another group of tests) recovered their strength and power faster.
There are additional benefits such as:
- Improves blood circulation during rest (before and after a strenuous activity) and activities. This means more oxygen is supplied to the muscle tissues.
- Helps treat and alleviate the symptomatic pains and difficulties of varicose veins, edema, deep vein thrombosis, and other similar diseases occurring on the leg.
When can Leg Compression Sleeves be Worn?
Leg compression sleeves can support you in many activities; the following list are some activities which are ideal for wearing them:
1. For sports activities
As compression sleeves help boost endurance and performance, manage muscle pain and fatigue, and to heal and recover strength faster, they can be worn by basically anyone, such as an an amateur athlete, professional athlete, sports-enthusiast, exercise buff, or a plain fitness lover.
2. For recreational activities
Leg sleeves can also be worn during leisure walks, casual bicycle or motorcycle rides, long drives or trips on a plane, bus, or train, and light hikes or trekking.
3. For work and daily activities
While some professions and daily activities do not impose the same level of strenuous activity that most sports activities do, they can still put strain on the body. Consider wearing leg compression sleeves if your work…
- …Involves physical or manual labor, such as a farm worker, warehouse or factory worker, construction or field worker, cleaner, policeman, fireman, gardener or landscaper, or professional dancer.
A leg compression sleeve does not only help you be more productive but also helps deal with pain and fatigue following a day of physical work.
- …Keeps you seated for long hours, such as a driver (either of a bus, a taxi, or a train), a pilot, a clerk (desk job), or a student doing research or studies.
The risk of possible circulatory problems and muscle degeneration can be reduced by the compression that leg sleeves provide.
- …Requires long hours of standing, such as security personnel, a salesperson (in a department store), a store clerk, a bartender, a waiter, a nurse or a caregiver, a teacher or professor, or a hotel doorman.
Leg compression sleeves not only relieve the pain from standing too long but they also help you develop strength to endure standing for a long period of time.
Since wearing leg compression sleeves help with blood circulation, it is safe to assume then that wearing them on regular days (when no specific activity is planned) can help your general health.
4. For treating temporary medical conditions and chronic illnesses
Doctors commonly recommend leg compression sleeves to treat and manage pain felt in and illnesses affecting the legs, such as varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, chronic ankle and knee pains (common among the elderly and the injured), intolerable pressure on the legs (occurring among pregnant women and overweight people), and edema (fluid retention).
Which Leg Compression Sleeve is Best for You?
To know which leg compression sleeve is best for you to use, you need to determine two things: type and compression level.
1. Determine the type
The type of sleeve depends entirely on where you need the compression to be, therefore it is recommended to seek professional advice, especially if the sleeve is meant to treat a medical condition. The various types include:
- Calf sleeve,
- Thigh sleeve,
- Calf-to-knee sleeve,
- Knee-to-thigh sleeve, or
- Full leg sleeve.
2. Determine the compression level
The more severe the health issue in the legs are, the stronger the compression level will need to be. However, it is still recommended to seek professional advice beforehand. A relatively low compression level of between 8 mmHg to 20 mmHg can be used for daily use, sports activities, recreational activities, and work. Below is a general comparison between the compression levels available:
- Light compression sleeves are for healthy people who seek relief for mild muscle pain and fatigue.
- Moderate compression sleeves are for people who are at risk of developing medical problems like deep vein thrombosis or who are already dealing with minor leg swelling.
- High/firm compression, or medical grade, sleeves are used to treat people with varicose veins, fluid retention (edema), and other serious leg problems or illnesses.
It is important to note that light and moderate compression sleeves may vary in tightness depending on brand, material, and cut; hence, this should be put into consideration before purchasing a pair.
ComproGear provides a size guide here and a choice of plain or patterned knee-high 20-30 mmHG compression socks in different shades and colors.
Leg compression sleeves can be used for almost any activity and provide the support you need to maintain good leg health.
Visit ComproGear to see a variety of compression garments available and purchase your own pair today!