A quick look through the various research findings on PubMed shows that the scientific community is still undecided on whether or not compression wear improves your athletic performance, with vague, yet more favorable attitudes towards recovery. With this lack of obvious scientific proof regarding the benefits of wearing compression clothing, it comes down to what each of us personally experience.
I have been testing a pair of SKINS RY400 Compression Long Tights that local cycling retailer Studio Velo gave me to try. SKINS recovery compression wear is designed to reduce tenderness and onset muscle soreness after exercise by supporting and delivering more oxygen to your resting muscles.
I found the compression tights extremely helpful after long rides, trail runs, or hikes where I would normally come home feeling like I have been hit by a truck. My tired leg muscles appreciated the extra support and the compression appeared to keep my left knee from swelling, something that almost always happens after a big day out. The following morning, my legs felt fresh and ready to tackle another day outdoors.
After these big days and even some not so big days, I would shower, then throw on my compression tights under my normal pants for a few hours while getting on with the rest of my day. At first, I was worried the tights were going to feel restrictive but they ended up actually feeling really good, almost as if someone was taking some weight off of my legs. SKINS even suggests you might wear them all night if you had a particularly hard day and need to be fully on your game the next morning.
SKINS threw a ton of work into creating a unique sizing system that for women, takes into account not only your height and weight, but also your body shape. I assumed I would be a size medium or even large, but after consulting the size guide on the box, I was clearly a SKINS small. If you try them on first, the compression tights are supposed to fit very snugly, but not to the point where your feet go numb.
Bottom Line: As with most things, if it works for you, then it works. Placebo effect or not, I personally felt my muscles were less sore and tired from wearing my SKINS RY400 recovery compression tights after a hard workout.
Since I am not a professional athlete, the actual versus perceived benefits to my future performance does not really matter. What matters most to me is making sure I feel great enough to continue doing the things I love to do outdoors. I can even see wearing these compression tights on a long flight to reduce the chance of DVT.
The men's and women's SKINS RY400 Compression Long Tights retail for $140.