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People may choose to wear compression leggings during or after exercise to help with muscle support and recovery.
In this article, we look at whether wearing compression leggings is beneficial for health and performance and explain the key features to consider when purchasing them. We also provide details on some of the compression leggings that are available to buy.
Wearing compression leggings can bring several health benefits, but it may carry risks for certain people.
Compression leggings may provide a faster recovery when athletes wear them after intense, resistance-based exercise. Wearing compression leggings after exercising may help minimize exercise-induced muscle damage.
According to a 2018 article, compression sports clothing may help by:
- improving recovery by boosting oxygen supply to the muscles and aiding lactic acid removal from them
- supporting the hamstrings in sprinting and increasing leg extension and flexion, when the clothing covers the lower legs
- reducing exercise-related trauma, swelling, and muscle soreness
- improving performance due to a psychological effect
A 2013 review of 12 studies found that compression garments provided a moderate improvement in recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise.
Due to the tighter fit of compression leggings compared with regular leggings, they may also stay in place better during a workout or everyday activities.
As with other compression garments, compression leggings may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions.
The excess pressure that they place on the legs can feel uncomfortable and may cause numbness in the affected area.
Too much pressure, or pressure that is unevenly distributed, may even break the skin, according to one case report.
Therefore, people with thin or damaged skin may wish to consult a healthcare professional before wearing compression leggings. It is also advisable for people with conditions that affect vascular health to seek medical advice before using these items of clothing.
Key features to consider when choosing compression leggings include:
- Size: Compression leggings can have a tighter fit than regular leggings, so people may find that the leggings come up smaller than other clothes in the same size.
- Comfort: Although compression leggings can feel tighter than other leggings, they should still feel comfortable to wear. People may want to start by wearing leggings with a lower level of compression.
- Moisture wicking: Moisture-wicking fabrics can help draw sweat away from the body and are quick drying to help people stay as comfortable as possible when exercising.
- Breathability: Breathable fabrics may help the body better regulate temperature during exercise. Antibacterial fabrics may help control odor.
- Washability: Some leggings may be easier than others to wash and more likely to keep their appearance and shape after washing.
Below are five pairs of compression leggings that are available for people to purchase.
Most of the following product links are for women’s compression leggings. However, all of the companies below also offer versions for men.
Please note that the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
Endurance Generator Joint & Muscle Support Compression Tights by CW-X
According to the CW-X company website, these leggings target the hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles, as well as the hip and knee joints. The company state that they offer the following compression benefits:
- improved circulation and increased oxygen supply to reduce muscle fatigue
- muscle support and greater stability
- improved performance and reduced recovery time
- unrestricted range of motion
Other features include:
- different color options and five size options, from XS to XL
- extra support around the lower back and abdominal area
- breathable, moisture-wicking, stretchy material
- UV protection
- flat seams to minimize chafing
- an adjustable drawstring around the waist
- an internal pocket
Compression Run Tights 3.0 by CEP
CEP state on their website that their Compression Run Tights 3.0 offer the following benefits and features:
- increased circulation
- injury prevention
- improved performance
- compression panels around the thigh and calf muscles
- nylon and spandex brief to stop chafing
- machine washable
- 6-month durability guarantee
Compression Leggings by CompressionZ
According to the CompressionZ website, the company’s Compression Leggings have the following benefits and features:
- faster recovery after exercise due to an increase in oxygen supply to remove lactic acid
- improved circulation and blood flow, leading to more efficient muscle tissue warm-up
- supported muscles and better muscle efficiency for improved performance
- flexibility to maximize range of motion
- breathability and moisture wicking
- antibacterial and anti-itch fabric
- the leggings keep their shape after washing
- six size options
MCS Run Compression Tights by 2XU
The 2XU website mentions that the MCS Run Compression Tights have the following benefits and features:
- targeted support areas around the quad and calf muscles to reduce straining
- reduced impact on the knee joints
- front and back compression panels
- graduated compression
- reduced muscle soreness and muscle fatigue
- less muscle damage
- improved muscle alignment
- increased agility and recovery
- lower risk of injury from overuse
- flat seams to help prevent chafing
- antibacterial, breathable, and moisture-wicking fabric
- UV protection factor (UPF) of 50+
- eight size options
Recovery DNA Compression Tights by Evoshield
Evoshield have designed their Recovery DNA Compression Tights for people to wear after exercise rather than during it.
According to the company, the benefits include:
- improved muscle recovery
- fabric offers 360-degree stretch for movement and flexibility
- reduced soreness and recovery time due to increased blood flow and toxin removal
However, these leggings require hand washing and air drying.
If people are looking for compression clothing but want an alternative to leggings, they may wish to consider compression shorts, socks, or both.
Compression shorts apply pressure to the upper legs and may be a better option than compression leggings for people who get hot exercising.
People can wear compression socks with shorts or underneath looser fitting trousers to apply pressure to the lower legs.
Compression leggings may help improve recovery after exercise, and they might also help reduce muscle damage and soreness.
If people have an existing health condition, particularly a skin or circulatory condition, they should speak with a healthcare professional about whether they can safely wear compression leggings.