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The History of Compression Garments in Sports

Compression garments are becoming very popular, and used in all walks of life. As the post
‘Compression Garments: Who They’re For, What They Do & Why You Should Wear Them’ already
pointed out, compression garments can help reduce the build up of lactic acid and aid with muscle
recovery. They are therefore ideal for people who sit or stand for long periods of time, those who are pregnant or overweight, and people who suffer from tired or swollen legs and have circulation problems. Compression garments have been around since the 1950s and as the benefits became more widely known they began to be used by athletes from multiple disciplines. Athletes wear compression garments to help with recovery and improve their performance during a sporting event. And while they may seem like a recently developed sports technology, athletes have in fact been wearing this tight-fitting apparel for many years. This article will look at how sports embraced compression garments.

It all started with socks. Compression socks were invented in 1950 by Conrad Jobset, a German engineer who suffered from varicose veins. When worn, the socks create pressure on the muscles, bones, and connective tissues to help prevent edema and deep vein thrombosis. Compression garments made their way into sports in the 1980s in order to help athletes recover. Compression socks were first used by runners to “increase oxygen delivery and blood flow, reduce the jarring, vibration and stress to the muscles, and prevent soft tissue damage such as shin splints.” This allowed them to run for longer and recover much faster.

As the use of compression socks grew more popular, sports apparel brands began making other types of compression wear. Socks gave way to calf and leg sleeves, which in turn gave way to form-fitting shorts and shirts. In the early 2000s, NBA superstar Allen Iverson started wearing a cut off arm sleeve to protect his bursitis-stricken right elbow. Aside from helping with his injury, the sleeve was also found to help with his shooting skills by providing extra support. Today, compression arm sleeves are now combined with sports tracking technology to “[give] instant feedback, with sensors that measure the arc, angle and momentum of every shot.”

Another sport that also has a strong connection with compression garments is soccer. Before 2014,
soccer shirts were known for being baggy. This all changed five years ago. As soccer kits started to evolve, the Italian national team were the first to showcase some groundbreaking tech during the 2014 World Cup to feature “a special tape that micro-massaged player’s muscles as they wore it.” The reason for this was to activate the muscles and help with recovery while on the pitch. Sports scientist Suze Kundu describes how panels in the fabric of soccer shirts can “activate certain muscles via compression”. This provides extra support for the players and helps minimize the chances of injury.” Currently, most soccer teams use compression fabric to help elevate the performance of their players. They also have a tactical advantage in that they are much harder for opposing players to hold onto. This is another reason why you no longer see baggy soccer shirts being worn.

Nearly two decades later, the partnership between compression garments and sports is as strong as ever, and continues to grow. Athletes in all disciplines can be seen wearing this form-fitting apparel. In response, here at Lunatik Athletiks we working hard to continually make better, more advanced compression wear to cater to the different needs of our athletes.

Exclusively written for LunatikAthletiks.Com
By: Lola Amber

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