Compression tights: Muffin-top maker or healer of sore quads?

Posted: July 2, 2013 in Aging, Crossfit Food, Crossfit Lifestyle, Crossfit Masters Training
Tags: , , ,

If you ever wondered whether you REALLY have a muffin top, buy a pair of compression tights. You will never doubt again.

My coach, Matt, insisted I get compression tights. He said compression speeds muscle recovery and helps control inflammation. He told me to wear them for at least two hours a day and sleep in them. You gotta trust your coach and so I ordered a pair – $75 – and that’s 60% off the normal price.

After the muffin-top experiment I did some research on compression gear: Here are some excerpts from an article about compression gear.

Compression clothing — most often made of a blend of spandex and nylon and engineered to be stretchable while maintaining a specific structure — has been used in the medical field for years. 

My Skins RY400 recovery tights on a model without a muffin-top

My Skins RY400 recovery tights on a svelte model without a muffin-top

The garments apply mechanical pressure to the body, compressing and helping support underlying tissue. This increase in pressure can help improve circulation in patients with low blood pressure, treat varicose or spider veins, prevent leg and ankle swelling and even support wound healing. When used properly in these contexts, research suggests compression gear is actually very effective. Clinical compression garments have even been shown to improve functional movement in patients with disabilities such as arthritis or paralysis!

Compression clothing can enhance overall circulation, helping speed muscle recovery time post-exercise. Worn after exercise, that extra squeeze has also been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. And in one (less-than-comfortable-sounding) study, wearing a whole body compression suit for 24-hours following a workout showed enhanced recovery compared with a non-compressive control (in both men and women).

Inflammation is the enemy of older athletes – and older people in general. I’m not talking about the kind of inflammation you get when you take off your shoes during a long flight, fall asleep and then can’t put your shoes back on because your feel are so swollen. (This really happened to me on a flight to Paris and I had to walk through Charles de Gaulle airport in my socks.)

I’m talking about the chronic, low-grade inflammation we get as we age. You can’t see this kind of inflammation but it’s there. For me, I notice it when I wake up in morning. I’m stiff – not sore. After 20-30 minutes of stretching and moving around, I’m back to being my middle-aged, rubber-band self.

Here’s a sort of easy to understand discussion of inflammation in older athletes. (Just ignore all the words with more than three syllables).

Chronic low-grade systemic inflammation is a common manifestation of aging. Two to four-fold elevations in circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and acute phase proteins such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA), are typical in the elderly when compared to the young, even in the absence of chronic disease.

There are several potential mechanisms responsible for age-associated inflammation that have been examined. Moreover, strategies aimed at dampening inflammation in elderly subjects, including pharmacological therapies and lifestyle factors, have often produced equivocal results…

Many mechanisms likely contribute to age-related inflammation. As with all other physiological systems, there are significant declines in immune function with aging that promote inflammation, but the chronic low grade inflammatory state in the elderly also is clearly a consequence of age-related chronic diseases…

As people age, the prevalence of conditions associated with inflammation increase, such as obesity, physical inactivity, cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, making it difficult to decipher if these conditions are a cause or consequence of the excessive inflammation in the elderly…

The Fedex guy delivered my new compression tights on Saturday. Once I got them on, they were actually comfy. It helped that I live alone and don’t have to worry about anyone seeing my lower half hand-packed into spandex. Then I put on a big t-shirt and, voila!, my muffin top was nowhere to be seen.

Tomorrow morning should be the real test. My quads have taken a beating over the last couple of days. God, I hope these things work…

  1. […] Compression tights: Muffin-top maker or healer of sore quads? ( […]

    • hildyjonsn says:

      And I would just like to add, that after wearing these tights to bed for two weeks, they work. My coach has been giving me some pretty brutal leg programs recently and while I still get sore, it doesn’t last nearly as long with the tights.

  2. […] Compression tights: Muffin-top maker or healer of sore quads? […]

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