Compression tights significantly reduce muscle vibration which, according to conventional wisdom, helps reduce fatigue while running. However, new tests out of the lab show wearing them do not translate into improved performance at all. According to the researchers involved in the study, all you really get when wearing them is a psychological boost.

Many runners sincerely believe that wearing compression tights helps them run faster for longer. However, a new study just published by Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center has found that not to be the case. Although they do greatly reduce muscle vibration, the research shows that compression tights don’t actually reduce muscle fatigue when compared to running without them. So there you go; it’s been you all along, not your pants.

“When your muscle vibrates, it induces a contraction that uses energy, so the theory was that less muscle vibration would translate to less fatigue,” explains Ajit Chaudhari, PhD, the man who led the study. “However, we found the reduced vibration was not associated with any reduction in fatigue at all. In the study, runners performed the same with and without compression tights.”

Separating fiction from fact
Here’s how Chaudhari and his team came up with their findings: Study participants were put on a treadmill, then ran for 30 minutes at 80 percent of their maximum speed on two different occasions – once wearing compression tights, then once without them. Motion capture technology tracked the runners’ body positions to within a fraction of a millimetre during both sessions. Participants’ leg strength and jump height were tested before and after each run, too.

“We also have a specialised treadmill with force sensors embedded in it that measures how hard a runner’s foot is landing, how they’re able to push off and how that changes over time,” Chaudhari elaborates. “The runners also wore a heart rate monitor so we could measure their exertion levels throughout the run.”

Although their results showed that compression tights didn’t reduce fatigue, Chaudhari does concede there may be other benefits. He also thinks that if runners feel better while wearing compression tights, then that’s a good enough reason for them to continue doing so. “There is nothing in this study that shows that it is bad to wear compression tights,” he points out. “Every little bit of perception counts when running long distances, and they may be benefiting runners in ways that we aren’t able to measure.” – (c) 2017 NavWorld

Source: Ohio State University

About The Author

Sean Woods

Originally a photographer for the Star newspaper in the bad old days, Sean Woods turned to writing after the first democratic elections in '94. The career shift paid serious dividends, culminating in him becoming associate editor for Popular Mechanics magazine with a number of technology writing awards under his belt. His interests include anything to do with boats, motorcycles and all those fancy tech gadgets that help the modern world go around.

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