Compression Shorts: Not Just For Sprinters?
For quite some time, I’ve been a strong disciple of compression socks during long runs and races. I own several pairs, and I’ve found that they cut down on the soreness in my legs late in a run/race, and they shorten my recovery time afterwards as well. This has allowed me to transition more easily into training for ultra-marathons, which require back-to-back long training runs. I have not, however, given much thought to the use of compression shorts. I’m not entirely sure why the idea of trying them hadn’t crossed my mind sooner, considering I’ve wanted to try a pair of compression tights for winter running for quite some time. Alas, I haven’t been able to justify the cost to myself, nor have I had the disposable income to make it feasible anyway! However, when one of my favorite discount flash-sale websites for outdoor clothing and gear, The Clymb, offered me a pair of Saucony AmpPro2 compression training shorts at a steep discount, I decided to pull the trigger.
The Saucony website speaks pretty highly of them, but that is to be expected. The official information claims that the shorts increase oxygenated blood flood as much as 32% over other compression gear. They are also supposedly able to reduce muscle vibration and increase blood flow to your legs (as are all compression products). I’m not sure why I was more skeptical of these shorts than I was when I purchased my first pair of compression socks, which I embraced almost immediately. Now, compression gear is not new by any means. The concept has been around in the medical community for over 50 years, used to treat issues such as diabetes and edema.
The research seems to be quite mixed on the matter, with some studies indicating advantages, while others questioning the claims made by the producers. For the most part, the jury still seems to be out on whether or not they offer any real added advantage your distance running. However, with the anecdotal evidence I had from my socks, I was quite hopeful. I’ve been on several runs with them now, and I’ve been pleased overall. I initially compared them to tri shorts (minus the chamois) but they ended up fitting much better. The extra compression ensured that they did not slip around on my thighs, which I was nervous about initially. They also lack any sort of gripping addition around the thighs, which I liked since most bike short irritate me there to some degree. They did an excellent job of wicking away moisture to the point where I didn’t notice any additional heat, as I had expected. The “strength” of the compression did not seem to be as tight as I had experienced with my socks, but I could certainly still notice the difference. As I noticed during my running, however, they didn’t necessarily keep my leg muscles in place any more than a normal pair of shorts. I didn’t notice a huge difference in recovery either, but my legs tend to have a fairly quick recovery time anyway, so I wasn’t expecting much of a change.
Final Verdict: They are a solid pair of running shorts with a much different fit but still very comfortable. They offered much more support, without being overly restrictive. The jury is still out on the value of compression on my legs as a whole, however. These shorts retail for around $90.00, which I don’t think I would ever pay for a pair of running shorts, but for $20.00, they were certainly worth a try!
Have other folks experimented with compression gear? Do you have an recommendations?