New Study Reveals That Compression Tights Don't Improve Running Performance

The Nike-funded study puts the muscle vibration theory to test.

Tech
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Compression tights don’t help runners go farther or faster, according to a new Nike-funded study from The Ohio State Universtiy Wexner Medical Center.

Some athletes have sworn that compression tights — on top of providing warmth and style — improve running performance by reducing muscle vibration, which in turn minimizes muscle fatigue and aids in recovery. Associate Professor Ajit Chaudhari, who lead the study, fleshed out the theory in more scientific terms: “When your muscle vibrates, it induces a contraction that uses energy, so the theory was that less muscle vibration would translate to less fatigue.”

To test this hypothesis, study participants ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes at 80 percent of their maximum speed on two different days — one day with compression tights and the other without.

Each runners’ leg strength and jump height were tested before and after each run. During the run, motion capture technology recorded participants’ stride and posture while heart rate monitors measured exertion.

The study proved that while compression tights do indeed reduce muscle vibration, “the reduced vibration was not associated with any reduction in fatigue at all,” concluded Chaudhari.

Though there is no scientific proof that compression tights help runners run faster and farther, Chaudhari implies that even if the help is psychological, it’s help nonetheless. “There is nothing in this study that shows it’s bad to wear compression tights. Every little bit of perception counts when running long distances, so they may help runners in ways we aren’t able to measure.”

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