Compression clothing is everywhere right now. Having been popular with professional athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen for some time, it’s now regularly stocked in stores for us mere mortals to wear.
Some people swear compression clothing gives them a competitive edge and whilst the science on this is a little sketchy, there is some evidence that it aids in recovery. Others enjoy wearing compression clothing as fashion gym wear. So, is it OK to wear compression pants all day or should we take them off when we’re done exercising?
What are compression pants?
Compression pants are tight-fitting garments worn to support the lower body. Compression clothing is used in the medical field to relieve the symptoms of circulatory health issues and to reduce swelling. It’s also a popular piece of sportswear worn to improve performance during exercise to reduce muscle ache following an intense workout or as fashion gym wear.
Compression shorts are popular with runners and bodybuilders in particular.
Is it OK to Wear Compression Pants All Day?
Compression clothing is form-fitting and can be tight in places so should you be worried about wearing them throughout the day? Maybe. According to Men’s Health, compression shorts worn during exercise can lead to skin fungus developing in the groin area – yikes – and heartburn from ‘high riding shorts that push abs up and force up stomach contents.’ Men should also be aware that if your compression wear is raising the temperature of your junk then this can temporarily affect fertility. That being said, there’s no major cause for concern with wearing compression pants throughout the day but whilst most compression wear is moisture-wicking, the tightness combined with sweating may not make it the most comfortable thing to wear all the time.
What about wearing compression shorts to sleep?
Some runners sleep in compression leggings to aid recovery but we’d agree with Runners World that it seems an expensive form of sleepwear.
There’s a widespread belief that the power of compression clothing isn’t in anything the garments do for performance or recovery, but rather how they trick the mind into believing they’re helping. Compression clothing could very well be a placebo effect. This would explain why there’s so much anecdotal evidence that it works but only limited scientific evidence.
One study did find that compression garments targeting a specific area of the body did help with recovery by around 10%. There have been other studies, too, that seem to support some recovery potential in compression clothing. After a vigorous leg day, you could certainly try sleeping in compression shorts to see if it offers any benefit. Although, it’s worth remembering that compression shorts may only benefit the immediate area they’re pressing against; they won’t help if you’ve been lifting, for example.
Remember that a good night’s sleep is vital in a quick recovery. Sleeping in compression wear may be uncomfortable and too warm, and this may lead to disturbed sleep. Even people with circulation issues who are prescribed support stocking and tights will take them off at night.
Are compression shorts bad for your balls?
There’s some debate as to whether compression shorts are good or bad for men’s balls. One argument in favour is that they provide support during exercise which can make compression shorts a more comfortable option especially if you’re running or doing something at high intensity. But compression shorts can also raise the temperature of the balls which can temporarily reduce fertility levels. Usually, if you stop wearing compression shorts for a few months (or less if you don’t wear them regularly) you should be fine, but this isn’t ideal for everyone.
If you're worried about compression shorts being uncomfortable or unhealthy to wear, you can also try performance shorts which are suitable to be worn throughout the day and during exercise.
Do you wear compression shorts alone?
Some compression shorts are designed to be worn underneath clothing and others alone. You’ll also find a mixed response as to whether you should wear underwear with compression shorts; it’s worth trying with both to make sure you’re comfortable. Most people believe it’s a modesty issue more than anything else. If it feels good without, go without.
If you’re not planning on wearing anything underneath, it’s worth opting for a better-quality pair. Cheaper material may go sheer when you bend over or when you’re running and, without anything over the top, this could be embarrassing. Sometimes this can happen if you sweat heavily, too.
You do you, though. If you feel happy going out in compression shorts, then go for it. It boils down to personal choice.
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