I ride a bike. Outside if the weather is nice; in class at the gym if the weather is not so nice. When I bike I wear what are commonly called Compression Shorts. The other day I got to wondering about the science behind them and other compression garments. Are they doing more than holding in my cellulite while squeezing out my muffin top?
So here is what I learned through the magic of the internet:
Compression shorts can help a person avoid hamstring and groin injuries. Ouch. Sounds good to me. Although I really don’t think I am working hard enough to hurt myself there. Also compression garments supposedly increase blood flow which decreases the use of oxygen, possibly resulting in a lower aerobic energy cost. Hmm. Isn’t the whole purpose of my exercise to expend energy so I can burn calories? Now I do like the idea that the supportive shorts can, in theory, help with muscle fatigue. Lots of lactate gobbledygook online about this. And they may help cool the body by wicking sweat. But judging by how sweaty I get during cycling and how tired my legs become – I don’t think so.
Now here is what I think in my inexpert opinion:
Compression shorts are nice for cycling because they hold in the parts that would otherwise jiggle on the bike seat. And speaking of seats, my shorts are very padded because somehow my generous butt does not seem to provide enough cushion to prevent soreness in that delicate area. Padding tops my list for reasons to wear the shorts! Another advantage: they don’t ride up on the thighs or give me a wedgie while riding:) And I actually feel thinner since they work almost like a girdle. Which brings me back to the muffin top. Even at my thinnest, my belly got compressed right out the top of my bike shorts and looked even worse than it was! Ugh.
One thing I learned about compression shorts from my internet research and confirmed through personal experience – you go commando under them! Really. They are designed for that.
Bottom-line (no pun intended): For the average exerciser, wearing compression garments is a matter of personal taste and comfort. If you are an “above average” exerciser, you’ll have to figure out the benefits on your own:) I’m off to wiggle into my cellulite-masking black cycling shorts and hit the gym.