What's The Scoop On Compression Clothing?

11:41 AM

Everyone is making compression gear these days. What's the big deal with compression garments and how does it affect your dancing?

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Compression gear is mostly a fad. Unfortunately, there is little that it bdoes to actually increase your performance, at least during the process. Some experts say it helps oxygenate the muscles, and others that say it helps the muscles work together better, but there is no real data to back that up. In fact, there was recently a study done on endurance runners that showed that compression gear had no effect on their athletic performance at all.

It does, however, speed up the recovery process, and keep soreness at bay. This is ideal for dancers who are spending more than 2 hours in the studio. Personally, I start with my leather Bloch shoes and switch to my Shocks when my feet start cramping up. I also wear them after a long day of teaching when my feet are tired!

For dancers, compression gear is ideal, since our hours are longer and more stamina-based than other sports. Any dancer working more than 3 hours in the studio should have compression gear of some kind to help keep soreness, cramping, or injury at bay, particularly if they have a tendency towards tendonitis, arthritis, or extreme soreness the next day.

The other benefit is shock absorption, says Dr. Reed Ferber, who has a Ph.D. in biomechanics. He talks about how the body "jiggles" when it moves. Lots of stuff is responding to your movement, and when you hit the ground, the shock has to go somewhere, particularly if the ground isn't springy. (Lucky for most of us dancers, we usually dance on sprung floors). If the ground doesn't absorb your shock, your body has to. Compression socks or pants help hold everything together so you're less likely to end up with an injury related to things moving around too much.

All this is to say... dancers, compression gear is great if you're doing long hours and are prone to injury. But don't think it's some miracle item that is going to make you a better, stronger dancer.

With that in mind, here are a few of my personal favorite compression items to help make those long hours bearable.

#1 - Zarely Compression Tights.  These tights are called the Z3- Recovery Tights. They have just a little compression specifically around the ankles and knee joints. I find they help my knees and hips after 2-3 hours of dancing!

They're also great if you have a class, a break, and another class. Or after recital.

#2 - Apolla Shocks. These are kind of my level-2 of compression. They're much tighter than the Z3's and are ideal for 3 or more hours, and for recovery after a long day. I like the Level 3 for dancing and the Level 2 for recovery. I haven't tried the leg warmers yet but I suspect I'll love them!

#3 - Compression Warmers. I'll wear these if I don't have my shocks or tights, and need a little extra support.

#4 - Compression Leggings. These are my go to if I have a full day in the studio, or I've done a full day and don't have a chance to stretch after class. (Saturdays particularly, as I go from the studio straight home and do housework!) I'll put them on after class so I'm not too sore the next day, or so I don't hurt myself walking upstairs...

Plus they come in a bunch of awesome patterns :)

Stay healthy, and happy dancing!

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