Compression clothing is a big part of some people’s recovery, so we decided to take a look at what is available. Here take a look at Full Leg warmers and 3d Thermo Ultralight shirt from Compressport. Compressport are a Swiss company that have a background in medical research and produced their first calf-sleeves back in 2008. They use the Salzmann group in Switzerland to measure and validate the compression on all their products. The Salzmann test apparatus is internationally recognised as the most accurate for measuring compression. So their kit should be much more than just fashion wear.
Given the constant travelling back and forth to races that I do, Compressport’s Full Legs made a lot of sense to me. After most races there is barely any time to cool down, or practice any kind of active recovery right after the event; much to my regret. On top of that, the associated travel doesn’t contribute to thorough recovery.
I used to wear compression socks, however with mixed results. I think there is some placebo effect in play with compression wear, which can have a positive effect. And if you truly believe in its recovery aid properties, then that will help with its effectiveness.
Compressport Full Legs
This Full Leg ‘sleeve’ combines support for the two key compression parts – calves and thighs – in one shot. According to Compressport it also optimises the knee position, making it useful for track/road/trail running as well as cycling.
Sitting in a car after a hard race and travelling for hours is no fun and doesn’t help with recovery. The Full Legs claim to enhance blood flow, increasing the blood return from feet to heart. If you can achieve that, you will significantly decrease the accumulation of toxins in the muscles; which happens after hard races and tough training.
So I did just that, and lo and behold it did feel that my legs profited from “improved oxygenation”. I was also astounded that while wearing them there was no sign of cramps. My goal to reduce fatigue had been achieved up to very reasonable point. When I got out of the car after a long journey my legs undoubtedly felt fresher. Just as if I’d got rid of all those accumulated toxins and lactate!
Now moisture management is also part of the fabric’s design. I thought I would have to adjust the aircon in the car to prevent any sweating, but the Full Legs kept this at bay and my body temperature stayed constant.
I didn’t use them while training and racing, but my team-mate did. She reported back that it served her as kind of injury prevention. According to her, they reduced her joint pains and gave her the peace of mind of not being exposed to so-called micro-injuries. How do they do this? The Full Legs are designed to reduce shock waves and vibration and use a rigid fabric to achieve this. I can confirm this as the fabric always felt a little stiff to me.
I have got accustomed to this compression so I started to use it in non-race/training environment too, like sitting at my desk for hours. I didn’t feel the urge to stand up every twenty minutes, which I normally do. Was this down to the Full Legs keeping the oxygen levels in my legs at a decent level?
I have yet to use them while racing, however I have used them while training on a couple of occasions. Even though they weren’t high intensity efforts, their claimed ability to hold the muscle firmly was undeniable for me. I find it hard to compare the Full Legs against other products as they all have their own unique feel. The only shortcoming I found was that they are very warm when worn above room temperature.
Compressport’s 3D Thermo Ultralight Shirt
I also had Compressport’s 3D Thermo Ultralight Shirt to try out in race and training conditions. This came in very handy in freezing wintry conditions, where it’s protection against the cold was tangible. I had my worries about its ability to move any sweat quick enough to keep my body at an ideal temperature. I did start to feel that it struggled after half an hour of racing. But that’s about normal, I haven’t found any base-layer that stayed totally dry under race conditions.
During ‘easier’ training sessions I had next to no issues with dampness. Quite the opposite in fact. Compressport use a 3D knitting structure, which creates ventilation channels and air pads. These take the form of varying thicknesses in the material. These variances create channels in the fabric, which don’t make contact with your skin. This allows air to move, helping to control your body temperature.
Another feature I was curious about was the Spin Control pressure pad, which is woven into the fabric. This claims to help keep you upright during long sessions on the bike. This came across as a certain ‘sturdiness’ when worn – like the Full Legs – which also seemed to help absorb shocks on the bike.
Wearing the 3D Thermo Ultralight Shirt has been a very comfortable experience, no doubt thanks to its seamless construction. That’s always a welcome feature as it minimises any friction or chafing. Washing instructions are strict, but I stuck to them and both items have worn well, despite frequent washing. It will be interesting to see how these products keep up long-term, whether they are able to retain their positive properties after prolonged use. Thus far, both are doing fine.
Compressport have produced a very light shirt, which I probably wouldn’t have worn during races otherwise. It is however very important to pay attention to the chest sizing. Get it wrong and you won’t be able to appreciate all the shirt’s qualities.
I found it difficult to compare the 3D Thermo Ultralight Shirt against other, similar products. Objective laboratory tests do back up Compressport’s claims, but I think there is a huge amount of belief and trust with compression wear. As I said previously the placebo effect can’t be ignored and placebos do work. But from my point of view both products worked and served me well.
Admittedly there were some limitations under race conditions, but I guess they aren’t meant specifically for races. During my numerous tests with compression wear I couldn’t find a product that ticked all my boxes. Saying that, the Compressport 3D Thermo Ultralight Shirt and Full Legs did their duty in a very satisfactory manner, for which I will happily endorse them.