Feeling the squeeze: the benefits of compression sportswear​

Compression leggings / Image source: The Sports Edit

Compression leggings / Image source: The Sports Edit

Feeling the squeeze: the benefits of compression sportswear

Many of us have a couple of outfits that we regularly wear to exercise and will rotate depending on the activity. Maybe you have a favourite top that stays in place during your downward dog or a pair of socks that gives you extra support on longer runs. And we don’t really consider how our clothing can help us achieve our fitness goals.

If you aren’t familiar with compression sport clothing, it’s time to learn about how these specialty design products may elevate our workouts.

Compression garments are skin-tight, yet flexible clothing made of supportive fabric like Spandex and Lycra. It is graded in its tightness to ease blood flow, it features wicking properties to reduce sweat pooling and keep you warm, whilst still allowing freedom of movement. Compression sportswear molds to your body to prevent the oscillation of the muscle during impact and increasing blood flow to the area. This is thought to prevent energy waste and assist in alignment. Additionally, the increase of blood flow ensures muscles are receiving a constant supply of oxygen, which helps sustain performance or enhance recovery.

Benefits of compression sportswear gear have been reported to include a reduction in muscle fatigue and soreness, faster recovery, reduction of swelling, improvement of blood flow, muscle strain prevention, skin protection, improved joint stabilization and muscle alignment, an increase in agility, and regulating body temperature.

That’s a lot to put on a pair of tights or a long-sleeved top … but is it true? Well, yes and no.

While there have not been conclusive studies on compression garments, and much of the evidence is with small groups of people or anecdotal, studies do exist that show the benefits of oxygen uptake to working muscles. There is also a small amount of research documenting how compression wear has reduced blood lactate levels after workouts.

And then, there’s our old friend the placebo effect. Any perceived performance improvements may be a result in how you feel wearing compression gear. Because you feel supported, you allow yourself to squat deeper or run longer. As we know, so much about exercise is mental rather than physical. Compression sportswear garments can stop the voices of self-doubt in your head and that’s a benefit we can all embrace.

Compression clothing is more expensive than what you’ll find in trendy workout stores or on the rack at Winners so you need to decide if it’s actually worth investing in a few key pieces to supplement your wardrobe. If you feel like a $150 pair of leggings is out of your budget (and for many of us it is), check the sale sections on websites like EC3D Sports or 2XU. You will be able to order last season’s products at a discount and make a decision if they are right for you.

If you have a race or big event coming up that will require extra support, a mental boost, and a speedier recovery, it might be time to treat yourself. After all, you don’t need to worry about hiking up your shorts as you dash through an obstacle at Tough Mudder. Just make sure that you have an opportunity to take your purchase on a test drive first to ensure that you like its fit and feel.

Fueling your workout: what to eat before and what to eat afterward

Woman eating thin crust pizza / Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Fueling your workout: what to eat before and what to eat afterward

I’ve heard so many different things about what to eat before, after, and during workouts that it can be complicated to figure out what’s the best strategy. In order to get the maximum benefit from your time at the gym, in a class, or on a run, you need to think about fuel. And not surprisingly, the fuel you choose is dependant on your goals. That means you need to consider the type of activity you are performing before selecting a snack. For example, you don’t need to carb-load before a pilates class!

Before a workout, it may be better to eat a meal that focuses more on protein and carbohydrates than fats. Protein can increase the amount of muscle mass gained from a resistance workout. Consuming the right amount and right kind of carbohydrates before a cardio-focused workout will ensure that your body has enough energy to perform well.

No matter what you eat, there’s technically no need to snack right before you exercise if your workout lasts less than 60 minutes. It won’t give you added energy — but it may keep you focused on your workout and off feeling hungry.

Timing is also important. Make sure you eat a meal or snack 30–90 minutes before you work out. This will reduce bloating. Working out on a very full stomach can lead to cramping and general uneasiness. While you don’t want to pass out from hunger when doing your squats, you also don’t want to feel like you’re going to throw up in downward dog.

But what about eating after a workout? During an exercise session, energy is depleted, muscle tissue is damaged, and fluids (along with electrolytes) are lost through sweat. Post-workout nutrients are essential and help stimulate protein synthesis to repair and build new muscle tissue and restore fluid and electrolyte balance.

You can use the intensity of your workout to determine the ratio of carbohydrate to protein in your post-workout meal. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends an endurance athlete consume a 300-400 calorie snack with a 3-to-1 carbohydrate to protein ratio within an hour of exercise completion. Low to medium intensity workouts are advised to follow a 2-to-1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, consumed within an hour and no longer than two hours after you exercise.

There are no real rules when it comes to fuel and exercise. Everyone is different but the key is to keep your pre- and post-workout snacks focused on protein and carbohydrates.

Avoiding Stress-mas: self-care for the holidays

Avoiding Stress-mas: self-care over the holidays / Image source: medicalnewstoday.com

Avoiding Stress-mas: self-care over the holidays / Image source: medicalnewstoday.com

Avoiding Stress-mas: self-care for the holidays

December is a busy month. Whether you’re wrapping up projects or wrapping up gifts, the end of the year boasts the shortest days crammed full of activities and obligations. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with responsibilities and commitments. Throw in complicated friend and family dynamics and you can forget yourself in all the commotion.

While we know that complete hibernation is impossible, you need to take some time for yourself over the holidays. Here are six tips to keep you healthy as we draw to a close of 2018.

  1.  Stay on schedule. If you have a schedule that works for you, try best to maintain it. Just because the world may be on holiday hours doesn’t mean you have to be.
  2.  Work at your own pace. And if you are on holiday hours, take advantage of the freedom. Sure, you need to get work done but you may now be able to get that massage in that you’ve been promising yourself since October. Having flexible hours means you can take advantage of working out in the middle of the day, seeing a matinee, trying out a new afternoon class, or spending that extra ten minutes over your coffee.
  3.  Book time just for you. Give yourself a break from the hectic holidays and de-stress by planning a quiet activity. Whether it’s an hour in a sensory deprivation tank, booking a cooking class, taking a walk at a nearby park with that podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to, or spending thirty minutes of quiet browsing in a bookstore, spending time by yourself will help you from feeling overwhelmed. These little self-care dates are your chance to reset.
  4.  Ignore Boxing Day. It’s chaotic and crowded—and just not worth it. Heading to the mall to fight with crowds over recent markdowns will do little for your mental health. Those deals will be there in the New Year. You’ll end up pressured into buying things you don’t want at a price point that isn’t that cheap.
  5.  Limit social engagements. Whether you are heading out of town for the holidays or staying in one pace, there will be an influx of gatherings and social activities. Make sure that you aren’t overextending yourself and never be afraid to be the first one to leave. Keep catch-up coffees from taking over your afternoon by scheduling an appointment nearby. This way you aren’t being rude, you just need to be somewhere else at a specific time.
  6.  Politely decline. You don’t need to be at every party, every event, spend time with every out-of-town relative, or visit those relatives that you never see. It’s always hard to say no but if you’re saying yes to everything, you’re focusing on quantity and not quality. Exhaustion is no vacation so don’t be afraid to skip out on a coupe of events or activities.

The holidays can be a difficult time for many of us. Just remember to put yourself at the top of your gift list and try to do one thing you enjoy every day.