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What you wear to and from training isn’t a fashion statement – it’s all about letting your body maintain a comfortably warm temperature so that it performs and recovers to the best of its ability. When the weather’s cold, you need all the help you can get from clothing that traps your body heat, while still ‘breathing’ enough to let sweat vapor escape. It should also be thin, light and flexible enough to allow plenty of movement for warming up, cooldown drills and stretching.
The warm up starts before you get your body into action – here’s how your choice of clothes helps.
- Clothes that insulate your body prior to warm-up help promotes thinner synovial fluid in the joints so that they can hit a better range of motion faster, which lowers your risk of injury.
- Compression clothing that covers the most important muscle groups for your activity will improve your awareness of the biofeedback going to your muscles and connective tissue. That means your coordination, agility and surefootedness clicks into place quicker, and you have greater awareness of posture and body positioning. 2XU’s Elite MCS Compression has extra compression mapped to the key muscles for your sport, which will give you even greater biofeedback to the muscles during warm-up. If you don’t want to keep it on during your session or event, check out the sleeve-style MCS Compression Arm Guards and MCS Compression Calf Guards, which can both be whipped off in a jiffy without the need to remove any other clothes.
- In many sports and races, the real challenge comes in staying warm in the gap between your warm-up and launching into your sport or event. In high power events lasting five minutes or less (or sports that have “bursts” of activity), increased muscle temperature can improve power output. One study reported a 4 percent increase in vertical jump power for every degree increase in muscle temperature, while in cycling, peak power output improved up to 10 percent for every degree increase. The research showed demonstrated how important “passive heating” (e.g. with warm clothes) is between warm-up and activity or between bouts of activity when it comes to hitting – and maintaining – peak performance. Even for long endurance events, rugging up after warm-up will help you get a powerful start to give you better positioning in the group.
Let your body cool down gently, and use compression as ‘passive recovery’.
- Post-exercise “shivers”, muscle spasms, stiffness – cooling down too rapidly after training can be a big contributor to all these. Here’s how it works. When you stop exercising, your heat loss is going to be greater than your heat production. That’s fine at first, because if your core body temperature drops too much or too quickly, your blood vessels can begin to constrict, restricting blood flow to and from the muscles. This over-rapid cooling is worse in people with bodies that have a relatively high surface area, such as tall, lean people, and most women.
- Wearing compression clothing after exercise can prevent excessive soreness and muscle damage from hard training sessions, according to several studies, including Massey University research on compression socks and running performance. A report published by Ausport explained that this happens due to a reduction in post-exercise swelling in muscles and joints, and better clearance of the biochemical indicators of muscle fatigue and muscle damage.
- 2XU has specific Recovery Compression in a range of styles to suit your taste and comfort, but it all comes in a thicker, stronger gradient compression than other 2XU ranges of compression, designed to promote increased blood flow for faster recovery when you’re not moving as much.
By Dom Cadden
Faulkner, S. and others (2013) Reducing muscle temperature drop after warm-up improves sprint cycling performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 45(2): 359-365.
Ali, A.; Creasy, R. H.; Edge, J. A., The effect of graduated compression stockings on running performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2011, 25 (5), 1385-1392.
Calder, Angela, Australian Sports Commission; Compressive clothing and recovery, Applied Sports Knowledge, Vol.8, No. 2.