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Putting the Squeeze on Compression

February 03, 2018

Putting the Squeeze on Compression

Getting Real with Compression

There are quite a few people who use the term “compression” to describe anything that is fits snugly. In fact, the term has steadily become more of a generic adjective in our sport. The truth behind the continued use of compression is, simply, many of us have been fed a line of bullshit by brands we’re supposed to trust. It’s easy to get mixed up in the technical jargon brands use to describe the benefits of their gear, so we're here to help set the record straight on compression.

What is real compression technology?

When it comes down to it, a true compression technology isn’t just tight. The countless hours of scientific experimentation and testing behind a true compression item would blow your mind! Compression gear can be offered in various grades, measured in units called “millimeters of mercury” (a unit of pressure measurement, abbreviated: mmHg) and are assigned a range of numbers; e.g. 20-30 mmHg. Basically, the numbers represent the minimum and maximum amount of compressive force the garment applies. Always remember, Human Octane garments labeled “compression” are graded before heading to market by an independent third-party testing facility to determine the minimum and maximum amount of millimeters of mercury each garment contains. 

You might have heard the term “medical grade compression” before, but do you know anything about it other than it sounds cooler than “tight on your ass”? Medical grade compression is also measured in the same grades as mentioned above. “Mild” compression includes anything up to 20 mmHg. It’s designed to stop blood from pooling in your lower extremities during long periods of sitting down, and is recommended to pregnant women in their third trimester and travelers on long flights.  The 20-30 mmHg measurement is ideal for healthy athletes. A rating higher than 20-30 mmHg is applied mainly for post-op patients and those with serious medical conditions, including blood clots.

What does 20-30 mmHg actually do for you? 

Studies show that medical grade compression offers key benefits for endurance athletes. Blood in your veins has to work against gravity to flow back to the heart. By squeezing the leg tissues and walls of the veins, compression gear can help blood in the veins return to the heart, which means it can then be pumped back out quickly (as long as you’ve been keeping up with your cardio). Twenty-30 mmHg compression can also improve the flow of the fluid (called lymph) that bathes the cells in your legs. Essentially, medical grade compression improves blood flow and lymph which makes your legs feel less tired after a long run.

Levels on Compression in Human Octane Gear

Depending on the style, Human Octane gear has various levels of mmHg. In our socks, our standard is graduated 20-30 mmHg. Graduated means that it’s tightest at your ankle and gets gradually loser the further up your calf it goes. Our shorts and tights use a 20-25 mmHg standard – a slightly lower level of compression to promote less restricted movement for bigger muscles in your legs, hips and glutes.