What is the first thing that comes to your mind, when you read this title?

When I first heard the word “compression” I thought about ugly and uncomfortable clothes, only used by old or sick people. Having a closer look on the topic I noticed how it’s also linked to different kind of sports, and how compression can also be helpful for my hobby: Ice Skating. 

Copyright - Celine Huber

I started off with figure skating when I was 7 years old in a local club.

As I wanted to become more professional, I changed to the competitive center in Stuttgart one year later, where I trained 5-6 times a week. 

The best but also most challenging part in figure skating is that it’s really versatile. The sport requires fast and explosive movements like jumps, as well as body control and flexibility. 

When I talk to people who have nothing to do with ice skating, they often underestimate the sport and think skaters only look pretty on the ice. But they never notice how much power you need for the jumps and spins and also how exhausting a 3-4 minutes free skate really is. 

My typical training routine started off with 30 minutes, off-ice warm-up. I’d go for a run or start with some typical warm up exercises and jumps. After putting on my skates I train my jumps, spins and the choreography of my programs.  At the end of the day we often have muscle training or ballet classes. 

After an exhausting 3-hour day there is nothing better than relaxing in front of the TV or take a bath to be fit for the next lesson. Wouldn’t it be helpful to put some compression tights on, so my muscles won’t be saw the next day? Sounds like magic. But it actually isn’t. 

First of all, we have to understand what compression does,
before we can say if it is helpful for any kind of sport.

Compression is already really popular for recovery. It‘s used to reduce performance loss especially in the short term regeneration and also to reduce muscle pain. Therefore, the compression garments should be worn after training. 

The result of hard training are microscopic tears in your muscles. As soon as you’re passive the water in your muscle cells enlarges and that causes the pain. The compression helps to pump the water out and enhances transport which reduces that pain.

But can compression also be helpful during training?

The answer is yes! Prof. Anton Wicker: supervisor of the ski national team in Austria and CEO of the university hospital of physical medicine in Salzburg, found out that compression has also a positive impact on the muscle strength and on the strength development while explosive and fast movements and also jumps.

This is also linked to figure skating. Fast and explosive movements are really important for jumps and especially jump combinations. After landing the first jump you need to leave the ice as fast as possible for the second one. Compression garments can help the muscle to contract again faster and to develop more power in a shorter period of time. But this is not only really helpful for ice skating, similar motions can for example be found in dancing, athletics or volleyball. 

Moreover, compression promotes blood circulation. It narrows blood veins to reduce the time blood stays in limbs. Oxygen-poor blood returns faster from lower limbs back to the heart and waste products can be removed faster. During long free skating programs this can be lifesaving to support the muscle condition and prevent saw muscles. 

All in all, I think compression doesn’t deserve the old and dusty image it still has. Compression can be really helpful for many kinds of sports. Especially explosive movements and jumps can be improved with compression. And also, for the recovery it’s a must have for everyone. If I had known earlier about that, I would have saved me some pain and saw muscles. 
Also, the ugly picture I used to have in my head wasn’t really the reality. Todays Compression garments are actually really stylish and come in different colors and designs. 
If you are after all still not convinced, how about you try it out yourself!