Leading physical rehab apparel maker McDavid – known for its ubiquitous ankle and knee braces, elbow sleeves, and the like – is branching out with a new line of compression apparel it claims will goose your juice during hard training. In theory, the gear squeezes limbs and muscles enough to increase blood flow, and so translates to better performance and less post-workout soreness. We're not sure we're ready to endorse that theory (see below), but there's no question we love the fit, feel, and look of the line. And we'll just say: We enjoy the chance to strut around while looking a little like Batman (cowl and batarang sold separately).
Compression gear has been around a while, but only recently has it become trendy – and so has earned seemingly equal camps of boosters and detractors lining up to either promote or poke fun at the idea. Frankly, the science we've seen is mixed. Although some studies (such as this 2011 Australian study) have shown that compression clothing can marginally improve blood flow, there just currently isn't a large enough body of solid research. And none we've seen that support claims that compression gear has a significant effect on athletic performance. Still, we've heard plenty of anecdotal evidence that can't just be dismissed, especially from runners who say compression socks noticeably reduce muscle soreness after long runs. Whether the socks deserve credit or it's the placebo effect, we can't say.
Regardless of scientific studies or claims, however, McDavid's compression pants, shorts, and long-sleeve shirt are light and silky and rate as solid, reasonably priced, durable workout wear. We wore the full getup during a high-interval track circuit, before going to the gym for a heavy lift, and found they were not only comfortable, but offer better freedom of movement than other tight-fitting options we've used while still feeling supportive. We haven't attempted to fight crime while wearing our getup, yet, but expect we'd experience similar performance. [mcdavidusa.com]