So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

My photo
Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The End Of Sports Fashion As We Know It

I'm certain there are people who will disagree with me, but in many cases, I believe more textile is not always a good thing. Take triathlon, for instance. The first triathletes competed in little more than a Speedo & an itty bitty singlet, with maybe a pair of high-cut running shorts for the run leg of the event; this might have been because the first really good tri-geeks were swimmers or lifeguards. Then came the first compression wear, an offshoot of cycling shorts. These have been a blessing & a curse. It seems the compressive nylon lycra cycling shorts decreases the amount of muscle vibration on the run, thus decreasing the amount of fatigue & perhaps even thwarts the onset of muscle cramps in the later stages of the run.
But the next thing you know, there are athletes participating in triathlon in full tights, near-full tights, calf sleeves, arm warmers, & so on, & so on. My heavens, whatever happened to the travel light, travel fast dictum? Okay, so the compression wear is light, but it sure as hell doesn't seem all that fast to me. In many cases I'd worry like mad about the chance of heat stroke from all that coverage. I don't care about the fact Paula Radcliffe wears compression stockings when she races marathons; she looks like a dork, or whatever the female version of dork is. FloJo is dead, ladies (& gentlemen); get past it.
But, in much the same way I am with technical stuff - a semi-late adopter - I took the time to try & read some of the research on the benefits & drawbacks of using compression clothing; when, why, how long, & so on. Most of the researchers who have written for triathlon magazines say the jury is still out on the overall benefits, but believe there's a place for compression tops, tights, & stockings in the recovery from hard workout efforts. They don't see much benefit to racing in them, however.
Still, I am a (cheap) skeptic. I almost picked up some 2XU compression wear while at the IM 70.3 expo, but there was still the little bit of sticker shock; what if this stuff was all bupkus? When Sigvaris, an RRCA corporate sponsor, was looking for a population at the recent national convention who would be willing to try a pair of their athletic recovery socks, I figured this would be the perfect time to give stockings a shot. Sigvaris is in the medical compression wear field, but their latest stuff is a far cry from the TED hose or the Jobst stockings I encountered when working at the VA hospital.
First, the stockings I was given for the study are for athletic recovery. They went up to just below the knees & provided anywhere from 20-to-30 millimeters of pressure. But I have to admit the eight hours I spent in the stockings were a fairly comfortable experience. What's more, I didn't feel (too) beat up in the evening, or the next morning when I awakened after the evening's banquetizing & socializing. My right achilles tendon was a two-to-three on a one-to-ten scale of soreness, with ten being "shoot me now." But that's pretty much par for the course, especially the week after riding 56 miles, then running 13.1 miles in succession.
I wasn't looking for miracles from the Sigvaris stockings, so feeling good the next morning was definitely a positive outcome. My response to the use of the stockings seems to align with the referenced studies (Ali, Caine, & Snow, 2007; Engineering of Sport, 2009) on the Sigvaris website ( And naturally, you get what you pay a thank you for participating in the study I'll receive another pair of stockings for personal use.

But don't expect to see me wearing them on the road during one of my long training runs. I'm not ready to become uber-geek. Or would that be uber-dork?

No comments: