The Argument For Leggings
Perhaps you associate leggings with women's fashion and are having a hard time jumping on the men's leggings bandwagon. But if you can let go of your preconceived notions about this product, you could improve your workout experience tremendously. Studies have found that wearing compression garments can help you run faster and feel less fatigued while you do it. This occurs because compression leggings apply pressure to certain parts of the body that can help accelerate blood flow and deliver more oxygen to your muscles. Quality compression garments help your body more efficiently disperse energy throughout your muscles, making intense moves like lunges and sprints feel less laborious.
The oxygen-boosting effects of leggings do more than improve your performance; they also lengthen it. Better circulation helps your muscles dispel lactic acid and other types of waste that are holding you back. This helps you work out longer. The expulsion of waste and lactic acid can reduce delayed onset soreness, too. If you can change your perception of these clothing items, you could avoid the pain that comes around 24 to 72 hours after extreme exercise, and keeps you from hitting the gym again.
Another interesting effect of compression leggings is that the garments help an athlete's proprioception, which is essentially one's awareness of the relationship between their body and the space around it. This can be incredibly beneficial in competitive sports. Now, let's finally address the reason you may not be wearing compression leggings: you feel embarrassed being so exposed. But the gym is where you have you time — it's time you take to improve yourself. You shouldn't be worried about what others think of you or how you look. So, stop letting insecurities hold you back from a better workout.
The History Of Compression Garments
Compression garments didn't appear overnight. Rather, these performance-boosting clothes are a result of several other inventions that preceded them and had to be used together to make them possible. Let's not forget that compression isn't only vital in the athletic arena, but also the medical one. There is some evidence that the residents of ancient Rome and Egypt created makeshift compression wear, but theirs performed more like bindings because they didn't have things like elastic or sewing machines yet. Nonetheless, they were relying on the same concept as modern day compression wear, which is the management of blood flow.
Compression garments as we know them today couldn't even begin to develop until the invention of the first electric knitting machine, made in 1589, and the improvements made upon it. But even then, the garment world would have to wait for Charles Goodyear to make vulcanized rubber in the mid 1800s. Still, it wouldn't be until years later that sheets of this rubber were cut into thin slivers. Between the early and mid 1900s, several inventors found ways to extrude rubber fibers, and wrap them in fabrics like cotton, to form elastic threads.
Quick on the heels of the creation of elastic came Spandex (sometimes called Lycra or Elastane), patented in 1958. Spandex rapidly stole the spotlight from natural rubber because it boasted more elasticity, strength, and UV-resistance. It first took off in the lingerie and shapewear markets, but eventually found its way into workout clothing. Today, spandex-based compression wear is a beloved item among professional and amateur athletes around the world.
What To Look For In Leggings
If you get a great pair of leggings, you won't even realize you're wearing any because they're designed to remove clothing-related distractions. Look for leggings that contain moisture-wicking technology, so you aren't sitting in your own pool of sweat halfway through your workout. You may also consider flat seam construction to reduce chafing and create a slim profile if you wear your leggings under other pants. Good contouring around the knees will offer a nice range of motion, too. Make sure compression is especially good around your more private regions because any motion in that area is bound to be detrimental to your workout.
If you like to take your workouts outdoors in the winter, make sure your leggings are rated for cold weather. You don't want to cut your stair lunges short because of frostbite. You might also want a pair in a bright color, so vehicles can see you if you run outside at night. If your choice of outdoor exercise is a ride on your mountain bike, look for a pair that rises to your calves so they don't snag your pedals. For daytime, outdoor workouts, make sure your leggings have a high UPF rating. A rating of 50 and up is ideal if you spend between 30 minutes and an hour exercising outdoors.
When it comes to comfort, you'll want a wide, soft, and flexible waistband that stays in place without squeezing you too tightly. You don't want the embarrassment of finding, mid-squats, that your leggings have slid down past your...you know. You might even want a drawstring closure if you know your weight will fluctuate as a result of your workouts. If you often forget to pack an extra set of underwear for the gym, you are in luck, as there are leggings that can be worn sans underwear. On the topic of packing for the gym, you might want leggings that fold down into a small size and take up minimal space in your backpack.