Why Kim K loves compression - and why you should too - Hashtag Legend

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Why Kim K loves compression - and why you should too

Apr 09, 2018

Kim Kardashian in 2XU compression tights

Anyone who follows Kim Kardashian would be aware of her fondness for compression garments. The recently announced Yeezy and 2XU collaboration therefore should not come as a major surprise. We speak to Jamie Hunt, the Product Development head of 2XU, a former ranking triathlete. Jamie's passion for and expertise in high-performance fabrics has made 2XU a global leader in fabric technology in the sports apparel sector.

Can you explain what compression is for those of us who don’t know? Is it a special way the fabric is woven?

Compression has many applications both for athletes and in everyday life.  For the athlete it improves recovery, helps guard against muscle injuries and helps you perform strongly day after day.  Even for the everyday person, whether it’s wearing flight socks or you’re just on your feet all day, compression improves circulation so your legs feel fresher and you feel better the next day. 

What is the science behind this technology? How was it developed?

The science started many years ago in the hospital arena. Compression is used extensively in hospitals to help patients post-surgery and it was adopted into the sporting world approximately 25 years ago.  Since then there have been approximately 180 research papers on compression in sport, and these have conclusively found that compression helps athletes both during and after sport. 

How does compression enhance the performance of athletes and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness?

2XU’s compression advances performance during exercise by reducing muscle fatigue and damage.  It also speeds up recovery times by increasing blood circulation, which reduces muscle swelling and soreness.  When it comes to compression clothing, this can be used for beginners right through to professional athletes.  Mostly it effects beginners because it’s going to help support you from injury, help you recover faster and for those who are perhaps a little older, will guard against any kind of over-use injury as well. Compression is great from beginners right through to professionals and whether you are young or old, it’s going to help you in all aspects and in all sports.     

A teaser of the compression shorts developed in collaboration with 2XU for the YEEZY S7 collection

Why has the technology been able to change?

When we first entered the compression space we entered it with a sporting frame of mind. Obviously in hospitals, compression has always been very inflexible. But compression in sport must be flexible, light and have good moisture management, yet still offer the power to help support muscles.  When we entered the field, the first thing we looked to create was a fabric that had all of these abilities and at 2XU we have the world’s most powerful and lightest compression fabric.  This is one of the major reasons we are one of the world’s leading compression brands. 

Is this why we see men wear tights under shorts in the fitness circles?

Absolutely. In many nations around the world, men wear compression without shorts; it depends how fashionable the men are.  In Europe we see most men wear compression without shorts but definitely in the US and Asia we see them wear it with shorts.  Compression helps many athletes, whether it’s those at the gym doing Pilates, an intense workout, HIIT or spin biking, compression helps in all these sports to guard against injury and fatigue.  It has been picked up in all possible sports and the way its worn, with or without shorts, will depend a lot on which country you live in. 

Do you wear compression when you fly?

Absolutely. Whether you are flying economy or business, compression is definitely going to enhance blood flow. DVT and blood clotting are major issues when flying, especially on long-haul flights.  Many studies show that compression while you are flying helps guard against the risk of DVT and personally, I live in compression.  I am also an Ironman triathlete, I’m going to Hawaii this year so I run in it, I cycle in it, and I wear it all day long. I am the biggest advocate there is.  

Is there a method to optimising how we wear compression garments? 

Absolutely, and I am often asked that exact question. How often should I wear it, when should I wear it, how long should I wear it for?  Ultimately, whenever you work out wearing compression it’s going to help you. It helps guard against injury, fatigue, and it’s also going to help guard against long-term muscle injuries.  Also, after you have finished working out, wearing compression is going to help you recover.  I often say anywhere between three and four hours of wearing compression after a workout and you’re going to get a massive benefit for your training the following day. It helps to remove all the blood waste products that occur while you are training.

Will compression make women look more… compressed?

Yes is the simple answer.  With compression fabric, it’s extremely powerful so it’s definitely going to hold muscles in place.  It definitely does enhance the figure and because it’s lightweight and breathable, it’s going to have that power and support as well as being extremely comfortable to wear. 

What is next for this type of technology?

Even as a technology compression is only really 25 years old, so at 2XU we have spent around AUD$3 million over the last six or seven years testing compression and trying to understand how it works on different people.  Even aspects like your blood pressure and how fit you are and how fit you aren’t – all these perspectives play a massive part in how compression is going to benefit the consumer.  I think through extra research and extra testing, we are going to learn more and more about the fabric, about how powerful it must be, how light it needs to be. As the years go on the benefits of compression will always stand true, but we will get better and better at understanding which exact garment works for each individual person.  

Is it difficult to incorporate woven fabrics with compression knits?

It’s extremely hard because woven fabrics definitely don’t stretch very well, so we always make our fabric out of knit so it can stretch with the body better. 

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Kim Bui Kollar