The idea behind compression is that by compressing the muscle two things are in play, blood flow is increased, and muscle oscillation is decreased. This is argued and in some cases proven to reduce fatigue, reduce soreness, increase recovery time post workout, and increase performance. Whether or not it excels performance instantly while in use is the least proven and hence most debated, how much it reduces injury, reduces soreness, and increases time of recovery has in fact been more or less proven by unbias studies.

Compression among elite athletes are claimed to elevate their performance, a notion that has had most studies done by manufacturer's of compression product, and by those opposing and arguing against it, both sides clearly bias. Because of this getting the spotlight, what often gets overlooked or pushed down to the bottom of the web search that only those digging deep into the matter find is that on the subject of recovery, injury prevention, and reduced soreness, these benefits of compression have in fact been proven by unbias studies, and there are indeed quite a few. Each of them found that the test group who wore compression while working out unquestionably had lower heart rate while working out, lower soreness rates after, recovered quicker, and less reported muscle injuries.

So, Does it Work

The answer to this really depends on what the user means by "works". Does it reduce injury, reduce soreness, and speed up recovery? Yes, this has been more or less proven. Does it reduce fatigue mid-workout thus enabling a better, longer, higher level of performance? Does it enhance the user's overall performance while in use? This is what is so heavily debated. There hasn't been proof showing that it does not, but there also hasn't been unquestionable proof showing that it does. Professional athletes often swear by it, stating that for them it does. Professional basketball games are littered with players wearing compression sleeves on their arms and legs. Some could say that it's hard to argue with people who are the elite performers in the country if not the world at their sport. Others might simply say that for these professional player it is a placebo affect going on, that they are convinced of the benefit and so therefore they natural perform better. Those strongly against grab on to this lack of scientific proof and decide the technology as a whole is just a fad, however those more reasonable or impartial can at least confirm the ample proof on the post workout benefits of compression and can try the product out and decide for themselves if they find any difference during the workout or not, knowing at least that it will reduce soreness and chances of injury at the very least.

Are All Compression the Same Then?

As you might guess, the answer is of course no. A cheap set of compression might technically "compress" but be very inefficient and limited at doing so, not to mention the material used is most likely inferior so longevity and comfort are issues also, a cheap material is more likely to snag and rip and hence have to be replaced quicker as well as simply be uncomfortable to wear. Then as you get higher end there are in fact added benefits in the more expensive product not seen in regular compression. 2XU has their MCS line which not only compresses, but sections off the major muscles to more efficiently hold the muscle in place and better reduce muscle oscillation even better. Skins has the A400 line that employees a variety of technologies with benefits that you won't find on your generic compression product.

In addition to top of the line brands line 2XU, Skins, and CW-X who each specialize in compression, there is also your favorite brand that makes their own compression that may not be as technologically advanced as those other brands just listed, but they are far superior then a cheap set and both come with a cheaper price tag then compression specialty brands and are a brand you may already use and know that apparel they make fit you well. Under Armour, Pearl Izumi, Injinji, The North Face, Salomon, the list goes on, they all make their own compression lines. This is not to say that compression specialty brands like 2XU and Skins are only for the hard core. Each does indeed have varying lines with varying price tags depending on each individual's needs, from the more universal and hence less expensive to the elite lines.