Is there actual evidence that compression sleeves work?

as I triathlete, I have constant battles with my calves seizing up, when over taxed. Results in extended pain that halts run training for a week at least. . I wear compression sleeves on both legs.
My question is: Are they a placebo, or do they have science to back their effectiveness up?

I had the same question. Christie Aschwanden in Good to Go says…

What’s the evidence that wearing these things will help me recover? The studies on compression clothing are mixed. Shona Halson, the Australian recovery expert, said that “overall, if you look at the majority of studies to date, there seem to be small positive effects from compression garments for both performance and recovery.” A 2013 meta-analysis found that compression clothing moderately reduced delayed-onset muscle soreness, as well as aiding the recovery of muscle function after exercise.10 A 2017 review found similar small benefits.11 Morgan said that there’s a psychological component at play here too. Some people really like the way compression garments feel. During exercise, they can reduce vibration in the muscle, and afterward they can make muscles feel that they’re getting a hug.


Essentially you’re looking for something with a reliable and significant effect. These aren’t those.


I think the only thing they do is promote circulation, so they might be valuable on a flight. But for recovery? No real science of which I’m aware. I use compression sometimes, but mostly because I like the way it feels when I’m sore and it reduces muscle jiggles which can hurt. I never ever ever ever run or bike in them. Hate compression on my calves during… hate it.

1 Like


1 Like

I have recently been prescribed compression sleeves for poor circulation in my right leg. I did ask about possible recovery benefits after cycling. The specialist I saw thought that the possibility of such a thing was minimal, at best.

Just wondering as I type this if they would offer some benefit to recovery whilst desk bound? Probably some comfort too.

Currently I’m standing (I’m lucky to have a standing desk) stretching my calves that are feeling tight from yesterday’s run, by run I mean slow jog.

If you have a standing desk or routinely get up and walk around, it’s not going to make a difference. If you are desk ridden for multiple hours without option of moving, then they’ll help with circulation. Evidence of aiding recovery is dubious, at best.

Love my stand up desk too!

1 Like