Compression to promote circulation has been around for quite some time, since it's been used for a while in the medical industry to prevent blood clots in patients. It's a slightly newer phenomenon in athletics though, and the first athlete to popularize compression was Paula Radcliffe with her Oxysox that she wore during her world record marathon in London (among other races). Lately, compression wear's popularity has surged, and everyone from Chris Solinsky to that mid-pack triathlete who lives down the street from you is rocking compression gear.
There are two main types of compression gear: active gear and recovery gear. Both are intended to improve circulation and promote bloodflow, either to improve performance or speed recovery. There are also different types of compression. CW-X became known for targeted support, similar to kinesio taping techniques, in order to support muscles and decrease muscle oscillation. Other companies (Skins, for example) use a gradient where the distal end is more compressive than the proximal end, which is supposed to return blood back to the heart more quickly.
While the companies that focus mainly on compression wear are the ones who tend to get the most publicity (CW-X, Skins, 2XU, Zoot, Zensah, RecoFit, etc), several other companies are getting in on the compression craze too. Saucony's compression offering is the AMP PRO2 line, which includes shirts, tights, calf and arm sleeves, and a full body suit. It also includes clothes for both training and recovery. I own the Saucony AMP PRO2 Recovery Tight.
Saucony's online description of the AMP PRO2 Recovery Tight is as follows:
The AMP PRO2 Recovery Tight promotes healing and reduces recovery time. AMP PRO2 utilizes compression technology and a revolutionary responsive fiber that is infused with 13 natural minerals, resulting in improved oxygenated blood flow, which is critical to better recovery. Built for maximum comfort with strategically placed seams and plush elastic waist band.The AMP PRO2 is a well-made tight, made of medium weight fabric (a far cry from the wispy Skins clothes or the super thick CW-X wear) that doesn't snag easily. It comes in black with a light blue stripe for women and black with a red stripe for men. The waistband is comfortable, as are the rest of the tights. They can be a bit warm during the summer months, but I'm not sure what else you can expect with a tight. I've been using my pair of AMP PRO2 tights for about 6 months (2-3 days per week, depending on how many quality workouts I do that week), and they have held up fine. I wash them in cold water and line dry them.
- • AMP PRO2 41% Celliant Polyester, 43% Nylon, 16% Lycra
- • Features Microban antimicrobial
- • Contrast panels with tonal geometric print
- • Engineered plush elastic waistband
- • AMP PRO2 heat transfer logo
- • 27.5" inseam
So the big question is how do they work? When I put these on, my first instinct was that they are not very compressive. I have a small in these, but I think I'd have been better off in the XS (which is what the sizing chart on the website says, so follow that because it's most likely accurate). Compared to my RecoFit calf sleeves and CW-X shorts, they're actually pretty loose. However, sleeping in these the night after a hard workout definitely makes a difference, and I tend to wake up less sore the next day. The description claims that the fabric is infused with minerals to improve bloodflow, and while that sounds like pseudoscience at best (to me, at least), something is making these tights work, and it's not the placebo effect since I went to bed convinced that they were too loose to do any good. I usually double up these with the RecoFit sleeves, putting the RecoFit sleeves on first and the AMP PRO2 tights over the top, which seems to help even more.
The Saucony AMP PRO2 Recovery Tight retails for $110, so they're not cheap. They do work though. However, you may be able to find a cheaper alternative, and I'm not sure how they stack up to similarly priced tights from competing companies (I want these but there's no way I can afford them, so you all should tell all your friends about my blog so it gets really popular, and then maybe Zoot will provide me with a pair to review!).
Full disclosure: Saucony provided these tights to the National Running Center free of charge, and they passed them along to me.