I have entered a new era. I am now living in the I-Have-Discovered-The-Magic-of-Recovery-Tights era.
In my mission to get back into shape after Baby 2, I aim to work out and/or play tennis five days a week. When I have time, I cram in a short run on the weekends. Back before life with babies, cycling was my favorite cross training activity. I could ride 30 miles without much problem. That was now three years and two babies ago. Recently, my husband got me back on my road bike. After completing a 19-mile ride, my legs were Jell-O. I could feel the ache coming on fast.
Worried about next day soreness — and even worse, second day agony — I went to my drawer of workout gear and dug to the back for my nearly forgotten pair of Skins RY400 Recovery Tights. The science behind these is pretty technical, but basically these tights use compression to deliver extra oxygen to muscles to help them recover more quickly (check out my previous entry on Skins for the nitty gritty details). When TW first brought in Skins a few years ago, I picked up some of the recovery tights because I was really sold on all the benefits, but I hadn’t used them much because I proceeded to expand the family and shelved super intense workouts.
If in addition to being a tennis player you’re a runner, cyclist or a triathlete, you may have already heard about and even tried Skins. These aren’t your average compression shorts, tops or sleeves. Skins items are designed with a specially engineered gradient compression to deliver oxygen to an athlete’s working muscles. Just the right amount of compression in just the right areas improves circulation, keeping your muscles primed for competition.
We’ve just added this unique brand to our wide range of apparel options at Tennis Warehouse. Skins got its start in Australia and has made its way into the US market. Its popularity has grown in the endurance sport categories, but the testing team here at Tennis Warehouse sees plenty of benefit to wearing these on court, too.
Followers of our videos may have seen Chris “Vlogman” Edwards, Spencer “The Blade” Boller or Jason “The Forehand” Huang sporting Skins sleeves in their Gotta Want It series videos as well as review videos. Chris wore his during the Vince Dente Memorial Tournament. He played doubles with Spencer and men’s singles, and this tournament experience made Chris a Skins devotee. I put on my journalist hat for a brief moment to ask Chris about why he likes them so much.
“I like the fact that my arm warms up much faster when I’m wearing it,” Chris told me. “The compression definitely does support the muscles and tendons when I’m wearing it. The biggest benefit for me is if I’m playing in a tournament situation with multiple matches a day, I recover much quicker for my next match and warm-up much quicker when I wear my Skins. It reduces fatigue. I can play in comfort from the first ball where it could take a couple of games to feel loose again without the Skins.”
But how does it do that? Let’s look a little further into the technology behind it all. Skins calls it engineered gradient compression with BioAcceleration Technology. The Skins compression is designed to apply just the right amount of compression and surface pressure over key areas to trigger increased blood flow. This in turn increases how much oxygen reaches these key muscles to enhance their performance. The improved circulation also aids the body in getting rid of lactic acid and other waste that might hinder your muscle performance. All this together should let you work harder for longer.
And the reducing fatigue part that Chris experienced?
According to the Skins USA web site, “The improved oxygenation is most marked in recovery from exercise. As a result, muscle repair is accelerated, with a greater effect if your Skins are worn for longer. The best effects on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which can last for more than 48 hours, are seen after 8 hours during which time pain, muscle weakness and alertness are dramatically improved.”
Though the gradient compression pieces help with recovery, there are special tops and tights that aid muscle recovery even more. They are meant to be worn after your workouts and can be worn beneath your street clothes. I have a pair of recovery tights and find them comfortable to wear under my work clothes. Skins says you can even wear them to bed, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’ve sidelined them for now since I’m pregnant and not working out very hard these days. Jason, though, wears his sleeves for his daily tennis sessions as well as the recovery items after he plays or goes to the gym to lift weights. He was really excited to test the Skins, and he’s been wearing them for months now and is still just as jazzed about them.
“After a long, hard workout, I love to wear my recovery gear to bed,” Jason explained to me. “It’s actually pretty cooling and has compression in all the right places. Movement is not restricted at all. Whether it actually works or if it’s just in my head, I don’t know, but I do feel better the next day.”
If you’re interested in any of the items, be sure to check what size you should wear. There’s very specific sizing to ensure you get the right amount of compression. Click on our Apparel Sizing links from the product pages for detailed charts for tops, half tights, full tights, shorts and sleeves.
For those of you have tried them, please feel free to share your stories. We’d love to hear them.