When 2XU was signed as the official compression supplier of the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), their high-performance Director, Troy Flanagan said, “having access to technical compression wear will allow for faster recovery between races and during travel to the various events.”
A study published later that same year looked specifically at the effects of leg compression on alpine skiers and several additional benefits were identified.
Alpine skiing is brutal on the body. Skiers are pounded by strong passive vibrations and shocks that displace the muscles. Add to this the fact that they are also trying to hold a deep tuck position, maintain balance, and produce power through turns and jumps, and it’s one hell of a strain on the muscles and joints.
Using compression, the skiers achieved a deeper tuck position with a lower level of perceived exertion without compromising maximal leg strength, jumping performance or balance, and all this with no differences in whole-body oxygen consumption or blood lactate concentration.
The researchers proposed the explanation that compression may also:
- Reduce how much the thigh muscles are moved about by the vibration forces that can cause fatigue and (delayed) soreness in the muscle;
- Produce more response to a nerve stimulation of the muscle (as measured by EMG – electromyography), which improved the skiers’ sensory feedback, helping to improve their balance and awareness of their body position for turns, jumps, etc.;
- Improve oxygenation of the vastus lateralis muscle, which is the largest and most powerful muscle of the quadriceps – more oxygen to the muscle can allow the muscle to work longer to fatigue;
- Help maintain maximal isometric leg force (how solidly they could hold a position), jumping height and balance.
The take-away point for recreational skiers and snowboarders is that compression will help you hit the slopes for longer days, and you’ll be stronger (and less sore!) when backing up on consecutive days. Compression wear such as tights, long-sleeve tops and socks will help you back up for another day in the powder by enhancing blood circulation to prevent blood pooling in the major muscle groups, and forcing a quicker return of oxygen-rich blood to these muscles.
2XU compression uses a slightly graduated compression to offer more squeeze on targeted muscle groups to provide stability where you need it most. This can help cut down that mid-afternoon tightness in the legs, but it can may also help your performance, for example by reducing knee torque so you can make better turns, more safely, with less effort.
The 2XU Ignition Compression range uses soft, warm, breathable and super-strong PWX FLEX compression that’s still super-thin and light to keep your gear weight down. The full length tights have the advantage of supporting the whole calf muscle area, but if your ski boot liners are molded to fit your foot really tightly, then a 3/4 compression tight can work better. the go when your ski boot liners are molded to fit your foot really tightly. All the gear in the Ignition range have a soft, brushed thermal inner layer that helps you retain your body’s warmth while still allowing sweat to be wicked away from skin.
For additional support for the lower leg and feet, you can use compression socks, too. 2XU has developed the Vectr Alpine Compression Socks specifically for snow sports, where the feet and ankles take a hammering. The special X:LOCK support system helps support both the ankle and the arch of the foot with a secure, ergonomic fit. For warmth and protection from abrasion, there’s a light padding with a merino blend through the footbed, plus padding in the front shin panels to guard against grazing your legs on your boots. As with all 2XU compression socks, powerful compression wrap the lower leg muscles to help protect against soreness and fatigue. The next time you hit the snow with your board or skis, try using compression gear to hold it together so you can stay on your feet more and keep coming back for more.