If you’ve watched a soccer game over the past 5 to 10 years, you probably noticed the skin-tight compression shirts players wear under their uniforms. Nowadays, layers rarely wear long-sleeved shirts. Instead, they opt for compression gear if they need extra length.
Have you ever wondered, why soccer players wear compression shirts?
This article looks at compression gear and explores the main reasons players wear it. Some of the key areas of focus we’ll touch on include:
- Benefits of wearing compression gear
- Compression shorts
- How to buy the right type of compression gear
If you’re looking for ways to take training to a new level, read on to find out the key benefits of compression clothing.
What Is A Compression Shirt?
A compression shirt is a skin-tight garment, usually made from a nylon and spandex blend. This type of clothing is designed to be worn under a shirt or top as a base layer.
There are several different types of compression clothing. Some compression garments are made specifically for medical use.
When it comes to sports, compression shirts cling tightly to the muscles, offering support. This pressure not only offers reinforcement to the upper body but is also believed to reduce inflammation and enhance muscle recovery.
Soccer Compression Apparel FAQs
Are Compression Shirts Good For Soccer?
There have been many studies to determine whether or not compression shirts and shorts are good for soccer. While the full extent of the advantages hasn’t been fully understood just yet, the general consensus is that they are good for soccer players and other professional athletes.
A major study, published by the British Medical Journal, monitored the injury rates of soccer players over an 18-year period. The study found that injury incidences decreased by around 3% per season.
It took place from the 2000/01 season to the 2018/19 season, during a time when sports science began to increase in importance for major teams.
While this study doesn’t link directly to the wearing of compression gear, plenty more benefits have been found by scientists. The primary reasons soccer players wear compression shirts are:
Reduced Muscle Damage
During high-impact and explosive exercises, like jumping and sprinting, compression garments can reduce the impact on the muscles. Muscle damage is measured by a biomarker called creatine kinase (CK).
Tests have found that CK levels can be lowered when the athlete wears compression gear, like an undershirt.
The tight fit means muscle oscillations are lowered, also contributing to reduced fatigue. Other tests have shown a reduction in inflammation and swelling after a workout.
Improved Blood Circulation
Compression shirts and pants can increase the blood flow and lymphatic outflow, enhancing the body’s recovery process. This is believed to be due to the increased muscle coordination caused by the tight structure of the clothing.
Improved blood flow circulation ensures oxygen moves through the body continuously, keeping your muscles enriched.
Compression shirts are also used for injury rehabilitation. In fact, compression gear is most effective for muscle recovery after exercise has been completed.
Tight compression shirts or shorts can help the body release lactic acid from the muscles after intense exercise. This reduces inflammation and discomfort, making muscular injuries easier and quicker to recover from.
“Analysis of pooled data indicated that the use of compression garments had a moderate effect in reducing the severity of DOMS. These results indicate that compression garments are effective in enhancing recovery from muscle damage.”BMJ, 2014
Some soccer compression shirts help with regulating the temperature of the body. Although certain shirts are designed for hot weather, most temperature-related compression garments are intended to keep the wearer warm.
They are made with special insulating fabrics that retain heat when the body gets warm.
With cold weather compression shirts, once the upper body muscles are activated, the increased blood flow forces them to radiate heat. The insulating materials then ensure the heat is retained, keeping the body warm.
Heat is great for sore or stiff muscles. Insulated compression shirts are an effective injury prevention approach for soccer players during the winter months.
Many soccer players are extremely self-conscious about their looks. While most dress for performance when they’re on the field, some are very particular about their style.
Wearing compression gear beneath their uniforms is often a fashion choice for professionals. You often see them coordinate the color of their compression shirt with their team’s signature shade.
What Do Soccer Players Wear Under Their Shorts?
Most soccer players wear underwear, compression shorts, or both underneath their game-day shorts. For training sessions, some wear full-length compression tights, providing cover from the hip to the ankle.
While it’s uncommon, players are allowed to wear leggings or tights under their shorts in a game as long as they are the same color as their uniform.
In some cases, substitutes wear compression shorts or leggings while they are on the bench. This helps keep their muscles warm and prepped as they wait to come on.
Compression shorts often blend in underneath the regular uniform, making them hard to detect. However, they are very common across all levels of soccer.
Some players elect to wear compression underwear rather than shorts. Certain popular soccer brands create soccer-specific compression shorts with extra padding to protect high-impact areas.
Tights For Soccer Players
Compression tights offer the combined benefits of shorts and socks. They can improve recovery and reduce muscle soreness in both legs.
Since calf muscles are extremely important in soccer, tights are an excellent way to add extra support and circulation to this area of the body.
We see many players wearing compression tights during training, particularly in the winter months when the muscles are more susceptible to injury.
Compression Gear Buying Guide
Compression shirts and other garments are available from a variety of sources. Most major sports manufacturers manufacture high-quality shirts for soccer players.
However, there are also a number of viable medical-grade options. However, these are intended for injury recovery.
If you’re unsure about what type of compression gear you need, take a look at the levels of compression, which are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg):
|Mild||8 to 15||Before, during, and after soccer|
|Moderate||15 to 20||Before, during, and after soccer|
|Firm||20 to 30||Prescribed by a doctor for injury recovery|
|Extra-firm||30 to 40||Prescribed by a doctor for injury recovery|
Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.