As promised last time, we are focusing on the effects of the compression in sports and more particularly in preparation of effort. In this context, the use of compression garments (socks and stockings) is based on the improvement of the venous return. Explanations …
The improvement of the venous return with compression garments
In standing position, gravity causes the accumulation of blood in the legs. To allow the return of blood from the lower extremities to the heart, the veins are used and several mechanisms are involved. At the foot, a small quantity of blood is pushed at each step to the calf. Then the calf muscles act like a pump. When the muscles relax the veins are filled with blood and during the contraction the blood is pushed towards the heart. Finally, one-way valves prevent the blood to go down.In case of failure or in absence of calf contraction, the blood will stagnate in the legs causing swelling with associated pain and discomfort. It is there that the compression may act …Indeed, the pressure applied by the compression on the legs decreases the veins diameter – like a pressure applied on a tube of toothpaste. In consequence, the venous return is improved and the swelling is reduced.
A feeling of light and fresh legs before starting exercises!
Often, achieving a major competition is far away from home. Preparations, travel or cultural visits before race cause the sportsman to stomp or extend passive position. All these activities will lead to leg swelling and associated pain which characterizes “heavy legs” syndrome. Who never felt a sensation of heavy legs before running? Decreasing or preventing swelling of the lower limbs (from 50 to 100 %), wearing elastic compression in preparation for exercise, may ensure for the athletes a feeling of light legs … Ready to perform! From a sensory point of view, the pain and discomfort are reduced by wearing compression garments, especially in plane or in train or by exposure to heat.
To improve the venous return, it is necessary to apply a higher pressure at the ankle: we press at the bottom of the tube of toothpaste … The compression around the foot is also crucial. The COMPRESSPORT® Full Socks include all these parameters and appear like the ideal socks in preparation of effort. The COMPRESSPORT®t Smart Socks apply a lower pressure: somewhat less effective but more comfortable for prolonged duration (in travel by plane or train: it is the best solution!). Finally, the COMPRESSPORT® R2 can be used in active conditions (walking or seated for short periods).
Main advantages of compression
1. ↑ venous return and lymphatic drainage
2. ↓ swelling of the legs (from -50 to -100 %)
3. ↓ associated pain and discomfort
4. Feeling of light and fresh legs
Passive preparation (plane, train, car)
Active preparation (walking, seated for short periods)
- Horner J, Fernandes J, Fernandes E, and Nicolaides AN. Value of graduated compression stockings in deep venous insufficiency. British Medical Journal 280: 820-821, 1980.
- Partsch H, Winiger J, and Lun B. Compression stockings reduce occupational leg swelling. Dermatology Surgery 30: 737-743, 2004.
About the Author
Dr. Arnaud M. comes from Besançon in France. He has a PhD in Life and Health Sciences and works at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon (EA 3920, Exercise Performance Health Innovation Laboratory). Arnaud is also the Scientist Manager for COMPRESSPORT® International. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Testimony of Fernanda Maciel
1. Firstly, congratulations for your excellent 2nd place at the Transgrancanaria 2014! During this race, you were wearing COMPRESSPORT® Full Socks V2. Why did you chose to wear them instead of classic COMPRESSPORT® R2 Race and Recovery?
Because I twisted my ankle last year and during my long Ultras I’ve been doing a sort of “boot” with tape (esparadrapo) to make sure that I can keep my ankle stable. In this case, long and very technical race, I prefer to use the FSV2 because get in and fit better with the tape/boot than the R2. If I’m not making this “tape” for my ankle, I still prefer to use the R2. Both are amazing products of compression and help me a lot to run and not to have problems with my calves and tibial muscle and tendons.
2. We know that you almost always wear compression garments during the effort but do you use them in other circumstances ? (Before the effort, after the effort, during plane trip…)
Yes, I’ve used them almost all time. The best way that work for me is: R2 or Full socks V2 plus the Trail Running Short during my trainings, after the training I use the Underwear or the Full Leg to recover well and to make sure that I get fresh legs for my next trainings day. Sometimes I also sleep with the Underwear and the Full Socks V2.
3. Could you give some advices to our readers on how to wear compression garments before the race start?
COMPRESSPORT® gives us many options of products to keep our muscle and tendons saved and rested before a race. The best option that I like to use before a race can be: Full Leg and a Pro Racing Bike or Run V2 socks. Then you know that you can be walking around or just sit down on the sofa reading a book to be ready for the next day.