This new section is consistent with our determination to improve the visibility of the work done in the R & D department at COMPRESSPORT® International. We will also focus on the scientific literature about the elastic compression or on the work done by other researchers in the field of Sports Science. Each time, the scientific approach will be accompanied by anecdotal reports of amateur and professional athletes.
Mechanisms underlying the application of compression clothing
We start this section with the mechanisms underlying the application of compression clothing. We briefly introduce the effects identified by the recent literature review of Born et al. (2013) and we will come back specifically to that in the next issues.
The graduated compression stockings or socks have been firstly used in the treatment of venous diseases. The principle is simple: the application of a pressure around the lower limb is transmitted to the veins, thus decreasing their diameter. By this decrease (such as a tube of toothpaste), the venous return to the heart is improved and the venous stasis is decreased. The application of compression stockings displays other hemodynamics effects, such as increased arterial inflow, and as a consequence, improved muscular oxygenation. In the same way, the increased blood circulation can facilitate the toxins elimination. Finally, the compression stockings also permits to reduce the leg swelling and associated pain that characterize the ‘heavy legs’ syndrome. We will see that these haemodynamic effects play a significant role particularly before the effort in preparation for the competition or the training and after that, to accelerate the recovery.
Other effects – mechanical, neuronal, thermal, etc.
The haemodynamic effects were the first to suggest the use of compression clothing in sports. Since then, many studies have showed other effects which reinforce the use of compression clothing, and especially during the effort. For example, the improved proprioception (by stimulating different receptors) or warm-up (by increasing muscle temperature) with compression sleeves can decreased the risk of injuries. Another key point of the compression during the effort is the decrease of the muscular oscillation, reflecting the vibrations generated by the impact with the ground. By this decrease, the compression limits the muscle damage, thereby reducing fatigue and preventing the delayed onset muscle soreness.
There are many effects which encourage the use of compression clothing in sports to improve performance and recovery or to decrease the risk of injuries. Some of them have a key role before or after the effort, and other during. As already noted, we will come back specifically to each one in the next issues. We will also see the importance of applying adjusted compression clothing: to the limb circumference, to the time moment but also to the sports activities.
Thanks and see you soon in the next issue!
1. Born DP, Sperlich B, and Holmberg HC. Bringing light into the dark: effects of compression clothing on performance and recovery. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 8: 4-18, 2013.
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
Testimonial of pro-athlete Frederik Van Lierde
Frederik Van Lierde is a Belgium professional triathlete and the current Ironman triathlon World Champion, in Hawaii – 2013. He finished the race with a 51:02 swim, a 4:25:37 bike and a 2:51:18 marathon to capture the win in total of 8:12:29.
1. Fred, how long have you been using compression clothing?
Since 2009, in fact after a stress fracture on my right calf.
2. How do you feel when you use the COMPRESSPORT® range before, during and after the effort and during your trips?
During trainings and competitions, I can feel for sure they help to absorb the shocks but also keeping the blood circulating. A very nice feeling, never cramping or sore, just perfect to me! And in hot conditions they can even keep my calf muscles cooler because of the protection (white) reflecting the sun. Some water on them, gives you a fresher feeling as well.
After races or on really hard training camps I use them a lot, especially the Full Legs. The best way to recover for me!
For trips, long rides or flights, it’s the best! Before I tend to have swollen legs a lot of times and since I use the COMPRESSPORT® Full Socks, my legs stay exactly the same after the trip compared to my legs before the trip.
3. Do you remember any race or training where the COMPRESSPORT® range has made a crucial difference (in terms of injuries, performance and or recovery)?
For sure in Hawaii Ironman, the hardest endurance race on this planet, in 2012 and 2013. Before 2012, I always wore the compression only on the marathon and the bike part without. Legs were a lot sorer then and muscles were warmer and suffered more because of the sun. In 2012 I decided, because of that, to put them on in T1 (transition swim to bike). So I rode the full 180km with + the marathon! What a difference: 3rd place at Hawaii in 2012 and now in 2013, Ironman World Champion!