Last time, we have seen that wearing compression before an effort is based on the venous return improvement. It is also the first argument of many manufacturers to justify the use of compression stockings during running efforts. But to date, it is widely discussed … With COMPRESSPORT®, this debate does not exist! For a long time, we have understood that the benefits of the compression are elsewhere: focus on the reduction of the vibrations …
Compression and venous return: explanations …
Decreasing the veins diameter – like a pressure applied on a tube of toothpaste – wearing compression stockings at rest improves the venous blood return towards the heart. This improvement justifies the use of compression stockings before (feeling of light legs) and after the effort (faster removal of blood toxins). But during running efforts (from 4-5 km/h), the compression does not improve the venous return(3) … Really, it is already optimized: the calf muscles press sufficiently on the veins to increase the venous return!
The reduction of the vibrations to decrease muscle fatigue
Wearing compression during running efforts is mainly based on the reduction of the muscular oscillations (-33%), which reflect the vibrations caused by the impact with the ground. Decreasing these vibrations, the compression prevents the muscle damage (-42%) created by the repeated impacts during prolonged efforts (particularly in downhill)(1). As a result, the muscle fatigue is decreased. After the effort, the inflammatory process is reduced (-52%), which means that the delayed onset muscle soreness are prevented by using compression during the effort (1, 2).
COMPRESSPORT® is designed to optimize the reduction of the vibrations!
Vertical muscle vibrations (x) recorded with the COMPRESSPORT® R2 (MN 9_Compression), with a standard compression(MN 9_Short) or without compression (control condition). * : Significantly different from the control condition. : Significantly different from the standard compression.
That is for all these reasons that our compression garments for effort are not designed to improve the venous return but to optimize the reduction of the vibrations, while highlighting the comfort. For example, using a reverse gradient (low pressure at the ankle and high pressure at the calf), the COMPRESSPORT® R2 decreases more the muscle vibrations than a standard compression (medical gradient: high pressure at the ankle and low pressure at the calf).
The venous return improvement is often – wrongly – suggested to justify the use of compression garments during intense running efforts. Now, we are able to say with any certainty that wearing compression during running efforts is mainly based on the reduction of the vibrations!
- Borràs X, Balius X, Drobnic F, Til L, and Turmo A. Effects of lower body compression garment in muscle oscillation and tissular injury during intense exercise.Portuguese Journal of Sports Science 11: 685-688, 2011.
- Ménétrier A, Terrilon A, Caverot M, Mourot L, and Tordi N. Effects of elastic compression during and after the Trail des Forts of Besançon. Kinésithérapie, la Revue (in press).
- Murthy G, Ballard RE, Breit GA, Watenpaugh DE, and Hargens AR. Intramuscular pressures beneath elastic and inelastic leggings. Annals of Vascular Surgery 8: 543-548, 1994.
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