Recovery in Football – Part 2: Compression Garments
Another commercially available tool we could be using are compression garments, skin-tight clothes often worn during gym sessions (presumably for their aesthetic appeal). These garments create a pressure gradient – higher pressure at the ankles decreasing up the leg - to aid the return of blood to act as a flush of the muscles. The compression on the legs can also give the perception of ongoing recovery (nothing wrong with a placebo effect).
The research on these is inconclusive, however one study by Hill (2013) has shown some very positive evidence advocating their use. Many studies have shown positive effects on DOMS; Hill’s meta-analysis of the current literature has now also backed this up by suggesting there could be a physiological aid to the recovery process. They noted that the use of compression garments post-exercise can lead to:
- Reduced DOMS – feelings of soreness were significantly reduced
- Quicker restoration of muscle function – Muscular strength and power levels recovered at a faster rate
- Markers of muscle damage were reduced – Concentrations of Creatine Kinase (a common indicator of muscle damage) were significantly less. Possibly due to enhanced repair of damaged muscle or increased clearance of metabolites.
These effects were noted in at least 2/3 studies pooled in the meta-analysis. A key take home message that pretty much all studies have shown - NO NEGATIVE EFFECTS.
The types of compression garments available varies from leggings to socks to calf sleeves and there are plenty of brands out there. Common sense would suggest that leggings would offer the biggest contribution to recovery given the greater muscle volume affected. Evidence would suggest they are a worthy investment and in my experience, a good pair will last a good while (mine get some regular and much needed use) and you often get what you pay for.
- A worthwhile tool to aid recovery after exercise
- Opt for leggings over socks or sleeves to get biggest “bang for your buck”
- Wear for as long as is comfortable after exercise – overnight whilst sleeping is a sensible idea
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Hill, J., Howatson, G., Van Someren, K., Leeder, J. and Pedlar, C., 2013. Compression garments and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: a meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med, pp.bjsports-2013.