Does Compression Clothing Work? Maybe...

So far we've seen one review which found evidence for some performance increases from using compression garments and then last week we looked at three studies which concluded that there were no benefits. This week, we'll examine the middle ground to see if it can shed any more light on the matter.

 

Compression garments and exercise: garment considerations, physiology and performance.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21923201

 

 This study notes that there are too many variables which which make it very difficult to assess compression wear in a fully standardised manner. Variables which include manufacturer’s sizing system, the pressure which garments exert among individuals, the sustained pressure applied by the garments in one session and how long the compression wear can continue to apply the same pressure over their lifetime. The study also shares concerns that it’s difficult to establish whether any of the above even have any actual effect on compression associated benefits.

 Last weeks findings are reinforced here, where three separate studies found that there were very few, if any, benefits to physical performance attributed to compression wear. There were some isolated indications that compression wear could reduce muscle oscillation, improve joint awareness, alter oxygen usage at sub-maximal levels, and effect of blood supply to muscles. Again, it found that there were no benefits at maximum exertion.

 The Authors also looked at the use of compression gear for recovery and again found limited benefits. It appears that strength athletes have occasionally benefited from using compression gear in recovery but there were no such effects for sprint and agility athletes.

strength athletes have occasionally benefited from using compression gear in recovery

 Results were also inconsistent for post-exercise swelling of limb segments and for clearance of waste products from muscles, while effects on plasma concentrations were too difficult to interpret effectively. However, there was some evidence to show blood supply to the muscle was improved.

 The Authors conclude that while there may be some benefits to performance attributed to compression wear, evidence was inconclusive and that more work was necessary in order to form a consensus and to determine accurately how compression actually affects the body for fitness development.


Comparison of three types of full-body compression garments on throwing and repeat-sprint performance in cricket players.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17341589


 This study examined the performance of three brands (Skins, Adidas and Under Armour) full body compression wear on 10 male cricket players and any effects on sprinting and throwing .

 The players performed across four randomised exercise sessions (sorted by manufacturer and a placebo.) Each session performed a 30 min repeat-sprint exercise protocol comprising 20m sprints every minute, separated by sub-maximal exercises. Throwing tests were performed before and after exercise and distance and accuracy was measured for.

 During each session heart rate, skin temperature, changes in body mass, blood chemistry and subjective data on perceived exertion and muscle soreness were recorded.

 No benefit was found (across all three brands) when wearing compression garments for repeat-sprint or throwing performance. However there may be some benefits to using full body compression for post exercise recovery although this wasn't specified in the Abstract.

 

Comparison of three types of full-body compression garments on throwing and repeat-sprint performance in cricket players

 

The maybe camp seem to suggest that any benefit derived from wearing compression clothing would be for post exercise recovery although the science behind it isn't concrete.

 

Join us again next Monday at 1230 where we conclude this mini-series and try to make sense of the data which we'eve collected. 

 

Tags: FAQ, Guide, Science

Author

Lester Lee

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