PURPOSE: This study aimed at investigating the effectiveness of compression stockings to prevent muscular damage and preserve muscular performance during a half-ironman triathlon.
METHODS: Thirty-six experienced triathletes volunteered for this study. Participants were matched for age, anthropometric data and training status and placed into the experimental group (N = 19; using ankle-to-knee graduated compression stockings) or control group (N = 17; using regular socks). Participants competed in a half-ironman triathlon celebrated at 29 ± 3 °C and 73 ± 8 % of relative humidity. Race time was measured by means of chip timing. Pre- and post-race, maximal height and leg muscle power were measured during a countermovement jump. At the same time, blood myoglobin and creatine kinase concentrations were determined and the triathletes were asked for perceived exertion and muscle soreness using validated scales.
RESULTS: Total race time was not different between groups (315 ± 45 for the control group and 310 ± 32 min for the experimental group; P = 0.46). After the race, jump height (-8.5 ± 3.0 versus -9.2 ± 5.3 %; P = 0.47) and leg muscle power reductions (-13 ± 10 versus -15 ± 10 %; P = 0.72) were similar between groups. Post-race myoglobin and creatine kinase concentrations were not different between groups. Perceived muscle soreness (5.3 ± 2.1 versus 6.0 ± 2.0 arbitrary units; P = 0.42) and the rating of perceived effort (17 ± 2 versus 17 ± 2 arbitrary units; P = 0.58) were not different between groups after the race.
CONCLUSION: Wearing compression stockings did not represent any advantage for maintaining muscle function or reducing blood markers of muscle damage during a triathlon event.
Vercruyssen et al. The influence of wearing compression stockings on performance indicators and physiological responses following a prolonged trail running exercise. Eur J Sport Sci. 2014,14(2):144-50.
The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of wearing compression socks (CS) on performance indicators and physiological responses during prolonged trail running. Eleven trained runners completed a 15.6 km trail run at a competition intensity whilst wearing or not wearing CS. Counter movement jump, maximal voluntary contraction and the oxygenation profile of vastus lateralis muscle using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) method were measured before and following exercise. Run time, heart rate (HR), blood lactate concentration and ratings of perceived exertion were evaluated during the CS and non-CS sessions. No significant difference in any dependent variables was observed during the run sessions. Run times were 5681.1±503.5 and 5696.7±530.7 s for the non-CS and CS conditions, respectively. The relative intensity during CS and non-CS runs corresponded to a range of 90.5-91.5% HRmax.
Although NIRS measurements such as muscle oxygen uptake and muscle blood flow significantly increased following exercise (+57.7% and + 42.6%,+59.2% and + 32.4%, respectively for the CS and non-CS sessions, P<0.05), there was no difference between the run conditions.
The findings suggest that competitive runners do not gain any practical or physiological benefits from wearing CS during prolonged off-road running.
Bieuzen et al. Effect of wearing compression stockings on recovery after mild exercise-induced muscle damage. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014, 9(2):256-64.
Background: Compression garments are increasingly popular in long-distance running events where they are used to limit cumulative fatigue and symptoms associated with mild exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). However, the effective benefits remain unclear.
Objective: This study examined the effect of wearing compression stockings (CS) on EIMD indicators. Compression was applied during or after simulated trail races performed at competition pace in experienced off-road runners.
Methods: Eleven highly trained male runners participated in 3 simulated trail races (15.6 km: uphill section 6.6 km, average gradient 13%, and downhill section 9.0 km, average gradient -9%) in a randomized crossover trial. The effect of wearing CS while running or during recovery was tested and compared with a control condition (ie, run and recovery without CS; non-CS). Indicators of muscle function, muscle damage (creatine kinase; CK), inflammation (interleukin-6; IL-6), and perceived muscle soreness were recorded at baseline (1 h before warm-up) and 1, 24, and 48 h after the run.
Results: Perceived muscle soreness was likely to be lower when participants wore CS during trail running compared with the control condition (1 h postrun, 82% chance; 24 h postrun, 80% chance). A likely or possibly beneficial effect of wearing CS during running was also found for isometric peak torque at 1 h postrun (70% chance) and 24 h postrun (60% chance) and throughout the recovery period on countermovement jump, compared with non-CS. Possible, trivial, or unclear differences were observed for CK and IL-6 between all conditions.
Conclusion: Wearing CS during simulated trail races mainly affects perceived leg soreness and muscle function. These benefits are visible very shortly after the start of the recovery period.