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Compression stockings: yes or no? During the race or after?

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

Compression stockings are one of the items most commonly used by athletes during endurance tests. However, their beneficial effects appear to be greater when used as a means of recovery, and not with the aim of increasing running performance. 

Are we doing it the other way around?

Compression stockings: yes or no? During the race or after?

The evidence so far does not show an association between the use of compression stockings during the race and improving performance during it. That is why its use when we go running may not be useful, although it will always depend on the sensations of the runner.

But if you already have compression stockings, or have thought about getting some, they can be useful for recovery after exercise. Instead of using them during the race, it may be more interesting to do it afterward, to improve the hemodynamics (venous return) that this compression generates, and to reduce late muscle pain (stiffness).

That is the conclusion of research recently published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. In it, a protocol was carried out that compared how the performance would be after recovering with compression stockings, or without them.

In the first place, two groups of cyclists were subjected to strenuous bicycle training: an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group after this training used compression garments for one hour, while the control group did not use compression tights.

After completing that hour of rest with or without compression stockings, perform a five-minute test at maximum intensity to compare how both groups had recovered, and evaluate if the compression garments helped a better recovery, and therefore, to higher performance in that final five-minute test at maximum intensity.

The results showed that the group that used the compression stockings performed better after recovery. They also showed improvements in some aspects of hemodynamics and biomarkers, which resulted in having less heaviness and stiffness the next day.

Practical application

If you are comfortable wearing compression stockings during exercise, you can continue to do so without major problems. According to scientific evidence, it may not be a useful accessory to improve performance during running, but it will not worsen performance either. So it becomes a personal choice.

However, it is preferable to use compression garments after exercise, as a recovery tool, to improve aspects of venous return, cardiac output, lactic acid clearance, and less late muscle pain (stiffness). Especially in athletes with a high level and who compete or train several times a day.

Image Credit: iStock

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