by Katherine “Kathy” Tsobanoudis, PT, MPT
October, 2013

When walking, jogging or even sitting on the couch watching almost any sport on TV, you see all level of athletes wearing compression garments (CG). What are those for? Do they actually do something or are they just a fashion statement? Can they really make my performance better? Will my muscles recover faster? Well researchers are trying to answer these same questions.

The theory behind wearing a compression stocking, sleeve, or full body garment during athletic activities stems from the use of compression garments for the treatment of edema, excessive fluid build-up in body. Fluid pooling in any area of the body can cause increased pain, decreased joint mobility and impede tissue healing.1

Researchers are looking more closely at the affect on the cardiovascular and metabolic responses with the addition of the CG during exercise. In an article by Coza, comparing gastrocnemius muscle oxygenation during short-term movement exercises showed a positive correlation between tissue blood flow and muscle oxygenation with the addition of CG.2 The subjects however did not show a significant change in their muscle energy output. The authors concluded that the use of CG increased hemoglobin oxygen saturation and has a positive influence for muscles since muscles rely on oxygen as a key component to functioning. This is important to note if you are trying to bound up a hill or across a court and you are feeling your calf muscles tighten. Supplying those tissues with more oxygen would have a positive impact.

Interestingly two other articles looked at CG’s ability to aid in the recovery period following high-intensity sprint and plyometric workout. Duffield, found that there was no significant differences with the maximum power, sprinting or the jumping data that was collected. They compared multiple variables including blood samples (lactate, pH, CK, AST, C-RP), heart rate and perceived exertion (RPE). The only variable that showed positive effects from wearing the CG’s was the level of muscle soreness reported by the participant, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).3,4
Most promising from the published research is a meta-analysis that compiles findings of 12 studies. These studies evaluate DOMS, muscular strength, muscular power and creatine kinase (CK) with the use of CG’s. Variables were measured at 1, 2, and 3 days post-exercise and indicated CG’s are moderately “effective in enhancing recovery from muscle damage.”5

So if you are wondering what all of this means or what the take home message is, do what feels comfortable for you. There is support to show that CG’s will help in decreasing muscle soreness. However, the reason why most athletes wear these articles of clothing ultimately is to improve their performance. This area of the research has yet to produce consistently positive results.6 The measures that would indicate direct improvements in performance such as sprint speed, height jumped, extending time to exhaustion (VO2max) have not yet been produced.7 The ability to cut down on the soreness maybe all you are looking for then using one of the forms of compression garments could be right for you.

Im a military who was injured during a war and have my leg amputated. The doctor advised me Valium at https://www.opaortho.com/valium-treatment-anxiety/ against anxiety and muscle spasms. I take Valium twice a day and it really calms me and I start thinking positively about life and future. It is really hard to admit my present situation, that I`m no more a complete human being, but anyway the Valium (Diazepam) helps me relax and think about organizing my future plans.

More important than a new article of clothing for your sport, is the systematic evaluation and individualized strengthening program that would be created for you at BreakThrough Physical Therapy, Inc. Our team of physical therapists will help devise of program that will allow you to get back to the sport you enjoy or get you to your next tier of performance.

Kathy Tsobanoudis, PT, MSPT has been practicing physical therapy since early 2010 in sub-acute and outpatient settings. She enjoys watching a variety of sports, jogging, cycling, playing volleyball and found the recent influx of compression garments interesting. Kathy found the research articles to be very informative and clarified the effectiveness of compression garments.


1. Cameron, M.H., Physical Agents in Rehabilitation: From Research to Practice. Compression: 341-368.
2. Coza A, DunnJF, Anderson B, Nigg BM. Effects of compression on muscle tissue oxygenation at the onset of exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jun; 26(6):1631-7.
3. Duffield R, Cannon J, King M. The effects of compression garments on recovery of muscle performance followign high-intensity sprint and plyometric exercise. J Sci Med Sport. 2010 Jan; 13(1):136-40.
4. Duffield R, Edge J, Merrells R, Hawke E, Barnes M, Simcock D, Gill N. The effects of compression garmetns on intermittent exercise performance and recovery on consecutive days. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2008 Dec; 3(4):454-68.
5. Hill J, Howatson G, van Someren K, Leeder J, Pedlar C. Compression garments and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: a meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2013 Jun 20. [Epub ahead of print] 6. Davies V, Thompson KG, Cooper SM. The effects of compression garments on recovery. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep;23(6):1786-94
7. MacRae BA, Cotter JD, Laing RM. Compression garments and exercise. Sports Med. 2011 Oct; 41(10):815-43.

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