The Role of Compression Gear on Running Performance
Compression gear is becoming increasingly popular amongst both competitive and recreational athletes of various sport specialties, such as basketball, cycling, and running. Compression garments apply mechanical pressure at the body surface, compressing and stabilizing underlying tissue. Graduated compression is used, which is strongest at the ankle and decreases going up the leg. This helps to promote blood circulation by improving the efficiency of the veins of the lower extremity. Based on the current available literature, we will investigate the role of compression socks for injury prevention, rehabilitation and improved performance in relation to running.
Compression socks assist in decreasing risk of injury while running by providing support and stabilization for your muscles and joints. This in turn produces fewer muscle vibrations and reduces micro damage to the muscle. A study conducted with military athletes reported reduced muscle oscillation during jump landing while running with use of full-leg compression clothing.
Another study conducted on 11 male athletes while performing a 400 m sprint reported improved blood lactate clearance (how quickly lactic acid is removed from your muscles) and a reduced perceived effort when wearing full-leg compression gear. Similar results were also reported amongst long distance endurance athletes with use of full-leg compression gear, as compared to a controlled condition of loose shorts.
In summary, there is evidence to support the following benefits with use of compression gear: attenuation of muscle oscillation, improved joint awareness and reduction in post-exercise muscle soreness. Additional research is needed to ascertain whether compression gear can also improve performance, since results have varied within the literature. Although performance results are inconclusive, why not test compression socks out for yourself and feel the added comfort and stabilization to your muscles and joints and improvement in recovery time!
Written by: Dr. Gianna Soncina, D.C