Compression Garments in Sports: Athletic Performance and Recovery Edited by Florian Engel, Billy Sperlich


Compression Garments in Sports: Athletic Performance and Recovery
Edited by Florian Engel, Billy Sperlich

Compression Garments in Sports

General Considerations for Compression Garments in Sports:
Applied Pressures and Body Coverage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Braid A. MacRae, Raechel M. Laing and Hugo Partsch
Effects of Compression Garments on Performance
and Recovery in Endurance Athletes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Florian Engel, Christian Stockinger, Alexander Woll
and Billy Sperlich
Effects of Compression Garments in Strength, Power
and Speed Based Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Rob Duffield and Judd Kalkhoven
Compression Garments and Performance Enhancement
in Balance and Precision Tasks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Lars Donath and Oliver Faude
Compression Garments and Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
Jessica Hill

General Considerations for Compression Garments in Sports: Applied Pressures and Body Coverage
Braid A. MacRae, Raechel M. Laing and Hugo Partsch

Abstract Compression garments are popular among competitive and recreational athletes alike. The debate about the efficacy of compression garments in sport is similarly popular, spanning the scientific literature, public press, social media, and the sports field itself. In this chapter we aim to assist both researchers and the general reader by discussing the core elements of the compression garment story. First, we consider compression—the applied pressures and factors influencing those pressures. Knowing the applied pressures in vivo and characteristics of the pressures during use are important for building a clearer idea about what aspects of sports performance and recovery are affected by compression garments and why. Second, we consider garments—that, like other clothing, compression garments cover and interact with the body, establish a microenvironment, and influence variables such as heat and moisture exchanges. Understanding characteristics of the garments themselves can be useful for aiding interpretation of certain physiological and psychological effects, including heat balance, comfort, and wearer acceptability. We hope that the detail here helps the reader to contextualise and critically evaluate research on compression garments in sport.

Compression garments have been widely adopted for use in sporting contexts. The types of garments available vary and include those that cover the torso and the arms in full or part, the lower-body from the waist in full or part, and those that cover specific limb-segments only (e.g. sleeves, socks, and stockings). While the type of garments used and the time of wearing them can vary by sport, personal preference, and intended purpose, a common feature is that all compression garments apply pressure to and cover body surfaces. These two components—applied pressures and body coverage—are the focus of this chapter.

Applied pressures. A fundamental assumption underpinning compression garment use is that the pressures applied to the body are important in some way. During use, these pressures can be influenced by garment properties (e.g. garment dimensions, garment construction, properties of the constituent fabrics and how these change over time) and characteristics of the underlying body segment (e.g. body dimensions, tissue type, and changes related to posture and movement). Irrespective of whether specific pressures, a general range of pressures, or simply some pressure is ultimately required for a particular outcome, actually knowing what those pressures are and the characteristics during use are essential for integrating and interpreting the literature and making useful recommendations for athletes.

Body coverage. Considerations about compression garments from the perspective of a layer of clothing that covers the body are introduced. Here, we include information that attempts to bridge the sport sciences with some of the wider clothing and textile sciences.

Pressure and coverage characteristics
Since early studies in sporting contexts (e.g. Berry and McMurray 1987; Carling et al. 1995; Kraemer et al. 1996, 1998a, b), a considerable body of research has accumulated investigating various applications (during sport, during recovery) and types of compression garments (different applied pressures and body sites covered). For the purpose of gauging the status of aspects relating to pressures and body coverage in the sport sciences, we characterised the literature from a *5-year period (2011–Jan 2016; Table 1). (Note that this search period applies only for the data presented in Table 1, not for the chapter as a whole.) Over this period, 78 % of studies investigated effects during exercise, and 29 % during recovery from exercise. Lower limb compression has been the most common with 81 % of studies including the leg (calf) and 48 % including the thigh, while comparatively few have investigated upper-body effects (<16 % for each torso, upper arm, and forearm; Table 1). While the applied pressures were often reported, these pressures were measured only in approximately one of every three studies.

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