By: Dr. Craig Crippen
Sport Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins
A new trend in athletics is the use of graduated compression garments on different parts of the body. The idea behind their use is that compression therapy will both increase athletic performance and decrease recovery time. This article will give an overview on the knowledge we have to date about this athletic and fashion trend.
Here are the touted benefits of using sport compression stockings:
1. Before Exercise
a. looks cool – no scientific studies on this but most people would agree.
2. During Exercise
a. increases venous return helps the body return blood to the heart after being used for exercise.
b. reduces buildup of muscle breakdown products and lactic acid less lactic acid and metabolic breakdown/anaerobic products in the blood would be a positive thing to increase stamina, performance and recovery time.
c. reduces injury due to muscle movement/shaking since muscles and tissues are designed to move around, it is unclear how this can help other than making the area feel tighter and firmer during exercise.
d. decreases muscle fat, this goes along with the reduced amounts of breakdown products in the blood, improved venous return.
e. increases athletic performance as a result of all of the above presumably the athlete who wears these sport compression stockings should hopefully get a boost in their performance and not just look better exercising.
3. After Exercise
a. quicker recovery and less muscle soreness .
While there are a long list of stated benefits we don’t have a lot of information to go on so far with this new trend. A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in May 2011 showed that Graduated Sport Compression Stockings (GCS) during a 10km time trial did not affect performance time. Another study in the same journal in January 2009 did however show increased running performance at the anaerobic threshold in patients using compression stockings.
There does appear to be some more conclusive information regarding delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in those patients who wear compression stockings during and after exercise report less leg soreness and a quicker recovery time. Also, patients who wear these stockings say they just feel better from having worn these stockings not only while exercising but hours to days later.
Other studies have also shown that compression therapy for the lower legs can lead to lower lactic acid and creatine kinase blood levels which would help explain quicker recovery times and less post-exercise soreness.
The jury still seems to be out on just how these stockings can help the average athlete but certainly there are some people who swear that they perform better while wearing them. The good news here is that the average to elite athlete wearing compression stockings, there seems to be no harm and it may actually be helpful. So if you’ve been curious to try them out, I say give them a shot and make your own mind up on the matter because in the end, if you like them and you feel they are a benefit to you and your athletic performance, that is all that matters.
Bio: Dr. Craig Crippen MD ABPh DPD was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario – the heart of Canada. In his years of study Dr. Crippen has attended three distinguished Canadian Universities and obtained four educational titles including his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Since graduating in 2001, Dr. Crippen has continued to expand his knowledge, specializing in the fields of Vein, Laser and Cosmetic Medicine.