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Wearing compression socks during exercise aids subsequent performance

      Abstract

      Objectives

      To assess the effect of wearing compression socks on immediate and subsequent 5 km running time trials, with particular attention to the influences on physiological, perceptual and performance-based parameters.

      Design

      Counter-balanced cross-over experiment.

      Methods

      Twelve male runners (mean ± SD 5 km run time 19:29 ± 1:18 min:s) each completed two experimental sessions. Sessions consisted of a standardised running warm-up, followed by a 5 km time trial (TT1), a one hour recovery period, then a repeat of the warm-up and 5 km time trial (TT2). One session required the use of sports compression socks during the first warm-up and time trial (COMP), while the other did not (CON).

      Results

      The decline in run performance in CON from TT1 to TT2 was moderate and significantly greater than that experienced by runners in COMP (9.6 s, d = 0.67, p < 0.01). No difference was found between experimental conditions for oxygen consumption, blood lactate or calf volume (p = 0.61, 0.54, 0.64, respectively). Perceptual measures of muscle soreness, fatigue and recovery were also similar between trials (p = 0.56, 1.00 & 0.61, respectively).

      Conclusions

      Wearing sports compression socks during high intensity running has a positive impact on subsequent running performance. The underlying mechanism of such performance enhancement remains unclear, but may relate to improved oxygen delivery, reduced muscle oscillation, superior running mechanics and athlete beliefs.

      Abbreviations:

      COMP (compression condition), CON (control condition), CSA (cross-sectional area), RPE (rating of perceived exertion), TQR (Total Quality Recovery scale), TT (time trial)

      Keywords

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