Blog #4: Can Compression Increase Performance? by Chris Schattinger, MS(c), CSCS, CISSN

     In our previous blog post we learned that wearing compression pants can increase venous return and lower heart rate while standing. If more blood is being circulated back to the heart and out to the body one may assume this has potential to increase performance. Ali et al. (2011) sought to determine if compression socks increased 10km running performance in well trained runners. 12 male and female runners completed a vertical jump test prior to running for 10km at maximum effort and then performed another vertical jump test. Each participant completed this protocol five times once to be familiarized with the protocol and then four times to collect results. During each of the four trials a different level of pressure was utilized at the ankle and calf (compression socks were worn up to the knees). Control pressure was obviously 0mmHg, Low pressure was 15mmHg at the ankle and 12mmHg at the knee, Medium pressure was 21mmHg at the ankle and 18mmHg at the knee and High pressure was 32mmHg at the ankle and 23mmHg at the knee. Results showed no significant reduction in running time across all pressures when compared to Control. However, the authors did find that vertical jump height was increased from before to after the 10km run when the subjects wore the Low and Medium pressure socks (+3.4% and +4.9%) but decreased with Control and High pressure socks (-8.5% and -1.5%). These results reveal that wearing Low and Medium pressure compression socks helped to increase muscle power from the start to then end of a 10km. This could help distance runners to improve the kick at the end of a race, however the authors did not monitor speed at the end of the run so this warrants more research. This could also have implications in sports that combine running and jumping such as basketball, football and soccer. The authors note that their study utilized well trained competitive runners and this may account for the lack of reduction in running time as they noted that other studies with moderately trained runners did show a reduction. What did you think about this study? Let us know by leaving a comment! Who wants to hear more about how compression clothing could improve performance in the moderately trained? Let us know!


Link to Paper: