The Influence of Sports Compression Garments on Blood Flow and Post-Exercise Muscle Recovery

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O’Riordan, Shane F (2021) The Influence of Sports Compression Garments on Blood Flow and Post-Exercise Muscle Recovery. PhD thesis, Victoria University.

Abstract

Sports compression garments (SCG) are commonly used in athletic applications to improve recovery from exercise. Although the underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood, they may be closely associated with alterations in blood flow, consistent with that reported in therapeutic medicine. As such, SCG have been implicated in increasing venous and muscle blood flow, and subsequently reducing symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). However, research investigating the effects of SCG on blood flow, particularly during the post-exercise period, is limited. Chapter 2 systematically reviewed and analysed the effects of SCG on peripheral measures of blood flow (i.e., venous and muscle blood flow) at rest, during, immediately post, and in recovery from a physiological challenge. From the 19 studies included in this meta-analysis, SCG appear to enhance venous and arterial measures of peripheral blood flow during and in the recovery of a physiological challenge. Also, this chapter highlighted that further research should aim to address the limitations of current compression research by reporting the pressure of the SCG, the blinding of participants, and assessing changes in blood flow during recovery. The first experimental study of this thesis (Chapter 3) aimed to comprehensively investigate the effects of three different SCG types (socks, shorts, and tights) on resting markers of venous return, muscle blood flow and muscle oxygenation. Although sports compression tights were the most effective garment, all SCG types positively affected lower- limb blood flow. Thus, SCG may be a practical strategy for augmenting blood flow in the lower limbs at rest. The next study of this thesis (Chapter 4) aimed to investigate the effects of SCG on blood flow post-eccentric resistance exercise, and the influence on aspects of muscle recovery. This study also aimed to determine if the placebo effect is responsible for the improved exercise recovery associated with SCG use post-exercise. This was achieved by incorporating a placebo intervention that participants were informed was as effective as SCG for recovery and matching belief between the SCG and placebo conditions. Compression tights used post-exercise appear to increase blood flow and enhance psychological and performance indices of exercise recovery compared to both placebo and control conditions. These findings highlight that the benefits of SCG are likely not due to a placebo effect. The final study of this thesis (Chapter 5) investigated the effects of SCG on skeletal muscle microvascular blood flow by using contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEU), a novel technique in compression research. In addition, macrovascular blood flow (i.e., femoral artery), muscle oxygenation, and exercise performance were measured before, during, and following repeated-sprint exercise (RSE). Compression tights attenuated muscle microvascular blood flow following exercise, but a divergent increase in femoral artery blood flow was also observed. However, despite these compression-induced alterations in macro and microvascular blood flow, there was no difference in exercise performance with SCG. Based on this thesis's findings, SCG appear to benefit macrovascular blood flow, with a divergent effect on microvascular blood flow. Also, compression-induced increases in blood flow for up to 4 h post-resistance exercise coincided with improved muscle recovery.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/42973
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4207 Sports science and exercise
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords sports compression garments; socks; shorts; tights; blood flow; muscle recovery; exercise; venous return; muscle damage; muscle oedema
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