The Effects of Knee High Compression Garments and Ice on Exercise Performance and Recovery
Lea, John William D
Introduction: Compression garments (CGs) are becoming increasingly popular in many sports as they are believed to aid performance and recovery. Likewise the use of ice therapy is one of the most used recovery strategies by athletes and sports people. Purpose: The purpose of these studies was to examine the effect of CGs on physiological, biomechanical and perceptual measures of performance and recovery after 10 km running; and to assess the combined use of compression and ice on recovery post eccentric exercise. Method: Two separate studies were conducted; Phase 1 was a randomised control study in which thirteen recreationally competitive male 10 km runners (Age (median): 26 years (19-48 years), Height: 178 ± 5 cm, Mass: 76.2 ± 6.5 kg, V̇O2Max: 50 ± 5 ml.kg-1.min-1) undertook four 10 km runs. The interventions were; CON (no intervention), EX (CGs during run), REC (CGs for 12 hours post run) and EXREC (CGs during and 12 hours post run). During the runs heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), blood lactate and performance time were measured. Post run (24 hours) creatine kinase (CK), C-reactive protein (CRP), calf girths, and perceived pain were measured. A separate muscle oscillations test was also performed; where participants completed two 30 second runs at 12 km.h-1, wearing CGs (CG) and no CGs (CON). During the runs peak velocity, peak acceleration, average velocity and peak displacement of the calf muscle was measure using a 3D infrared camera system. Phase 2 was a randomised control study in which nine healthy male volunteers (Age (median): 23 years (20-27 years), Height: 178.7 ± 5.3 cm, Mass: 78.2 ± 14.4 kg) completed 3 trials: CON (no intervention), REC (CGs for 12 hours post run) and ICE (ice protocol and CGs for 12 hours post run). Each trial consisted of an eccentric muscle damage protocol followed by a 1 km time trial 48 hours post exercise. Perceptual measures of muscle pain, perceived ability and perceived recovery were measured at 24, 48 and 72 hours post eccentric exercise, with a questionnaire. Muscle damage (CK), calf girths and 1 km performance time were measured 48 hours post run. Results: Phase 1; there were no significant differences in 10 km run time, HR, RPE, lactate, CK, CRP, calf girths, perceived pain, peak or average calf muscle velocity, or peak acceleration of calf muscle with any application of CGs compared to the control (p > 0.05). During the muscle oscillation test a significant reduction in calf muscle displacement was found with CGs (p < 0.05). Phase 2; there were no significant differences in 1 km run performance, CK or calf girths, 48 hours post run (p < 0.05). There were inconsistent improvements in muscle pain, perceived recovery and perceived maximum ability in the REC and ICE trials compared to control (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Neither CGs nor ice had any physiological effects on performance or recovery. Compression reduced the displacement of the calf muscle during running, which could lead to increased efficiency over longer duration races such as marathons. Compression garments and ice improved some perceptual measures or recovery; however, these results were inconsistent and likely to represent a placebo effect.