Effects of compression garments in strength, power and speed based exercise

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Compression Garments in Sports: Athletic Performance and Recovery, 2016, pp. 63 - 78
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. All rights reserved. Compression apparel is a popular method to aid sports performance and recovery. The ubiquitous nature of compression garments in sport attests to their popularity with athletes. In particular, use of compression clothing is evident in a range of strength and power focused sports. Regardless of their popularity, a growing theme of research in this area highlights the mixed, if not neutral, effects of compression garments on athletic performance and recovery. In part such conclusions stem from the diverse nature of research projects and exercise modes utilised. Thus a more detailed focus of the effects of compression apparel on specific physical capacities is warranted. This chapter will respectively discuss the effects of compression garments on strength, power and repeated-effort exercise. Further, hypothesised mechanisms for the improvement, or lack thereof, in performance indices will be provided. The findings of this discussion will suggest that the use of compression garments show mixed, if not minimal, benefits for exercise performance for prolonged repeat-sprint athletes. However, some small benefits for maximal strength or peak power movements may be evident. Furthermore, whilst compression garments show minimal recovery benefits, some evidence for small improvements in muscle damage marker clearance may exist. Despite the limited evidence for improved performance, compression garments seem beneficial for the reduction of muscle oscillation and perception of reduced exercise-induced muscle soreness (possibly resulting from a placebo effect). Accordingly, the addition of compression garments may be warranted to assist in the perceived readiness of an athlete to train or compete.
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