Compression garments are quickly becoming very popular for both gym users and athletes alike, for aesthetics, comfort and also their aid in recovery. For the athlete, the crucial point is that compression garments can help them to recover much quicker from their activities, thus promoting better performance. It has been identified that compression garments can help to improve the awareness of joints, blood flow, removal of waste products, better running economy, reduce swelling quickly, decrease muscle soreness after exercise and reduce muscle oscillations. At the same time, they do not appear to have any negative impact on performance.
Intensive periods of training and competitions can cause damage to the muscles, leading to a condition known as DOMS – Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (1). Because of this, techniques to encourage and enhance recovery are growing fast, and compression garments are now leading the way (2).
Improve performance and recovery time based on the following:
When compression is applied to certain parts of the body, provided it is accurate and balanced, the blood flow is accelerated. This provides your working muscles with an increase in oxygen, and that, in turn, boosts your performance. Improvements in blood flow also help the body to remove lactic acid, along with other metabolic waste and this allows you to work at a higher level of performance for longer. Finally, more oxygen in the blood decreases the effects of DOMS and speeds up the repair process of your muscles.
NormaTec is the number one provider of rapid recovery systems (5), and they use a different method of compression. With their systems, they aim to put recovery at the heart of training for athletes and, to that end, have developed the PULSE Recovery system. This is a dynamic device that is designed to aid recovery and rehabilitation post-exercise and consists of a control unit with attachments that go on the hips, the arms or the legs. These systems use compressed air, which massages the limbs, get fluids mobilized and speed up recovery using a Pulse Massage Pattern.
This pattern involves three techniques:
Pulsing – Rather than using standard compression techniques of squeezing, which is known as static compression, pulsing mimics how the muscles pump your arms and legs, getting fluids moving, as well as metabolites, out of your limbs post-workout.
Gradients – Lymphatic vessels and veins have got one-way valves in them that stop backflow of fluid. In the same way, the NormaTec Pulse technology utilizes holding pressures that stop the fluids from being forced to go the wrong way. Rather than the pressure tapering off, this system delivers the maximum amount of pressure to each zone.
Distal Release – Many compression technologies use static compression, and this can interfere with the normal flow of your circulation system. NormaTec uses Sequential Pulse technology, and this will release the holding pressures as soon as they are not needed, thus aiding in the prevention of backflow. When the hold pressure is released in each zone as quick as possible, the limbs get the maximum amount of rest time without any long pauses between the compression cycles.