Compression therapy uses controlled pressure to increase blood flow in your legs and improve blood flow to the heart. At the same time, it supports your veins and reduces swelling. Compression stockings are the most common form of compression therapy and are said to have an effect on your sports performance.
Benefits of compression therapy
Compression therapy can help to:
- Limit lymphedema (swelling) and leg pain
- Promote wound healing, especially in canted mites
- Treat vein problems
- Prevent blood clots after surgery
- Promote athletic performance and post-workout recovery.
Compression stockings for athletes
Athletes often wear compression clothing during their athletic activities to support their legs. According to a 2014 article by a sports physiologist at the U.S. Olympic Committee Recovery Center in Colorado, compression therapy would help with recovery from sports performance without using ice or stretching.
A recent study (2021), which examined the injury pattern and sports history of 512 athletes, shows that:
- Almost all athletes who use compression stockings for ‘secondary injury prevention’ actually no longer suffer from recurring complaints.
- 80% of athletes who use the stockings for a faster recovery indicate that they regenerate significantly better after exercise.
- 70% of athletes who indicate that they wear stockings for performance improvement do indeed achieve better results.
- Runners who always wear compression stockings during training and competitions, and cover an average running distance of more than 23 km, saw significantly fewer sports injuries in the lower leg.
When to avoid
However, compression stockings are not for everyone. If you suffer from any of the following conditions, you should avoid compression therapy altogether or at least talk to your doctor first:
- a skin condition that makes the skin vulnerable
- open sores
- a leg shape or size that prevents you from wearing compression clothing safely
- severe peripheral neuropathy (condition caused by nerve damage or disease, affecting the nerves in the body)
- peripheral arterial disease (circulatory disorder)