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Compression Boots – What They Are and Why You Need Them

Whether you’re an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or someone who values their health and well-being, chances are you’re familiar with compression boots.

These boots have become increasingly popular in the health and fitness industry, as they claim to offer a range of benefits for your performance and recovery.

But what are compression boots exactly? How do they work? And are they worth the hype? Continue reading to know!

What Are Compression Boots and How Do They Work?

Compression boots are medical devices that utilise intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) to apply pressure at different points on the legs, thereby improving blood flow. 

They consist of inflatable sleeves that cover the entire leg, from the foot to the thigh, and are connected to a control pump that regulates the amount and duration of pressure.

Working Principle

The working principle of compression boots is based on IPC’s mechanical and biochemical effects on the body. 

When the sleeves of the boots are inflated, they compress the veins in the legs and empty them of blood. This compression helps to propel the stagnant venous blood and lymphatic fluid back into regular circulation. As a result, the sleeves create a pulsatile flow forward, leading to improved blood drainage at the compression site.

The mechanical effects of IPC on the body involve the application of shear stress and strain on the endothelium, which is the internal lining of the blood vessels. This compression stimulates the release of various molecules, such as prostaglandins, nitro vasodilators, lipoxygenases, hyperpolarising factors, and growth factors. These molecules play crucial roles in regulating blood pressure, thickness, and circulation. The continuous external compression applied by compression boots induces a progressive and constant blood flow into the deep veins. The pressure gradients created during compression cause the collapse of the veins’ lumen, resulting in venous emptying and preventing stasis (the stagnation of blood) and the formation of blood clots.

In addition to the mechanical effects, IPC devices have biochemical effects on the body. The compression and dilation caused by IPC activate biochemical mechanisms that contribute to the device’s antithrombotic (preventing clot formation), fibrinolytic (promoting the breakdown of blood clots), and vasodilatory (expanding blood vessels) properties which prevent heart and clotting-related issues. 

Benefits of Compression Boots for Athletes

Compression boots benefit athletes, especially those with intense training or endurance events. 

According to research, compression boots:

  1. Reduces muscle stress and soreness

Compression boots promote proper blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles, which help them function better and reduce fatigue. They reduce post-workout muscle soreness by circulating metabolic waste and enhancing lymphatic drainage, which allows the muscles to heal faster and prevent stiffness.

  1. Reduce the chance of injury

Compression boots improve muscle healing and function by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery, which can help the muscles to repair faster and prevent injuries. They also enhance recovery and reduce the risk of overuse injuries by decreasing inflammation and swelling, which can impede circulation and slow down healing.

  1. Improve range of motion and flexibility

Compression boots facilitate better movement patterns and performance by increasing flexibility and reducing muscle tension, which can help athletes perform at their optimal level.

  1. Decrease recovery time

These boots help muscles recover better between workouts by lowering inflammation and swelling, allowing them to relax and prepare for the next challenge.

  1. Provide support and stability 

Compression boots support and stabilise the feet and ankles, which prevents injuries and enhances performance. They stabilise the joints and ligaments, which lowers the risk of sprains, strains, and fractures. They also align the foot and ankle, which improves biomechanics and movement efficiency. 

  1. Provide relaxation and massage

They provide a relaxing and soothing sensation, similar to a massage, which reduces stress and improves mood. They stimulate the release of endorphins, natural painkillers, and mood boosters, which relieve pain and enhance well-being. This is especially beneficial for athletes who undergo intense physical and mental stress during training and competition. By using compression boots, they can recover faster, perform better, and prevent injuries. 

  1. Help in warm-up

Compression boots for 10 minutes have been shown to increase muscle oxygen, providing an efficient warm-up at a low metabolic cost.

  1.  Aid in Rehab

Compression aids in the healing process by promoting blood flow, reducing swelling, and relieving pain in athletes recovering from accidents or injuries.

  1. Prevent travel oedema and DVT

Compression boots stop blood clots in the legs by enhancing blood flow and stopping blood pooling, which troubles athletes who sit or stand for long periods, such as during a long flight or a recovery day. They prevent oedema and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during long-haul flights, ensuring athletes arrive at their destination in optimal condition.

  1.  Improve Sleep

Compression promotes better sleep quality by calming brain waves and aiding in central nervous system recovery, reducing fatigue, improving focus, and improving overall brain health. This is especially important for athletes recovering from intense physical activity and mental stress. Compression can help them restore their energy, strength, endurance, and cognitive and emotional functions by improving their sleep quality. Compression can also prevent overtraining syndrome, which is a condition that occurs when athletes train too hard without enough rest, leading to poor performance, increased risk of injury, and reduced motivation. By regularly using compression, athletes can optimise their training and recovery cycles and achieve peak performance.

Benefits of Compression Boots for Everyday People

Evidence suggests that massage is highly effective for reducing fatigue, while compression and cryotherapy are optimal for alleviating pain. A recent survey among professional soccer players revealed that 57% of the surveyed clubs utilised intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) boots. IPC boots enhance fluid tissue exchange and improve blood circulation, leading to accelerated recovery.

According to research, compression boots:

  1. Improve chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)

Compression boots improve chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a condition where the veins in the legs struggle to push blood back to the heart, causing blood to pool and leak into the tissues. CVI causes symptoms such as swelling, pain, heaviness, itching, cramps, skin changes, and leg ulcers. Compression boots also prevent venous thromboembolism (VTE), a serious complication of CVI, where a blood clot occurs in the deep veins of the legs and can travel to the lungs, causing a deadly pulmonary embolism.

  1. Prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Compression boots prevent DVT in immobile people or those with medical conditions that raise the risk of blood clots, such as obesity, pregnancy, or cancer.

  1. Relieve leg pain and fatigue

Compression boots ease leg pain and fatigue, which trouble people with varicose veins, spider veins, or oedema. Varicose veins are big and twisted veins that appear on the skin, often on the legs. Spider veins are smaller and stripper veins that appear as red or blue lines on the skin, often on the legs or face. The swelling caused by excessive fluid is known as oedema, often in the legs or ankles—compression boots lower pressure and tension in the legs, which eases pain and discomfort from these conditions.

  1. Prevent heart-related issues through nitric oxide production

Compression boots boost the amount of nitric oxide, an important gas for blood vessel health and function. Nitric oxide makes the blood vessels wider and more relaxed, which enhances blood circulation and oxygen supply to the muscles. Nitric oxide also prevents blood clots, lowers inflammation, and protects the blood vessels from harm. 

  1. Improve mood

Compression boots provide a relaxing and soothing sensation, which helps to reduce stress and improve mood. They release endorphins, natural painkillers, and mood boosters, which help relieve pain and enhance well-being. 

  1. Restore sensation following stroke

Ten rounds of 3 minutes at 40 mmHg with compression boots improve sensory functions in stroke patients.

  1. Enhance blood flow in blocked arteries

Using compression boots(foot+calf) for 3 to 5 months (>2.5 hours/day) boosts patients’ walking skills and ankle pressure measures, leading to a significant improvement in quality of life.

Delis (2005) reported that foot and calf IPC greatly enhances acute arterial limb inflow in intermittent claudication. Increased arteriovenous pressure and a significant drop in marginal resistance to flow due to a temporary halt of peripheral sympathetic autoregulation and the release of nitric oxide are the reasons for the positive effects of venous expulsion with IPC on leg venous pressure.

  1. Reduce gravity-related oedema in pregnancy

A swelling in the lower body due to gravity is called gravity-related pregnancy oedema. Gravity draws fluid down to the feet, legs, or hands, lowering fluid toward the earth. This problem is fixed with compression boots.

A research investigation involved 42 pregnant women in good health who utilised an external pneumatic intermittent compression (EPIC) device for 30 minutes. The study revealed a notable reduction in the size of the calf, lower leg, and foot region when EPIC was employed. Consequently, it was concluded that EPIC effectively alleviates pregnancy oedema associated with gravitational force.

  1. Aid in ulcer healing and reduce oedema in immobile/paralysed patients

To heal leg ulcers and oedema in immobilised or paralysed patients, an effective yet underutilised therapy technique is the use of compression boots. In individuals who use wheelchairs or with limited mobility, edema develops due to increased fluid extravasation, while leg ulcers result from venous and lymphatic pump failure. 

Compression boots apply pressure waves on the legs, achieved through the inflation and deflation of air-filled garments. This mechanism is crucial in revitalising compromised microcirculation in the skin, offering a viable solution for various related conditions. However, despite their notable advantages, compression boots are not widely utilised in clinical settings.

  1.  Eliminate swelling and pain in healthy people

Prolonged periods of standing or sitting can sometimes lead to sensations of heaviness, discomfort, and oedema, even in healthy individuals. Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) offers an effective method for preventing chronic venous insufficiencies. 

A study involving 20 healthy volunteers, who commonly experience leg discomfort and oedema due to their standing work duties, demonstrated the effectiveness of IPC in reducing leg discomfort, oedema, and pain. Remarkably, this treatment showed no adverse side effects.

  1. Treat Lymphedema 

Lymphedema is the swelling of tissues or organs in specific body parts due to a condition affecting lymphatic drainage, where the lymph (tissue fluid) fails to flow properly through the lymphatic circulation.

IPC boots utilise pressure to eliminate lymphedema by facilitating the removal of metabolites and inflammatory substances that contribute to pain via blood and lymphatic circulation.

  1. Fasten the healing of venous ulcers 

Venous leg ulcers are open skin sores on the inner leg, just above the ankle. They can be painful and may require up to a month to heal. Symptoms of venous leg ulcers include swollen ankles (oedema), skin discolouration, and darkening around the ulcer. The primary cause of these ulcers is chronic venous insufficiency.

To address the underlying issue, IPC (Intermittent Pneumatic Compression) modifies the pathophysiology by creating a favourable environment for healing. It promotes improved venous return, reduced leg oedema, increased endogenous fibrinolysis, decreased intravascular coagulation, and enhanced arterial perfusion to the affected skin. According to the American College of Chest Physicians, compression treatment has shown higher ulcer healing rates, even in patients who did not respond to other treatments for six months.

  1. Manage posttraumatic fracture complications

A study examined the impact of intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) treatment on ankle joint mobility and oedema in patients recovering from lower leg fractures. The research results indicate that IPC therapy plays a beneficial role in rehabilitating posttraumatic complications.

  1.  Help Manage Knee Osteoarthritis

According to a study, intermittent pneumatic compression therapy, along with conventional treatment, can improve clinical outcomes in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The study compared this treatment with cold-pack therapy along with conventional treatment in 89 patients. 

The researchers measured range of motion, muscle strength, knee swelling, pain intensity, and functional status before and after 4 weeks of treatment. They found that both treatments improved these outcomes significantly, but intermittent pneumatic compression therapy was better than cold-pack therapy in reducing knee swelling. 

  1. Eliminate Toxins and metabolic wastes

Compression boots squeeze your legs, putting pressure on the muscles and soft tissues under your skin. This pressure makes the space between your cells smaller. When this space is smaller, extra fluids stuck in your tissues return to your blood vessels. This makes your legs thinner, especially if they were swollen before. It also helps your skin get more oxygen and get rid of wastes and toxins. When you get rid of waste from your body, IPC helps to improve your blood flow, bring more oxygen to your tissues, heal your wounds faster, and fight infections better. It also lowers swelling, pain, and tiredness, making you feel better and happier.

How to Wear Compression Boots?

To use compression boots, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Put on the boots

Wear thin socks or leggings to protect your skin from direct contact with the sleeves. Slip on the sleeves over your legs and secure them with Velcro straps or zippers. Ensure the sleeves fit snugly but not too tightly, as this can affect compression effectiveness and comfort.

  1. Connect the sleeves to the pump

Connect the sleeves to the pump with hoses and plug in the pump to a power source. Turn on the pump and select the desired pressure, time, and mode settings. Depending on your preference and condition, you can choose from different pressure levels, from gentle to strong. Depending on the type of compression you want, you can also choose from different modes, such as sequential, gradient, or pulsing.

  1. Enjoy the massage

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Relax and enjoy the massage as the sleeves inflate and deflate in a rhythmic pattern. You may feel a slight pressure or tingling sensation in your legs, which is normal and indicates that the compression is working. You may also feel some warmth or coolness in your legs, which is also normal and depends on the air temperature in the sleeves.

  1. End the session

Turn off the pump and disconnect the hoses when the session ends or the timer goes off. Remove the sleeves and store them in a cool and dry place. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintaining the sleeves and pump.

How Long Should You Wear Compression Boots?

The optimal duration and frequency for utilising compression boots will vary according to your specific requirements, personal preferences, and objectives.

However, some general guidelines are.

For recovery

If you use compression boots for recovery after a workout, training session, or race, you can wear them for 15 to 30 minutes. Depending on your schedule and convenience, you can use compression boots right after your activity or later in the day or night. 

For prevention

If you use compression boots to prevent leg swelling, pain, or blood clots, you can wear them for 10 to 60 minutes. You can use compression boots before or during a long period of sitting or standing, such as during a long flight or a recovery day. You can also use compression boots after long sitting or standing, such as when you get home from work or travel. 

For performance

If you use compression boots for performance enhancement, such as improving your warm-up, flexibility, or range of motion, you can wear them for 10 to 15 minutes. You can use compression boots before your activity, or between sets or intervals, depending on your goal and preference. 

Do You Want to Try Compression Boots?

Recover faster, perform better, and feel great with the Black Max Pro Compression Boots by Recovery Systems. These boots offer the best compression therapy solution on the market. 

The good news is that you can rent them for a week for only SGD199 and see for yourself. 

If you love them, you can buy them at a discount. If you don’t, you can return them with no hassle. Click here to try.

You may also wish to try our AI-powered Recovery Coach – sign up here https://recovery-insights.jihoun.com/

Conclusion

Compression boots help you prevent and manage leg problems like swelling, pain, and blood clots. Whether you are an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or someone who cares about your legs, compression boots can be a valuable tool for your health and wellness. 

Recovery Systems