Compression garments have helped athletes accelerate recovery and enhance performance for over 70 years. But the gold medal question is, does Compression Recovery work?
Today we discuss and compare both the benefits of static compression garments with Intermittent Pneumatic Compression.
Benefits of Static Compression Garments: Snake Oil or Holy Water?
Scientific studies have successfully proved that static compression garments provide a 6% improvement in performance. That is a hell of a lot of gains for wearing a few pieces of tight clothing.
Static forms of compression recovery have remained a fashion trend in the fitness industry. Whether you are at the gym or cycling through the city, spandex is everywhere.
Results of a recent study revealed that the higher levels of compression yielded higher levels in performance.
Don’t worry! You don’t need to go out and buy tighter clothes. Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) takes compression garments to the next level.
Benefits of IPC (Intermittent Pneumatic Compression)
The primary mechanism for the effectiveness of IPC is that it enhances circulatory and arterial blood flow via the intermittent inflation of Recovery System cuffs. Typically, intermittent compression is 10 x more powerful than compression garments, and it’s the milking action or squeeze and release that gives them a considerable edge over static compression garments. IPC has been shown to be beneficial to the warm-down activities of athletes. The removal of waste products may reduce injury risk and the phenomenon of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Studies have shown that athletes who undergo IPC treatment have a lower heart rate and blood pressure than those who did not use IPC.
Higher pressure IPC treatments allowed athletes to maintain their performance after a higher volume of intense works outs.
Incorporating IPC into your post-workout will enable you to recover faster, which means athletes can train more often. Gains or improvements also lock in faster, given the faster recovery time to allow the magic of super-compensation or gains.
Eight minutes on an IPC cuff is equivalent to a 30 to40-minute warm-up run/ride. This allows a warm-up at a lower metabolic cost and saves your energy and time, saving valuable energy to allow the athlete to hit the high notes of a given training session.
Parasympathetic System Benefits
Stress is part of our lives and even more so for athletes with a high training load.
Stress be gone, IPC has excellent benefits and a critical beneficial influence over the parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is a part of the autonomic nervous system (our bodies version of autopilot) — the part of your brain that balances and manages and brings everything back homeostasis.
The parasympathetic is also known as “rest/digest”, which handles slowing things down and reallocating blood away from your muscles to vital organs so you can perform internal functions.
It slows down the heart and breathing while relaxing your muscles, which produces vasodilation. It usually results in cold hands and feet. We have talked a lot about this. Still, the thing to understand is that if you can create vasodilation and warm your hands and feet, you activate your parasympathetic handling.
So, these are not isolated things. They all work together. When you increase one, you increase all of this. So, it can have incredibly profound far-reaching influences and benefits on your health.
The first thing that we want to talk about is digestion. These functions – digestion, immune system, anabolism, and reproduction – are 100% controlled by the parasympathetic.
The sympathetic does not influence these, except that it can shut off the parasympathetic. So, to drive this forward, we need to induce parasympathetic activation.
Anabolism is the process of building things up. Catabolism is breaking down. Anabolism is building up (your body tries to do this all the time).
Forms of Anabolism:
- Replacement of tissue
- Regeneration of tissue
IPC promotes the parasympathetic process. It slows down the heart and breathing. It relaxes muscles, and it produces vasodilation. It encourages waste elimination and accelerates the delivery of fresh nutrients for healing recovery and gains. Most people report that they fall asleep during treatment, and this is undoubtedly a significant parasympathetic benefit as anything that influence sleep and sleep quality is gold.
Blood clot prevention
Being immobile for prolonged periods can cause blood to pool in your legs. When the speed of blood flow slows down, it increases the risk of blood clots.
IPC Recovery Systems encloses your legs in a cuff that inflates and squeezes, promoting the natural release of substances in your body that prevents against blood clotting. Using Compression Recovery Systems regularly will ensure that oxygen-rich blood flows through your legs.
Portable compression recovery systems are an excellent choice when travelling. However, it is vital to choose a device that offers enough battery life, so you don’t have to hunt for a power socket while trying to relax and recover.
What does the research say?
Ewan R. Williams et al. published an article on High-Pressure Compression Garments in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.
You can read the full paper here: Enhanced Cycling Time-Trial Performance During Multiday Exercise with Higher-Pressure Compression Garment Wear
If you don’t want to read eleven pages of scientific lingo here is our easy-to-digest summary of the key findings:
The experiment was conducted on a stationary cycle ergometer where participants would undergo high-intensity training and an 8km cycling time trial.
- Time trial performance was improved by 6% when using higher pressure compression garments.
- Average work rate was greater for higher compression compared to low compression and loose fit clothing. There was no difference between low compression and loose fit clothing, proving that higher compression is needed to experience improvements.
- The performance improvement was clear with 8 out of 10 participants shaving up to 15% off their time-to-complete the 8km time trial.
- Higher compression levels improved multiday cycling time trial performance, supporting recent results on the effectiveness of higher-pressure compression garments on performance recovery.
Williams et al. surmise that high-pressure compression garments reduce venous blood pooling and muscle swelling, which are essential factors in expediting recovery and performance enhancement.
What is unique about Recovery Systems products?
Adjustable compression levels
We pride ourselves on having the highest level of compression in the business. When using Recovery Systems products, you can adjust the compression from a light squeeze up to a Python’s grip, which means you can make micro-adjustments to the sensitivity until you find your sweet spot.
Six chamber model
Not only do we have the highest level of compression available, but we also have two more chambers.
So, what are the benefits of having these extra chambers?
Each chamber provides gradual sequential compression, meaning that each section overlaps seamlessly with no gaps and therefore no blood pooling.
Research shows that having six chambers increases blood flow more effectively than four and clears away any built-up fluids more efficiently.
Four modes. Four reasons
We are not a one-trick pony. We supply four different modes for four very distinct reasons.
We didn’t just mash a variety of different modes together like a massage chair. Each sequence serves a specific purpose.
- Mode A is a typical standard relaxing massage therapy, which is excellent for warming up
- Mode B is for lymphatic edema treatment or DVT prevention and treatment
- Mode C is pulse massage, relaxing hand massage type, providing deep, full, and rapid recovery for muscles
- Mode D is maximum compression and decompression
If you are interested in learning more about Compression Recovery, please feel free to contact us and book in a free trial and demonstration.
Author: Michael Lyons
With Three Decades of tech and Meditech experience, 10,000 hours of endurance sports coaching and competing at the NZ national team level, Michael’s passion is biohacking recovery and wellness for athletes, for those with short term and long term medical conditions and healthy aging. Michael consults and partners with leading medical practitioners to provide therapy solutions for short and long term illnesses, including diabetes, DVT, Lymphedema, pre and postnatal, post-surgery, autism (ASD), PTSD, and sleep apnoea.
Michael also consults and partners with High-performance sports organisations, Three Olympic Gold medallists, two current world champions, the Rugby World cup, NZ Rugby, the Singapore Olympic team, the NZ Olympic team, Clubs and coaches. He also teaches the recovery modules for the fitness industries personal training courses.