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Physiological effects of wearing graduated compression stockings during running

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This study examined the effect of wearing different grades of graduated compression stockings (GCS) on physiological and perceptual measures during and following treadmill running in competitive runners. Nine males and one female performed three 40-min treadmill runs (80 ± 5% maximal oxygen uptake) wearing either control (0 mmHg; CON), low (12–15 mmHg; LO-GCS), or high (23–32 mmHg; HI-GCS) grade GCS in a double-blind counterbalanced order. Oxygen uptake, heart rate and blood lactate were measured. Perceptual scales were used pre- and post-run to assess comfort, tightness and any pain associated with wearing GCS. Changes in muscle function, soreness and damage were determined pre-run, immediately after running and 24 and 48 h post-run by measuring creatine kinase and myoglobin, counter-movement jump height, perceived soreness diagrams, and pressure sensitivity. There were no significant differences between trials for oxygen uptake, heart rate or blood lactate during exercise. HI-GCS was perceived as tighter (P < 0.05) and more pain-inducing (P < 0.05) than the other interventions; CON and LO-GCS were rated more comfortable than HI-GCS (P < 0.05). Creatine kinase (P < 0.05), myoglobin (P < 0.05) and jump height (P < 0.05) were higher and pressure sensitivity was more pronounced (P < 0.05) immediately after running but not after 24 and 48 h. Only four participants reported muscle soreness during recovery from running and there were no differences in muscle function between trials. In conclusion, healthy runners wearing GCS did not experience any physiological benefits during or following treadmill running. However, athletes felt more comfortable wearing low-grade GCS whilst running.

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The authors would like to thank Invista International S.à.r.l. (Geneva, Switzerland) for funding this study and Julius Zorn GmbH (Aichach, Germany) for providing the compression garments used by the participants. We would also like to thank all the participants involved in this study and the research assistants who assisted with data collection. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Ajmol Ali.

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Communicated by Niels Secher.

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Ali, A., Creasy, R.H. & Edge, J.A. Physiological effects of wearing graduated compression stockings during running. Eur J Appl Physiol 109, 1017–1025 (2010).

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