Investigating the impact of passive external lower limb compression on central and peripheral hemodynamics during exercise
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The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of graduated compression socks (GCS) on enhancing muscle blood flow and oxygenation during exercise and recovery in healthy subjects.
Twelve healthy volunteers completed a protocol involving baseline, exercise, and recovery periods with and without GCS. Each test was repeated twice to assess repeatability of the results. The applied sock pressure was measured prior to experimentation using a custom pressure sensing system, and modified as necessary using tensor bandages to control the applied load. During each of the experimental phases, blood velocity in the popliteal artery, calf muscle tissue oxygenation, muscle activity, heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, and applied pressure from the sock were measured. Popliteal artery diameter was measured during baseline and recovery periods.
The GCS significantly reduced deoxyhemoglobin (HHb) in the leg during baseline (HHb, p = 0.001) and total blood volume and HHb in the leg during exercise (total hemoglobin, p = 0.01; HHb, p = 0.02). However, there were no differences in leg muscle blood flow velocity or any other variables with and without GCS at baseline, exercise, or recovery. Interestingly, it was found that the local applied sock pressure was very sensitive to the sock application process and, furthermore, the pressure varied considerably during exercise.
No significant changes were observed in measures reflecting oxygen delivery for healthy subjects using GCS during exercise and recovery. Applied sock pressure was carefully controlled, thus eliminating the sock application process as a variable.
KeywordsPassive compression Graduated compression socks Hemodynamics Popliteal artery Plantar flexion
Diastolic blood pressure
Plantar flexion exercise
Graduated compression socks
Maximum voluntary contraction
Not wearing graduated compression socks
Applied sock pressure difference from ankle to knee
Popliteal artery diameter
Mean popliteal artery flow rate
Mean popliteal artery blood velocity
Systolic blood pressure
The authors would like to thank Mr. Ivan Beentjes for designing and constructing the pressure measurement system employed in this study. As well, we would like to thank the Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology for initiating and supporting the collaborative work in this study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
This work was supported by a grant from Lockheed Martin Corporation. Additional support was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Operating Grant No. RGPIN6473-07 to RLH, and RGPIN386282-2010 to SDP).
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