Compression Sleeve Research

Utilizing compression arm sleeves often have noticeable benefits both for athletic and medical compression. You might have noticed that you feel less muscle soreness after exercising when a compression sleeve is worn for recovery. For many people, this is enough to believe in the positive benefits of compression arm sleeves. But maybe you are the type of person that notices an improvement in performance but wonders how much of that improvement comes from compression sleeves changing the physiology in your arm and how much is a result of a placebo effect. This is where well designed scientific experiments can help us determine what are likely to be real effects of compression arm sleeves.

Levels of blood lactate, tissue oxygen saturation, muscle motor skills etc. are not easily measureable by the average person wearing arm sleeves. While our perception of how helpful compression arm sleeves are is important, without scientific studies we would not be able to fully understand the physiologic benefits of wearing arm sleeves. For these reasons the peer reviewed scientific articles below offer insight into the molecular and cellular benefits of wearing compression sleeves for arms. For each article I have included a few bullet point comments that should help clarify the results the study. This is by no means a comprehensive list but will be updated as new research is published.

If you are new to researching scientific articles there are a few tips that you should know. First, the links below take you to PubMed, which is a public database of scientific articles. The articles are published by a large number of focused scientific journals, many of which require a subscription to read the full article but often the abstract or summary is available for free. Going to your local university or community college library is a great way to obtain access to full-text scientific journals as most institutes of higher learning subscribe to many journals. Often though the abstract provides enough information to understand the experiment and the results unless of course you are into reading journal articles for fun.

 

Effect of compression garments on short-term recovery of repeated sprint and 3-km running performance in rugby union players.

  • Participants consisted of rugby players.
  • Compression garment only worn during recovery.
  • Assessed sprint and 3K running performance.
  • 3K time decreased and average sprint time improved in the compression garment group.
  • Fatigue during sprints decreased by over 15% in the compression garment group.
  • Significantly reduced muscle soreness was observed in the compression garment group.

 

Compression sleeves increase tissue oxygen saturation but not running performance.

  • Participants consisted of moderately trained athletes.
  • Calf compression sleeves were worn during exercise.
  • Study assessed running performance on a treadmill.
  • Significantly increased tissue oxygen saturation was observed in the compression sleeve group.

Wearing a sports compression garment on the performance of visuomotor tracking following eccentric exercise: a pilot study.

  • Participants included male participants.
  • Assessed an elbow flexion/extension task.
  • Performance of the task was significantly better in the compression sleeve group immediately after exercise and up to 3 days post exercise.

Dose finding for an optimal compression pressure to reduce chronic edema of the extremities.

  • Participants included breast cancer patients with lymphedema.
  • Assessed the effectiveness of different levels of compression in the arm and leg.
  • This study found that there is an upper limit of compression pressure after which point using higher compression garments is not beneficial and in fact can be counterproductive to reducing limb volume.

Influence of compression therapy on symptoms following soft tissue injury from maximal eccentric exercise.

  • Participants included non-strength-trained women.
  • Compression garment worn for recovery only.
  • Measured arm curl strength, cortisol, several blood enzymes and perceived muscle soreness.
  • Reduced elevation of creatine kinase in compression sleeve group.
  • Reduced swelling and perceived soreness in compression sleeve group.

 

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