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What are the advantages of compression tights for endurance athletes?
Many joggers and long-distance runners swear by the effect of so-called compression tights or compression stockings to improve their performance, endurance and running speed. Researchers have now found that using such special clothing does not help runners run faster or further.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center researchers found that compression stockings and tights did not affect runner performance or speed. The doctors released a press release on the results of their study.
Compression tights do not reduce muscle fatigue
Compression tights reduce so-called muscle vibrations significantly, but they do not help to reduce muscle fatigue compared to running athletes without such tights, the scientists explain. The results of the study were presented at this year's annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Reduced vibration does not reduce muscle fatigue
When your muscle vibrates, it induces an energy-consuming contraction. So far, there has been a theory that less muscle vibration leads to less fatigue, explains author Professor Ajit Chaudhari. The truth is, however, that the reduced vibration is not associated with a reduction in fatigue. For the study, the test subjects ran the same route on the treadmill with and without compression tights.
How exactly did the experiment work?
The participants ran on two different days on the treadmill for a period of 30 minutes at about 80 percent of their top speed. On one day, the runners wore compression tights, on the other day they ran without this aid, the researchers explain. With the help of so-called motion capture technology, the doctors tracked the body position of each runner within a fraction of a millimeter. The scientists examined the strength of the legs and the jump height of the participants before and after each run.
Researchers used special treadmills and a heart rate monitor for their study
The researchers used a specialized treadmill with built-in force sensors for their investigation. These measured how hard the runners' feet hit the treadmill and how hard they repelled each other. Changes over time have also been recorded, explains Professor Chaudhari. The runners also wore a heart rate monitor so that their exertion could be measured during the run.
Do tired runners put more strain on their joints?
There is a theory that tired runners change their movements and thereby put more strain on their joints, which increases the risk of injury, the experts say. For this reason, the scientists investigated whether fatigue was really slowed down by wearing compression tights. However, further studies showed that experienced runners did not put more strain on their joints at the end of the training than at the beginning, the scientists add.
Compression tights lead to perceived advantages
Although the results showed that compression tights did not reduce runner fatigue, they can still lead to other benefits, Chaudhari explains. If runners feel better when wearing compression tights, this is already a sufficient reason for wearing the special tights. There is no evidence that wearing compression tights could be bad for the runner, and even the smallest perception counts when covering long distances, the doctors say. For this reason, the tights could help the runners in a special way that the scientists cannot measure. Additional research is now said to focus on other aspects of compression tights and the potential benefits for runners in terms of performance and post-workout regeneration. (as)