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Effect of Compression Stockings on Running Performance in Men Runners

Kemmler, Wolfgang1; Stengel, Simon von1; Köckritz, Christina1; Mayhew, Jerry2; Wassermann, Alfred3; Zapf, Jürgen4

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: January 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - pp 101-105
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31818eaef3
Original Research

Kemmler, W, von Stengel, S, Köckritz, C, Mayhew, J, Wassermann, A, and Zapf, J. Effect of compression stockings on running performance in men runners. J Strength Cond Res 23(1): 101-105, 2009-The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of below-knee compression stockings on running performance in men runners. Using a within-group study design, 21 moderately trained athletes (39.3 ± 10.9 years) without lower-leg abnormities were randomly assigned to perform a stepwise treadmill test up to a voluntary maximum with and without below-knee compressive stockings. The second treadmill test was completed within 10 days of recovery. Maximum running performance was determined by time under load (minutes), work (kJ), and aerobic capacity (ml·kg−1·min−1). Velocity (km·h−1) and time under load were assessed at different metabolic thresholds using the Dickhuth et al. lactate threshold model. Time under load (36.44 vs. 35.03 minutes, effect size [ES]: 0.40) and total work (422 vs. 399 kJ, ES: 0.30) were significantly higher with compression stockings compared with running socks. However, only slight, nonsignificant differences were observed for V̇o2max (53.3 vs. 52.2 ml·kg−1·min−1, ES: 0.18). Running performance at the anaerobic (minimum lactate + 1.5 mmol·L−1) threshold (14.11 vs. 13.90 km·h−1, ES: 0.22) and aerobic (minimum lactate + 0.5 mmol·L−1) thresholds (13.02 vs. 12.74 km·h−1, ES: 0.28) was significantly higher using compression stockings. Therefore, stockings with constant compression in the area of the calf muscle significantly improved running performance at different metabolic thresholds. However, the underlying mechanism was only partially explained by a slightly higher aerobic capacity.

1Institute of Medical Physics, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany; 2Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri; 3Department of Mathematics, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany; and 4Society for Preventive Care Management and Sports Medicine, Bayreuth, Germany

Address correspondence to Wolfgang Kemmler, wolfgang.kemmler@imp.uni-erlangen.de.

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association