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Effects of Sports Compression Socks on Performance, Physiological, and Hematological Alterations After Long-Haul Air Travel in Elite Female Volleyballers

Broatch, James R.1,2; Bishop, David J.1,3; Zadow, Emma K.4; Halson, Shona2,5

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 2 - p 492–501
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003002
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Broatch, JR, Bishop, DJ, Zadow, EK, and Halson, S. Effects of sports compression socks on performance, physiological, and hematological alterations after long-haul air travel in elite female volleyballers. J Strength Cond Res 33(2): 492–501, 2019—The purpose of this investigation was to assess the merit of sports compression socks in minimizing travel-induced performance, physiological, and hematological alterations in elite female volleyball athletes. Twelve elite female volleyballers (age, 25 ± 2 years) traveled from Canberra (Australia) to Manila (Philippines), and were assigned to 1 of 2 conditions; compression socks (COMP, n = 6) worn during travel or a passive control (CON, n = 6). Dependent measures included countermovement jump (CMJ) performance, subjective ratings of well-being, cardiovascular function, calf girth, and markers of blood clotting, collected before (−24 hours, CMJ; −12 hours, all measures), during (+6.5 and +9 hours, subjective ratings and cardiovascular function), and after (+12 hours, all measures except CMJ; +24 hours and +48 hours, CMJ) travel. When compared with CON, small-to-large effects were observed for COMP to improve heart rate (+9 hours), oxygen saturation (+6.5 hours and +9 hours), alertness (+6.5 hours), fatigue (+6.5 hours), muscle soreness (+6.5 hours and +9 hours), and overall health (+6.5 hours) during travel. After travel, small-to-moderate effects were observed for COMP to improve systolic blood pressure (+12 hours), right calf girth (+12 hours), CMJ height (+24 hours), mean velocity (+24 hours), and relative power (+48 hours), compared with CON. COMP had no effect on the markers of blood clotting. This study suggests that compression socks are beneficial in combating the stressors imposed by long-haul travel in elite athletes, and may have merit for individuals frequenting long-haul travel or competing soon after flying.

1Institute for Health and Sport (IHES), Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia;

2Department of Physiology, Australia Institute of Sport, Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory, Australia;

3School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia;

4Sports Performance Optimization Research Team, School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia; and

5School of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Address correspondence to James R. Broatch, james.broatch@vu.edu.au.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.