The bench throw demonstrated a significantly higher performance level with the use of the compression garments compared with the control conditions (Figures 4B and 5B). Men showed the expected significantly higher values compared with women. No significant differences were observed for the countermovement vertical jump for peak power, average power, and maximum performance decrement between conditions, but again expected sex differences were observed in power outputs. No significant differences were observed between the treatment conditions for the reaction/movement times. No significant differences were observed for the squat jump, albeit expected sex differences existed for force and power outputs.
The amount of swelling determined via ultrasound techniques was significantly lower in the thigh in the compression garments vs. that in the control conditions. No sex differences were observed (Figures 4C and 5C). No significant differences were observed in the patella thickness values under either condition but men had significantly higher values. No significant differences in limb circumferences were observed.
Vitality ratings were significantly higher with use of the compression garment compared with those under the control conditions (Figures 4D and 5D), and no sex effects were noted. Fatigue ratings were significantly lower in the compression garments than under control conditions in both men and women, and no sex effects were noted (Figures 4E and 5E). No differences were observed in any of the other mood states between treatment conditions. Sleep ratings with 0 meaning very light sleep and 10 meaning very good sleep quality were not significantly different between conditions (women: garment, 7.1 ± 2.3 vs. control, 7.6 ± 1.9 and men: garment, 5.1 ± 2.0 vs. control, 5.4 ± 2.5), although men showed significantly lower quality of sleep for both conditions compared with women.
Creatine kinase values were significantly lower at rest 24 hours after the workout after wearing the garment compared with the control conditions for both men and women. Men also showed significantly higher values under both conditions (Figures 4F and 5F). Lactate dehydrogenase values reflected this same response pattern. As expected with the nutritional controls, all the values for clinical chemistries (electrolytes, proteins, and so on) were in normal ranges and not significantly different between treatments or were any sex differences noted.
The primary findings of this investigation were that the use of a whole body compression garment did produce more rapid recovery of selected psychological, perceptual, physiological, and performance variables when compared with the use of a noncompression treatment condition over a 24-hour recovery time frame. However, not all parameters were affected. This was most likely because of the very specific stresses of the workout interacting with the magnitude of damage, damage geometry on specific surface areas, and the differential recovery kinetics of the variables examined in this investigation using resistance-trained subjects (51,52). The resistance exercise protocol incorporated whole body exercises, with relatively high volume, and short-moderate rest periods to produce significant neuromuscular recruitment, metabolic and hormonal responses (29-31,35,36). We used a 24-hour recovery period because many athletes or highly active individuals want to be ready to train or compete within this time frame (16).
In trained men and women, an exercise stress is highly specific to the workout demands (16). Soreness ratings were significantly reduced in the upper torso when using the whole body compression garment. However, no changes were observed in the upper-body arm soreness levels. This might not be surprising with the use of resistance-trained subjects who have had extensive exposure to heavy eccentric loading (9,48,50,52). Interestingly, the bench throw performance was also significantly improved with the use of the whole body compression garment, reflecting enhanced recovery from the neuromuscular deficit created by the workout stress in the upper body.
The practical applications of this study appear to demonstrate the efficacy of a whole body compression garment when recovery enhancement is needed after a typical heavy resistance training workout. Reductions in muscle soreness and tissue damage appear to mediate enhanced performance and less fatigue and greater vitality. One can speculate that whole body compression garments used in this study may be useful in helping recovery with demanding tissue disruptive conditioning sessions or competitive events.
We would like to thank a dedicated group of volunteers for this study, our laboratory support staff, our research assistants, and our physician and medical monitor, Dr. Jeffery M. Anderson, for his medical supervision of this study. This study as supported by a grant from Under Armour®, Baltimore, MD, USA.
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