Compression Technology: Is it the Real Deal?

By Peg Labiuk | 06/14/11

TRAINING CORNER

We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mountainpedalscoaching80903 Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at http://www.voler.com. To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at Marilyn@MountainPedals.net, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Voler E-Mail List member Larry Olinick is our 77th winner of a $20 Voler gift certificate! His training question that follows was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

Compression Technology: Is it the Real Deal?

Hey Coach,

I'm starting to see compression socks and leg sleeves show in group rides, catalogs, etc. Is this technology the real deal or just a passing fad? If they're for real, are the just for training or racing as well? Would older riders like me benefit? Thanks!

Larry Olinick
Charlotte NC

Hi Larry,

It's been a year and a half since I looked for research on the performance of compression clothing. Back in 2010 I interviewed the companies supplying Voler – DeFeet and Zensah for details, see the archived article "Effectiveness of Compression Clothing". Having another look, the literature hasn't changed much. There are studies like this one:

"In 2006, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine by A. Bringard, S. Perrey and N. Belluye, compared the aerobic energy cost during submaximal (80% of V02 Max) running between athletes wearing compression tights and those wearing elastic tights or conventional, loose running shorts. The conclusion was that wearing compression tights during running could enhance overall circulation and decrease muscle oscillation to promote a lower energy expenditure at a submaximal speed. Studies have proven for years that wearing compression contributes to more power output in short, explosive movements, but this was one of the first studies done on compression and aerobic exercise."

The benefits of compression clothing are basically stabilizing the muscles during exercise and recovery, improving circulation, and reducing recovery time. I find that most of the information out there is anecdotal, which is fine, because I want to hear how it works for fellow athletes. The consensus is that the compression wear is best at improving recovery time. There is much debate about how that works biologically, but even if it works 1-2%, that's an instant result that would be hard to come by otherwise. It would benefit older riders since recovery is a limiting factor. You'll have to try for yourself to see if they work for you.

Now, I have another recovery product suggestion. Even when used in warm-up, Farabloc has also been proven to greatly reduce the creation of lactic acid. (Which tells me we do a lot of muscle damage in warm-up, or by not warming up gently enough.) This is a fabric blended with fine steel threads, working on the electromagnetic principle. I have used Farabloc (http://www.farabloc.com) for many years – it' hasn't worn out and still gives me pain relief, extra fast recovery, and it stops tingling and numbness. Would love to hear of any other products Voler customers use.

Coach Peg

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