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1HP Article Reviews: Compression Sleeves and Recovery for Gamers

2014 Hill et al. – Compression garments and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: a meta-analysis.

Summary:

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a phenomenon occurring >12 hours post-workout or post-exertion in which individuals experience pain muscle fatigue, stiffness, and impaired function. The article reviewed here analyzed studies evaluating the efficacy of compression garments of measures of muscular strength, muscular power, muscle soreness, and serum creatine kinase levels. Proposed benefits of compression garments include enhanced blood flow to promote removal of waste products/muscle metabolites and decreasing available space for swelling via an external pressure gradient.

Hill et al. analyzed 12 studies that met criteria for inclusion in this meta-analysis. The use of compression garments had a moderate benefit in reducing the experience of DOMS, a moderate effect on recovery of muscle strength post-exercise, a moderate effect on the recovery of muscle power post-exercise, and a moderate effect in reducing concentrations to creatine kinase post-exercise.


The authors proposed several potential mechanisms for these effects. An external pressure gradient may cause a change in local osmotic pressure, decrease exudate production, and limit chemotaxis such that nociceptors which would be affected by this inflammatory response are activated to a decreased extent. Compression garments may provide dynamic immobilization and enhance neural input during recovery, leading to improved voluntary muscle activation. Compression garments may improve circulation and thus clearance of creatine kinase by enhancing muscle-pumping action.

Limitations:

The mechanisms by which compression garments improve DOMS are still poorly understood.

Incorporation into Practice & Gaming:

It is difficult to generalize the utility of compression garments to populations experiencing DOMS or DOMS-like symptoms other than athletes and active, healthy individuals performing eccentric and plyometric activities given the lack of understanding of the underlying mechanism by which compression garments aid in recovery. 

Despite this meta-analysis we have still utilized compression sleeves to address recovery, reduce pain through the gate-control theory and even for performance with less friction between the forearm and the table for some gamers. We treat it as a supplemental tool instead of a primary means to promote recovery (on top of sleep, stretch/self-massage behaviors post-use, etc.)

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