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  1. J Hill1,
  2. G Howatson2,
  3. K van Someren3,
  4. S Davidson4,
  5. C Pedlar1,5
  1. 1St Mary's University College, Twickenham, United Kingdom
  2. 2Northumbria University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
  3. 3GSK Human Performance Lab, Brentford, United Kingdom
  4. 4National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, United Kingdom
  5. 5Orreco Ltd, Sligo, Ireland


Background Commercially available compression garments (CGs) enhance recovery from exercise in some, but not all studies. It has been suggested that the minimum physiologically effective pressure is 17.3 mmHg at the lower leg decreasing to 15.1 mmHg at the thigh (Watanuki and Murata, 1994). CGs are usually fitted using a generalised sizing system based on height and mass, potentially causing variability in the pressure exerted by the garment.

Objective We aimed to quantify the pressure, and the variability in pressure, exerted on the leg by CGs fitted according to the manufacturers instructions.

Participants 50 healthy, physically active individuals (n=26 male, n=24 female; age 18–65years) volunteered to participate.

Design Participants were fitted with CGs according to manufacturers guidelines. The compressive force of the garments was measured in participants standing in the anatomical position including: the medial aspect of the calf at the site of maximal girth and at the midpoint of the femur measured between the inguinal crease and the superior aspect of the patella, of the lower limb. Data were compared to target pressure values.

Results Pressure fell short of target values by 3% and 20% at the calf and by 34% and 47% at the thigh for males and females respectively.

Figure 1

Box plots representing the mean, standard deviation, upper and lower quartiles for pressure exerted at the calf and thigh for males and females and compared to the target pressure suggested by Watanuki and Murata (1994).

Conclusion Many individuals may not be experiencing an adequate pressure from CG (Figure 1); this might explain the inconsistency within the literature regarding CG and recovery. Future research should measure and control for actual pressure exerted by the garment.

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