How do compression sleeves work and what are the health benefits?

The use of compression clothing has increased considerably in recent decades. Initially, it was created for purely therapeutic purposes but, over the years and with extensive research, the great advantages it has for sport, health and life in general were determined.

Compression garments have an infinite number of designs for any part of your body. They fit around the skin making the blood circulate faster, creating many benefits. In this article we will explain all their advantages, when and why to use them and if there are any problems in their use.

When and why should we wear compression sleeves?

Compression garments were first used in the 1950s with the aim of improving blood circulation but could only be used on patients who had had surgery. Nowadays, its use is so popular that it is used in almost all existing sports such as: running, cycling, football, basketball, tennis, rugby, golf, kayaking, among others. This was because they found improvements in performance, prevents injuries and much more.

The compression garments are a great ally for any moment of the sports life; whether in training, competitions or recovery from injuries. There are many designs for any part of the body and according to the needs you require, these are: tights braces, stockings, knee braces, t-shirts, ankle support,elbow braces, among others.

Without a doubt, compression clothing has become more than a fashion, a necessity. Athletes use these clothes mainly for the safety and confidence they can have at every moment of their lives. Their benefits cover many areas of health and they are not only used for sports purposes.

Therefore, we will explain in detail when we should use compression garments and why:

  • To recover from or avoid injury: You can exercise or play any sport with the confidence that you will not be injured. But, if you already have one, the compression clothing placed on the injured area will help your rapid recovery.
  • To improve performance: Compression tights and stockings are the most commonly used to improve sports performance. Many athletes wear them in areas such as: Cycling, running, football. Generating advantages in periods of very intense training and greater competitiveness.
  • You will be able to exercise without pain: Training constantly can generate pain in different areas of the body. With compression clothing you can avoid or reduce this discomfort quickly and comfortably.
  • You will improve your posture: You will be able to have a good posture and stability with t-shirts or compression tights. In this way you will be able to avoid any injury or future illnesses.
  • When you return to training after an injury: Researchers have found that wearing compression socks and stockings has significant effects on functional recovery. Therefore, the use of these garments is mandatory for most injuries in order to resume physical training.
  • It helps to fight diseases: Training, sports or physical activities are not its only objectives. This alternative medicine has improved illnesses for several decades without the need for any surgical intervention, and is currently the main method for their recovery. Some of the diseases are: Varicose veins, venous deficiencies, inflammations, traumas and more.
  • For daily life: There are compression garments for almost all types of situations. If you are not doing any physical activity or suffering from any illness, you can still use it. With the recovery socks you can work or sit without any obstacles. Their designs are so comfortable and versatile that they can also be worn under clothing at any time of day.
  • You’ll achieve quick results: By reducing pain, avoiding injury and even creating greater physical resistance, you’ll be able to reduce stress levels. Generating stronger and faster results.

What are the main health benefits of using compression garments and sleeves?

What are the main health benefits of using compression garments and sleeves?

As highlighted above, compression garments originated several decades ago for purely therapeutic purposes. After several studies and experiments conducted to better understand the use of this therapy, it was concluded that its extensive benefits are currently incorporated in many medical and sports areas.

But, just as it has evolved and become a sport fad (for many). It has also grown and spread in the health area, generating a less expensive but very effective alternative for circulatory problems and more.

It is the medical compression therapy, which is based on placing an elastic device (stockings, tights, among others) on the extremities, which generates a pressure on the walls of the veins improving the circulation, inflammations, pains and other venous and lymphatic symptoms.

Compression garments can be used according to the symptoms and needs of each individual in many areas of the human body. Now we explain specifically which diseases, traumas and inflammations can be improved by compression therapy.

Recovery from injuries

Researchers have found improvement in people who exercise after an injury, wearing the compression clothing in the affected area. This is due to the reduction in blood lactate levels. Lactic acid or lactate is a chemical compound important for anaerobic metabolism that limits our performance. The garment may reduce blood lactate and cause a rapid recovery.

Reduces muscle pain

This type of pain is caused by exercise or physically demanding work. The most recommended way to be treated is with compression clothing. Its function is to reduce the vibration of the muscle on impact with the ground. In other words, by reducing the impact, it protects the muscle from severe pain and accelerates the muscle recovery process.

Lymphedema

It is the pathological accumulation of lymphatic fluid in a third vascular space in both the upper and lower extremities. When muscles contract or give them mobility, they are compressed, thus giving mobility to the lymph through the lymphatic channels inside the muscles.

As lymphoedema is a pathological accumulation of lymphatic fluid, it is produced by an interruption in its transit. When compressive therapy is carried out, mobility is restored to the lymph, thus reducing inflammation gradually and progressively. It is important to note that this is the most widely used treatment for lymphoedema.

Post-traumatic injuries

As the name suggests, it occurs after a trauma or injury, either from a blunt blow or an open wound that can cause an inflammatory problem through pro-inflammatory factors. Specifically, wound healing in a limb is conditioned by the force of gravity. This wound implies an alteration in the microcirculation of the blood and an increase in the intravenous pressure.

This may result in a state of venous hypertension that would increase or lead to venous insufficiency. Therefore, the post-traumatic limb injury needs anti-gravity measures, which has as a characteristic the compression therapy which is also an anti-inflammatory measure. This is the most important and effective treatment for post-traumatic wounds.

Varicose Veins

Thanks to compressive therapy we will be able to strengthen the veins. This is possible with orthopaedic compression stockings that reduce the diameter of the veins in the legs, creating a better functioning of the venous valves and without retention of blood in the veins. At the same time, varicose veins, stretch marks and spider veins can be reduced or prevented.

Venous Ulcer

It is the last degree of chronic venous insufficiency. Its causes vary, it can be due to injuries, old age, blood clots, among others. Compressive therapy is the most recommended treatment for this disease. Its main effects are: increased lymphatic drainage, reduction of edema, tissue remodelling, release of anti-inflammatory mediators and more.

Blood circulation

Medical compression stockings perform a controlled pressure on the main veins, significantly improving the transfer of blood from the extremities to the heart. Its benefits are many, as it improves the circulatory speed, reduces reflux and improves drainage of the deep venous system.

Venous return

A leg injury generates a process of inflammation which alters the microcirculation and, depending on its severity, an increase in intravenous pressure, making healing and venous return difficult. Compressive therapy is a good solution for these wounds and, in general, for any anti-gravity and anti-inflammatory treatment of the legs.

Improved performance

The constant use of compression clothing could radically change your lifestyle, making you a more active and healthy person. Studies have shown that compression garments have many benefits such as: decreased muscle pain, increased blood flow or oxygenation of the muscle, which generate a feeling of less strain when doing exercise and physical activity. In this way you can improve your performance not only in sports training, but also in everyday life.

Are there any contraindications to the use of compression clothing that should be avoided?

Are there any contraindications to the use of compression clothing that should be avoided?

While there are many benefits, some contraindications, mostly superficial, could also be found:

  • Stockings are easy to use but, when poorly fitted or wrinkled, they can become uncomfortable and in a very extreme case, cause pressure ulcers.
  • You must be careful the first days of wearing a compression garment because there is a possibility of being allergic to the material. The percentage is very small but it is possible.
  • Inflammation in the legs or lungs due to congestive heart failure.
  • Diabetics must be very careful when using a compression clothing because they are very delicate with their legs and feet. An infection or blister in these areas could make their health worse.

Now, these are some of the disadvantages of compression sleeves but, their therapeutic, sporting and medical use, proven by different studies throughout history, has created the confidence it has in the modern world and without doubt, a good investment in people’s physical and psychological well-being.

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