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FRIDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to what many athletes would like to think, a new study shows that compression garments have no effect on sports performance.
Indiana University researchers found that lower leg compression sleeves don't affect a runner's oxygen consumption, which means there is no improvement in running economy or efficiency. Their study of 16 highly trained male distance runners also found that lower leg compression garments have no impact on running mechanics.
Lower leg compression garments, which have become increasingly popular, are a compressive tall sock that covers the area from just above the ankle to just below the knee.
"Distance runners may try them out initially, because they see other runners using them with success. Since some runners are somewhat superstitious, they may continue using them if they happen to have a good race and attribute it to the compression," Abigail Laymon, a researcher in the kinesiology department at Indiana University, said in a news release.
Overall, the lower leg compression sleeves "don't seem to really do much," Laymon said. "However, there may be a psychological component to compression's effects. Maybe if you have this positive feeling about it and you like them, then it may work for you. It is a very individual response."
A second Indiana University study concluded that upper thigh compression garments -- which cover the area between the waist and the knees -- don't improve athletic performance. People should be wary about manufacturers' claims that compression garments improve athletic performance, said Nathan Eckert, a human performance doctoral student in the kinesiology department.
"Consumers need to keep in mind that this is a business, and that [these companies] are trying to sell you their product," he said in the news release.
The studies were presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Baltimore.
-- Robert Preidt
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