Sunday, December 13, 2009

Get your blood flowing....the SIMPLE explanation for Compression

One of the best methods out there for reducing recovery time is compression - but there seems to be some misconception and confusion out there as to what these garments ACTUALLY do. Compression garments have long been used in medical settings to help patients recover better from surgery.

But the simple reason for athletes to utilize compression is that it aids in increasing blood flow BACK to the heart. This increase in blood flow reduces the swelling and inflammation therefore allowing the muscles to rebuild from the microscopic tearing of muscle fibers (Exercise Induced Muscle Damage or EIMD).

It should be noted that compression garments - particularly calf sleeves and arm sleeves SHOULD be tighter at the furthest point from the heart (i.e. ankles and wrists). The pressure should DECREASE within the garment as it moves closer to the heart. This is called Graduated Compression and is essential to the effectiveness of compression garments. When combined with the muscle pump effect of the calf, graduated compression promotes increased circulation of blood and lymph fluid through the legs.

Check out for compression gear from Zoot and Zensah -- both featuring Graduated Compression engineered for improving athletic performance.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cold Compression Therapy

Ice Baths -- recovery or torture?? Well, a little of both I suppose. There are definitely benefits to taking a dip in icy water after a hard workout. The theory goes that exposure to the cold will constrict the blood vessels and reduce inflammation in damaged muscles. Then after warming back up, blood flow is restored and helps to flush lactic acid and metabolic wastes from the damaged muscles. This helps to reduce the dreaded DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. You know -- the achy sore feeling that hits you about 24-48 hours after a really hard workout.
There are a lot of pro and elite athletes that swear by this method for recovery............ but if you're like me (i.e. NOT A PRO or ELITE athlete) then submerging yourself in freezing cold ice water isn't a very practical or appealing method.

So, you ask, what are the alternatives??

Cold Compression Therapy! There are several brands and methods out there but the best one I've found so far is made by Recover Gear. They use a compression garment which has pockets over the muscles for inserting a Thermafreeze ice pack. The Thermafreeze pack can also be heated up for warming therapy as well. They've got a complete line with shorts, tights, calf sleeves to ankle, knee and even shirts. Set up time is quick - just throw the shorts on and insert the frozen packs. (No waiting for the bath to fill up and dumping ice) You can wear the shorts underneath a pair of baggies or just by themselves. This past summer on long rides and runs, I would be 'craving' my Recover Gear shorts. The cold packs really felt great on my legs after being out in the 95-100 deg Florida heat for 4-6 hours. I could always tell a difference after using the Recover Gear. My legs wouldn't have that 'dead' feeling later in the day or even for the next day's training.

The Recover Gear method is by far the easiest way to ice down your legs, joints, or upper-body after a hard workout or even if you're injured. Check out the complete line of Recover Gear Products here.