If you look around at an urban running event or at a world class marathon competition nowadays you must see that most of the pro athletes and weekend warriors are wearing compression clothes. Because this is the case for some years the argument saying maybe this is just a trend has not much impact. But why are compression tights etc. so popular? Does it have a proven benefit or does it simply feel good?
In the following I want to explain the evidence based facts for the efficacy of compression in a short and coherent way to show that they are a useful addition for climbers in training, competition and for rock climbing trips.
What for are they meaningful? Almost every time when I am climbing with compression sleeves I get this question. Some of the mechanics are explained by the producer VERTICS-Sleeves on their website. In my opinion the most important effect to mention is the positive influence on blood circulation, metabolism and the lymphatic system. They work coherent and get accelerated through the compression. This leads to a faster removal of end products from the musculature into the circulatory and lymphatic system which is necessary for athletic performance.
Because this is a slow process it is authentic that you can affect it extracorporeal through compression. So you should not expect sudden results during the performance because of some critical evidence (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11). But this does not mean that there are absolutely no effects during training. At the end of a long training session as it often happens in climbing you can definitely benefit from compression sleeves. And also in breaks between your climbs the muscles in your forearms regenerate faster. But the main effects are a faster recovery after your training. Therefore you should also wear them some time after your training. You are able to bring your usual performance with shorter recovery because there is a less amount and quicker drop of the parameters in your blood which increase due to strain and damage of your musculature (3, 12). Furthermore the perception of pain in your muscles can be lower after the training session (3, 8). Even before training it is useful to wear compression sleeves to enable better following performance. The muscle is in a better shape because there are less end products and water in it and because of more blood circulation there is more oxygen in the area which is necessary for the performance (1, 2, 6). To sum up wearing compression clothes -such as VERTICS-Sleeves- before, during and after training has positive effects on athletic performance and regeneration even if you first have to habituate to the unfamiliar feeling. It is a simple and not very expensive investment to improve and professionalize your own training. I can say by experience that VERTICS-Sleeves are a product with high quality which worked well for me until now but I do not have the comparison to another product. This is my own independent opinion. I do not get sponsored or paid by VERTICS.
In other sports such as running or cycling compression clothes are becoming more and more common and the existing evidence is based on these sports. In the future it will be very interesting to see how compression sleeves will develop in the sport of climbing. Because of the fast professionalization of the sport, I believe that it is only a matter of time until much more athletes will make use of them.
Fabian Schlumberger, October 2017
Kemmler W, von Stengel S, Köckritz C, Mayhew J, Wassermann A, Zapf J.
J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):101-5
Scanlan AT, Dascombe BJ, Reaburn PR, Osborne M.
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2008 Dec;3(4):424-38
Davies V, Thompson KG, Cooper SM.
J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep;23(6):1786-94
Ali A, Creasy RH, Edge JA.
J Strength Cond Res. 2011 May;25(5):1385-92
- Effects of gradual-elastic compression stockings on running economy, kinematics, and performance in runners.
Varela-Sanz A, España J, Carr N, Boullosa DA, Esteve-Lanao J.
J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Oct;25(10):2902-10
Ménétrier A, Mourot L, Bouhaddi M, Regnard J, Tordi N.
Int J Sports Med. 2011 Nov;32(11):864-8
Burden RJ, Glaister M.
J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):2837-43
Bieuzen F, Brisswalter J, Easthope C, Vercruyssen F, Bernard T, Hausswirth C.
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014 Mar;9(2):256-64
Del Coso J, Areces F, Salinero JJ, González-Millán C, Abián-Vicén J, Soriano L, Ruiz D, Gallo C, Lara B, Calleja-Gonzalez J.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Mar;114(3):587-95
Stickford AS, Chapman RF, Johnston JD, Stager JM.
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015 Jan;10(1):76-83
- The use of compression stockings during a marathon competition to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage: are they really useful?
Areces F, Salinero JJ, Abian-Vicen J, González-Millán C, Ruiz-Vicente D, Lara B, Lledó M, Del Coso J.
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Jun;45(6):462-70
Mizuno S, Morii I, Tsuchiya Y, Goto K.
Int J Sports Med. 2016 Oct;37(11):870-7