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Medicina dello Sport 2007 December;60(4):567-73


language: English, Italian

Effect of knee-length elastic graduated compression stockings on aerobic performance in athletes

Ganzit G. P. 1, Moretti M. 2, Milani M. 3, Arpaia G. 3

1 Institute of Sports Medicine, FMSI, Turin, Italy 2 Polycardiography Service, S. Anna Clinical Institute, Brescia, Italy 3 Out-patient Unit of Medical Angiology and Non Invasive Vascular Diagnostics Division of Medicine 2, Civil Hospital,Vimercate (MI), Italy


Aim. Elastic compression stockings (ECS) may facilitate venous return to the heart during movement by improving muscle pump efficacy and increasing cardiac output. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of knee-length graduated elastic compression stockings (pressure at ankle 20 mm Hg) on aerobic performance .
Methods. Twenty trained cyclists 25-35 years old performed incremental exercise on a cycle ergometer. The workload was increased by 30 watt every 1 min until exhaustion. After a basal test, participants completed two trials 3-5 days apart in a crossover design, in which the athletes were randomly assigned to wear (or not) ECS. Heart rate, O2 consumption, CO2 production and minute ventilation were measured during the exercise tests.
Results. A significant increase in maximal workload with the use of ECS (382.5±35 W vs 360±45 W) was noted. Also V.O2max (4.43±0.46 l/min vs 4.20±0.69) was higher but the difference was not statistically significant; mechanical efficiency, maximal heart rate and ventilation were the same at both tests. Heart rate at submaximal workload with ECS was lower until anaerobic threshold (151±8 bpm vs 155±11 bpm at 270 W), resulting in a significantly higher work pulse.
Conclusion. The better performance with the use of ECS may be due to better cardiocirculatory function. Increased venous return improves end-diastolic volume and stroke volume, thus eliciting a reduced heart rate response to maintain similar cardiac output and a higher cardiac output at maximal heart rate. Wearing ECS during incremental exercise until exhaustion appears to increase workload in trained cyclists.

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