The Use of Compression Garments in Elite Australian Athletes: A Survey
1.1 Objective: The use of compression garments is becoming increasingly popular amongst athletes as a method to enhance performance and/or recovery from exercise. However, little is known about the specific uses of compression garments and the perception of their benefit amongst elite athlete populations, therefore, the current study aimed to gain an understanding of the use of compression garments in the elite athlete setting.
1.2 Methods: The current study surveyed 236 elite Australian-representative athletes (160 male, 76 female) across a range of 16 sports (AFL, athletics, basketball, boxing, canoe slalom, football, gymnastics, netball, power-lifting, rowing, rugby union, rugby league, sailing, swimming, volleyball, wheelchair basketball) including Olympians (n=42) and Paralympians (n=28) from the 2012 London Games. The current use of compression garments, including which garments the athlete’s own, how they are used, duration of wear and their perceived benefit was assessed. Further analysis was performed to assess the use of compression garments in athletes <20 years (n=116) versus athletes >20 years (n=120).
1.3 Results: The majority of athletes surveyed wear compression garments both during exercise and for post-exercise recovery 1-3 times per week. The most common duration for wearing compression garments was 1-4 hours following exercise (55% of athletes surveyed). The most common compression garments owned by athletes were long tights (89%), and 71% of athletes indicated that they sleep in their compression garments at least once per week. Mean ± SD for the benefit of compression tights for recovery (0= no benefit, 100 = definitely beneficial) was; 76.1 ± 17.4. There was a significantly greater perceived benefit of compression garments (p < 0.05) in athletes <20 years compared to athletes >20 years of age.
1.4 Conclusion: The majority of athletes surveyed perceived a benefit in wearing compression garments both during exercise and for recovery. The current study highlights the level of perceived importance of compression garments as a performance and recovery tool in an elite athlete population.