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Recovery Trends: The Benefits of Compression Therapy

compressionYou may have come across some of the most elite athletes in the world hanging between practices and competitions in one pair of space age-looking boots. These boots are a recovery method but not the newest in the field of athletics. These thigh-high sleeves offer intermittent pneumatic compression, which is a therapeutic and controlled pressure cycle to the limbs with the intention to revive the legs for their next performance.

So, what’s Compression Therapy?

When we talk of compression as recovery, we talk of everything you know and nothing new. More than a few athletes already use compression shorts and socks after an exercise, and research believes that compression garments somehow reduce muscle soreness caused by plyometrics and sprinting. Pneumatic compression therapy is a little more intense. This is due to the fact that the sleeves (which resemble a larger design of a blood pressure cuff) feature numerous chambers that are attached to a control unit and pump. These sleeves are designed to offer sequential and pulsating compression to a particular area.

According to Chris Contini, recovery specialist at Denver Sports Recovery in Colorado, the primary function of these compression sleeves is to engage a lymphatic flush, which enhances a healthy blood flow back into the environment by helping to remove waste products, inflammation, and swelling.

Does It Work?

As opposed to many latest recovery methods, compression therapy has a comprehensive history originating from medical science. Devices such as Recovery Pump, Norma Tec Recovery, and Sports Pump have existed for some time now. They were initially intended to treat lymphedema (a type of swelling normally triggered by the removal or damage of lymph node), manage circulatory disorder, and prevent deep vein thrombosis. When athletes use the treatment technique, studies have indicated a profound improvement in enhanced flexibility & range of motion as well as quickening recovery after workout/training. This therapy can also be used to treat injury, but in this case, you will incorporate it with ice and massage.

Norma Tec in Massachusetts holds the largest market share in the world of sports. According to their site, top NCAA programs (NHL, NBA, and NFL teams), the US Navy SEALs, and the Olympic Committee of the US are all regular users. Boston Celtics and the Kansas City Chiefs have been provided with entire rooms featuring these compression units and cold & warm whirlpools, so they can use these devices together.

In a video interview, Ed Lacerte attested that the compression therapy was easy to use, particularly on the road. According to him, the compression unit has a compact size, and will allow the team to take the recovery unit with them anywhere they travel. Ideally, players can utilize rechargeable battery-powered units to make their limbs recover or heal while they are in their hotel rooms or on a plane or bus.

Top athletes have testified that compression therapy is so far the best, but it’s not just advertising hype. Several physical therapists and trainers, as well as health-care professionals have consistently prescribed this treatment technique for years. According to Brian Hart, a chiropractor from Thompson Healthcare and Sports Medicine, they prescribe this treatment method at least 40 times per day at their 6 clinic locations. They mostly recommend it for exercise and reduction and treatment of edema. Furthermore, Hart notes that at no time has a patient had any sort of hostile reaction to the treatment. He holds that the only thing their athlete patients had to say about the therapy is how it helps them a lot.

More people, from the professional athletes to the weekend warrior, are making a stop by the sports recovery centers to have a compression session. The facility of Contini offers drop-in visits at $25 every day or a monthly membership from as low as $85. Although the refreshing effects are noticeable in just a single session, Contini recommends continued use for optimum outcome. “We will typically see clients using the compression units 2 – 3 times every week but also as frequently as 5 – 6 times every week,” says Contini. In general, the more often you use these compressions, the more benefits you get.

If you would like to have unending access, then buying the compression unit is the best option. Remember, unit prices range from $1,200 – $3,000 per unit. Chipper Nicodemus, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Triathlon Club athlete, trains up to 6 days every week when enduring around 15 hours of bike, swim, run, preparing for half and full ironman races, and strength training every week. He bought a pair of Norma Tec boots and uses them a few times on a weekly basis for up to one hour per session. “Sitting down and literally having your feet up for 20 to 60 minutes after a torrid run or ride is incredible,” says Nicodemus. It helps flush and relax out your legs after a very tough session. My legs feel less tired and fresher when walking around to enjoy the remaining part of the day.

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