Lower limb sports compression garments improve muscle blood flow and exercise performance during repeated-sprint cycling

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance


Human Kinetics, Inc.

Place of Publication

United States


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Broatch, J. R., Bishop, D. J., & Halson, S. (2018). Lower Limb Sports Compression Garments Improve Muscle Blood Flow and Exercise Performance During Repeated-Sprint Cycling. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 13(7), 882-890. Available here.


Purpose: Evidence supporting the use of lower-limb compression garments during repeated-sprint exercise (RSE) with short rest periods, where performance will rely heavily on aerobic metabolism, is lacking. Methods: A total of 20 recreationally active participants completed 2 cycling RSE sessions, with and without lower-limb compression tights. The RSE session consisted of 4 sets of 10 × 6-s maximal sprints on a wind-braked cycle ergometer, interspaced by 24 s of recovery between bouts and 2 min of recovery between sets. Muscle oxygen consumption (mVO2) of, and blood flow (mBF) to, the right vastus lateralis muscle was measured during exercise using near-infrared spectroscopy and venous/arterial occlusions of the right lower limb. Cycling performance, oxygen consumption (VO2), heart rate, and capillary blood samples (lactate, pH, bicarbonate, and base excess) were also measured/taken throughout the session. Results: Compared with control, peak power (40.7 [19.9] W; mean ± 95% confidence intervals) and mBF (0.101 [0.061] mL·min−1·100 g−1) were higher, and heart rate (2 [1] beats/min) was lower, when participants wore compression (P < .05). mVO2, VO2, blood lactate, and heart rate increased as a result of exercise (P < .05), with no differences between conditions. Similarly, blood pH, bicarbonate, and base excess decreased as a result of exercise (P < .05), with no difference between conditions. Conclusions: Wearing lower-limb compression tights during RSE with short intervals of rest improved cycling performance, vastus lateralis mBF, and heart rate. These results provide novel data to support the notion that lower-limb compression garments aid RSE performance, which may be related to local and/or central blood flow.



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