University of Tasmania
Brophy_Williams_whole_thesis.pdf (8.72 MB)

Practical use of compression garments for exercise recovery : perceptual, physiological and performance-based parameters

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:45 authored by Brophy-Williams, N
\\(Background and Aims:\\) Elite athletes are continually pursuing the small gains that may assist in improving their performance and edging them ahead of their opponents. Ergogenic aids, including a variety of sports equipment, are commonly employed to achieve such gains. One particular aid that is frequently utilised in an attempt to augment both exercise performance and recovery is sports compression garments. Compression garments have long been used in a clinical setting to augment blood flow in patients with poor circulation. They are widely recognised as a beneficial and effective tool in this population. Extensive research findings have supported the capacity for compression garments to narrow blood vessels, increase both arterial and venous flow, and physically restrict the space available for oedema to form. These mechanisms reduce the incidence of deep vein thromboses, limb swelling and venous ulcers. The transfer of these physiological enhancements to an athletic population manifests in reduced limb swelling, removal of metabolites and improved nutrient delivery to the muscles. These mechanisms are proposed to aid performance by improving recovery and delaying fatigue. Further to these potential physiological adaptations, sports compression garments are also proposed to influence athletic performance via reductions in muscle oscillation and improved proprioception. In addition, the commonly held belief in the efficacy of sports compression garments to enhance performance also has the capacity to affect athletic outcomes. To better understand the capacity of compression garments in a sporting setting, and link together the multiple mechanisms they have the potential to induce, this thesis first sought to characterize the physical properties of sports compression garments. Subsequently, an investigation was conducted to assess whether sports compression garments worn by an athletic population could influence blood flow and limb volume in a manner similar to that of clinical patients. Progressing from this mechanistic study, two further investigations measured the impact compression socks had on initial performance, recovery and subsequent performance when worn either during or post-exercise. These latter studies incorporated perceptual, psychological, physiological and performance-based outcomes assessed, given the multifactorial mechanisms proposed to underlie the benefits of compression. In combining the findings of these investigations, this thesis aimed to improve the understanding of the potential connections between primary, secondary and tertiary based outcomes so as to better comprehend any changes that are induced by the use of sports compression garments (Figure 1)


Publication status

  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2018 the author Chapter 2 appears to be the equivalent of a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Sports engineering. The final authenticated version is available online at: Chapter 4 appears to be the equivalent of an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of sports sciences on 20/12/14, available online: Chapter 6 appears to be the equivalent of an accepted author manuscript version reprinted, by permission, from International journal of sports physiology and performance, 2017, 12(5), 621-627, Copyright Human Kinetics, Inc. Chapter 7 appears to be the equivalent of a postprint version of an article published as: Brophy-Williams, N., Driller, M. W., Kitic, C. M., Fell, J. W., Halson, S. L., 2019. Wearing compression socks during exercise aids subsequent performance, Journal of science and medicine in sport, 22(1), 123-127 Appendix A appears to be the equivalent of a postprint version of an article published as: Driller, M. W., Brophy-Williams, N., 2016. The use of compression garments in elite Australian athletes: a survey, Journal of athletic enhancement, 5(3) Appendix B appears to be the equivalent of an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Measurement in physical education and exercise science on 20/12/16, available online:

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