A Tale of Two Studies - Magnets vs. Compression

A Tale of Two Studies - Magnets vs. Compression

Athletes use many different therapies to control DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and speed recovery with varying results. Let's take a look at two studies comparing static magnets and compression therapy. 


Effect of static magnetic therapy on recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness



This study evaluated the effect of static magnetic therapy on the pain and stiffness associated with delayed onset muscle soreness. Therapeutic static magnets are sold worldwide and are claimed to reduce pain and enhance recovery by improving blood supply to body tissues. Although anecdotal stories abound regarding the effectiveness of static magnetic therapy, the research evidence is equivocal.


A double-blind, placebo-controlled study design.


University research laboratory.


Twenty (10 males, 10 females) untrained, healthy individuals ages 18–32 participated in the study.


Subjects performed two sets of 25 maximal eccentric elbow flexion repetitions on an isokinetic dynamometer to induce muscular soreness. Immediately after the eccentric exercise session, subjects' arms were randomly assigned to either magnetic or placebo treatments, which were administered via an armband. The armbands were worn continually, except during bathing, for the next 7 days. Pain perception, elbow range of motion, maximal isometric strength, and upper arm girth were assessed using a visual analog scale, Leighton flexometer, isokinetic dynamometer, and Gulick tape, respectively.


A repeated measures group by time ANOVA was used to compare changes between placebo and magnetic treatment. No significant differences between magnetic and placebo control arms were noted for any of the outcome measures.


Results indicate that static magnetic therapy had no effect on the pain associated with DOMS nor did it speed recovery when compared to a placebo control.


In this study, magnets had no statistical impact on muscle recovery. ZERO! 
Let's see if compression therapy has any benefits.

Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2001 ;31(6):282-290
Influence of Compression Therapy on Symptoms Following Soft Tissue Injury from Maximal Eccentric Exercise
William ). Kraemer, PhD )ill A. Bush, PhD2 Robbin B. Wickham, MSPT1 Craig R. Denegar, PhD, PT2 Ana I. Gbmez, MS1 Lincoln A. Gotshalk, PhD2 Noel D. Duncan, PhD2 /eff S. Volek, PhD, RD Margot Putukian, MD2 Wayne ). Sebastianelli, MD2

Study Design:

A between groups design was used to compare recovery following eccentric muscle damage under 2 experimental conditions. Objectiw To determine if a compression sleeve donned immediately after maximal eccentric exercise would enhance recovery of physical function and decrease symptoms of soreness.

Background: Prior investigations using ice, intermittent compression, or exercise have not shown efficacy in relieving symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). To date, no study has shown the effect of continuous compression on DOMS, yet this would offer a low cost intervention for patients suffering with the symptoms of DOMS. Methods and

Measures: Twenty nonimpaired non-strength-trained women participated in the study. Subjects were matched for age, anthropometric data, and one repetition maximum concentric arm curl strength and then randomly placed into a control group (n = 10) or an experimental compression sleeve group (n = 10). Subjects were instructed to avoid pain-relieving modalities (eg, analgesic medications, ice) throughout the study. The experimental group wore a compressive sleeve garment for 5 days following eccentric exercise. Subjects performed 2 sets of 50 passive arm curls with the dominant arm on an isokinetic dynamometer with a maximal eccentric muscle action superimposed every fourth passive repetition. One repetition maximum elbow flexion, upper arm circumference, relaxed elbow angle, blood serum cortisol, creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, and perception of soreness questionnaires were collected prior to the exercise bout and daily thereafter for 5 days.

Results: Creatine kinase was significantly elevated from the baseline value in both groups, although the experimental compression test group showed decreased magnitude of creatine kinase elevation following the eccentric exercise. Compression sleeve use prevented loss of elbow motion, decreased perceived soreness, reduced swelling, and promoted recovery of force production.

Conclusiom: Results from this study underline the importance of compression in soft tissue injury management. ) Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2001;31:282-290.

The Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, Ind. Center for Sports Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, k. This project was supported in part by a grant from E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Inc in Wilmington, Delaware and by Pennsylvania State University. Approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University. Send correspondence to William ). Kraemer, Human Performance laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. E-mail: wkraemer@bsu.edu 

Link to complete study: http://www.jospt.org/doi/pdf/10.2519/jospt.2001.31.6.282?code=jospt-site


The second study shows a statistically significant decrease in muscle soreness and creatine kinase levels in the group using compression sleeves vs. control group. Also, muscle power, torque, and range of motion were significantly improved. 

For your athlete, which therapy will you spend your hard-earned money on?