Now that we understand some basic muscle physiology, let’s apply compression to the pre and post-working muscle.
The cardiovascular system is the highway that brings oxygen and essential nutrients to the tissues, while carrying away toxins and waste left over from all body processes. Increases in muscular stress and work necessarily creates a deficit for physiological systems. Your muscles starve for oxygen, while byproducts such as creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase build up. As muscles work, the fibers necessarily break down, releasing cell waste and interstitial fluids. These fluids are partly the cause of post-workout edema.
It stands to reason that, if muscles need oxygen to function efficiently, increasing oxygen will improve performance. Additionally, by facilitating waste removal we improve efficiency and decrease post-workout edema and pain associated with the residual toxins in the muscle.
Studies have shown that even mild external compression has a significant effect in increasing blood flow and decreasing the byproducts of the muscle’s work cycle.
External compression garments were studied systematically in athletes during and after workout. After running downhill for 40 minutes, the test subjects put compression tights on one leg only. The results were quite astounding.
“Applying compression reduced lactate dehydrogenase (standard mean difference=-0.52, 2 studies), muscle swelling (standard mean difference=-0.73, 5 studies) and perceptual measurements (standard mean difference=-0.43, 15 studies). Analyses of power (standard mean difference=1.63, 5 studies) and strength (standard mean difference=1.18, 8 studies) indicate faster recovery of muscle function after exercise.” (1)
The indications of post-recovery muscle soreness were reduced markedly and conclusively in the study.
Another study showed the same results:
“Data were extracted from 12 studies, where variables were measured at baseline and at 24 or 48 or 72 h postexercise. Analysis of pooled data indicated that the use of compression garments had a moderate effect in reducing the severity of DOMS (Hedges' g=0.403, 95% CI 0.236 to 0.569, p<0.001), muscle strength (Hedges' g=0.462, 95% CI 0.221 to 0.703, p<0.001), muscle power (Hedges' g=0.487, 95% CI 0.267 to 0.707, p<0.001) and CK (Hedges' g=0.439, 95% CI 0.171 to 0.706, p<0.001). These results indicate that compression garments are effective in enhancing recovery from muscle damage..” (2)
Alternately, the use of external compression was studied in patients with simulated hypertension, which decreased blood flow in the legs. The results were very clear. In summary, by using external compression, the decrease in bloodflow by simulated hypertension was greatly mitigated, some more than two-fold.
“The present study demonstrates that mild external leg compression therapy during simulated venous hypertension significantly increases skin and muscle microvascular blood flows, and muscle oxygenation as compared to mild external leg compression or simulated venous hypertension alone.” (3a)
“Our data demonstrate that mild external leg compression counteracts the decrease in skin microvascular flow, muscle microvascular flow, and muscle oxygenation induced by simulated venous hypertension in the leg. Our findings explain some of the beneficial effects of external compression therapy on the treatment of venous hypertension.”(3b)
What we learn by these studies is:
We can use compression garments to increase blood flow.
Compression garments increase oxygen to the muscle.
Compression also helps reduce toxins such as creatine kinase and lactose dehydrogenase after workout stress and muscle damage such as trailering horses.
Humans in these studies communicated a difference in physiology (edema), pain (muscle soreness), and muscle power and strength (2) through the use of external compression alone.
We see many people who believe Hidez Compression Gear is a gimmick. They ask, "What's in the fabric?" We also see so many horse owners who have been “burned” by expensive products that do not deliver on their promises. They may have flimsy, anecdotal, or pseudo-scientific evidence to support their claims. What Hidez relies upon is broad, scientific, medical knowledge that translates across species.
Humans wear compression and communicate the difference they feel, both during workouts and after recovery. If you go in for surgery, your doctor will likely have you use compression socks to keep blood flowing in your legs and reduce the risk of developing blood clots. Tens of thousands of doctors prescribe compression to diabetics who suffer from decreased blood flow to the extremities for the same reasons. Racing greyhounds are improving their times as the increased blood flow from compression suits warms up and oxygenates the muscles before the race. Horses are reducing recovery times after workouts, allowing more concentrated training the next day and a better performance on day 2, 3, 4, etc. They also arrive to the event feeling fresher, since the suits help detox them in the trailer and combat edema and fatigue. The increase in concentrated training is especially beneficial in futurities, derbies, and other aged events. Hidez compression is also much cooler than other products, allowing comfortable use year-round.
We talk with horse owners all over the world, and we hear the same things. “I spent a lot of money on (insert another product here). It might make a small difference, but it's hard to tell.”
Let’s level just a moment. Horse owners are tired of feeling suckered. They’re tired of seeing well-intentioned dollars lying unused in the far corners of their tack room or trailer in the form of products that did not deliver on their promises, or only delivered marginal results. You work hard for your money, and you want to make sure you get the most benefit to your horse possible. That’s what makes you a good horse owner.
If you’re looking to improve performance, decrease recovery time, and help your horses achieve their potential, where are you going to put your money? Do you rely on anecdotal evidence? Ancient Chinese rituals? Pseudo-scientific theories about body auras and ionic polarization? Fad products with few (or no) studies and marginal results?
Do the research. Learn the benefits of each product. Learn how it works, study the theories behind it. We have done our homework, and we encourage you to do the same. Our findings correspond with thousands of studies – that we did not pay for – in nearly every field of medicine and athletics from human to horse to canine. We encourage you to scrutinize the product. We want you to ask the hard questions, because in the end, we know the product works.