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Background:

Physiological mechanisms behind the use of compression garments (CGs) during off-road running are unknown.

Purpose:

To investigate the influence of wearing CGs vs conventional running clothing (CON) on muscle contractile function and running economy before and after short-distance trail running.

Methods:

Knee-extensor neuromuscular function and running economy assessed from two 5-min treadmill runs (11 and 14 km/h) were evaluated before and after an 18.6-km short-distance trail run in 12 trained athletes wearing either CGs (stocking + short-tight) or CON. Quadriceps neuromuscular function was assessed from mechanical and EMG recording after maximal percutaneous electrical femoral-nerve stimulations (single-twitch doublets at 10 [Db10] and 100 Hz [Db100] delivered at rest and during maximal quadriceps voluntary contraction [MVC]).

Results:

Running economy (in mL O2 · km–1 · kg–1) increased after trail running independent of the clothing condition and treadmill speeds (P < .001). Similarly, MVC decreased after CON and CGs conditions (–11% and –13%, respectively, P < .001). For both clothing conditions, a significant decrease in quadriceps voluntary activation, Db10, Db100, and the low-to-high frequency doublet ratio were observed after trail running (time effect, all P < .01), without any changes in rectus femoris maximal M-wave.

Conclusions:

Wearing CGs does not reduce physiological alterations induced during short-distance trail running. Further studies should determine whether higher intensity of compression pressure during exercises of longer duration may be effective to induce any physiological benefits in experienced trail runners.

Vercruyssen, Gruet, and Ehrstrom are with LAMHESS EA 6312, University of Toulon, Toulon, France. Colson and Brisswalter are with LAMHESS EA 6312, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Nice, France.

Address author correspondence to Fabrice Vercruyssen at vercruyssen@univ-tln.fr.