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To assess original research addressing the effect of the application of compression clothing on sport performance and recovery after exercise, a computer-based literature research was performed in July 2011 using the electronic databases PubMed, MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science. Studies examining the effect of compression clothing on endurance, strength and power, motor control, and physiological, psychological, and biomechanical parameters during or after exercise were included, and means and measures of variability of the outcome measures were recorded to estimate the effect size (Hedges g) and associated 95% confidence intervals for comparisons of experimental (compression) and control trials (noncompression). The characteristics of the compression clothing, participants, and study design were also extracted. The original research from peer-reviewed journals was examined using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) Scale. Results indicated small effect sizes for the application of compression clothing during exercise for shortduration sprints (10–60 m), vertical-jump height, extending time to exhaustion (such as running at VO2max or during incremental tests), and time-trial performance (3–60 min). When compression clothing was applied for recovery purposes after exercise, small to moderate effect sizes were observed in recovery of maximal strength and power, especially vertical-jump exercise; reductions in muscle swelling and perceived muscle pain; blood lactate removal; and increases in body temperature. These results suggest that the application of compression clothing may assist athletic performance and recovery in given situations with consideration of the effects magnitude and practical relevance.
Born and Sperlich are with the Dept of Sport Science, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany. Holmberg is with the Swedish Winter Sports Research Center, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden.