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What should I add to my program for Training, Performance & Recovery?

Use of BodyHelix for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Tom Parker, MD

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) refers to the pain experienced when muscles are stretched eccentrically that most athletes have experienced at some time in their life. If you are young, you may have observed it in your father when he complained of aching after starting an exercise program. If you are a little older, you probable experienced it at the “beginning of the season” when old muscles were called on again to perform at a higher level. If you are my age (61) or older and you have not experienced this, please contact me immediately for this is something very unusual about you!

This is a brief review of the science, noting that the studies are limited by small numbers of subjects. A commercially prominent compression garment manufacturer funded the most interesting study. The study is very nicely done with 11 male recreational athlete subjects and concludes that “compression garments may alter the inflammatory repair response to accelerate the repair process but there was no improvement of perceived muscle soreness.” It requires a leap of abstraction to make any more of this study. Another performance study of “12 trained elderly cyclists (63)” demonstrated a performance increase when compression garments were worn between two experimental trials. It is possible to find multiple irrelevant studies of compression garments. For examples, a study of 10 male cricket players may reduce perceived muscle soreness. Or another, 23 elite male rugby players found some benefit. So there are not clinically relevant studies that really study the physiology of compression clothing. So how do we find objective information to explain real world observations of benefit?

What we all would like to see a study of ample numbers that included stratification on age, gender, fitness level, and so on so we could look at people of a similar demographic. The study doesn’t exist so we are left with rather meaningless data when applied to the athletic population at large.

Mike Mason is a top national ultra-marathoner and friend of BodyHelix who has tested our products in the setting of extreme endurance sports. We asked for Mike’s opinion regarding comfort or benefit when used in any way he wanted to consider. Interestingly, he has indicated that he has found them to provide benefit when worn between training intervals under his business suit on a daily basis. We have heard that story before but cannot explain how that occurs. We do not claim to have a clear explanation for all these observations but are struck. The expectation that compression garments would improve performance and comfort when worn between training periods is an entirely unanticipated benefit. The results of the available published research provide no guidance to help the athlete with a scientific orientation discern whether or not there is a benefit. We are interested in doing this research and hope that you would have an interest in participating as a subject or an interest in the results. Visit our website to register for consideration.


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