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Tights tested for rapid recovery

Tights tested for rapid recovery

Sport scientists are testing the effects of compression garments on blood flow and recovery time among top rugby players.

Johann Edge and Rob Merrells, researchers in the University’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, are working with Dr Nic Gill, trainer of Super 14 team the Chiefs, and Dr Rob Duffield from Charles Sturt University in NSW, Australia.

They are testing compression tights designed to reduce the build-up of lactic acid immediately after periods of sustained exercise, allowing for a faster return to recovery levels. The tights apply differing surface pressure over specific body parts, triggering an acceleration of blood flow, which increases oxygen delivery to working muscles. This is thought to enhance muscle performance.

Players from the University’s senior “Varsity A” and under-21 teams are participating in the research trials. Each participant is tested twice, with and without the compression tights in a simulated rugby game that involves sprints, weaving, and one-man scrum machines. The compression tights are worn during exercise and overnight recovery.

In rest periods of the simulated game, skin temperature is read and blood samples are taken to measure lactate levels (a by-product of metabolism) and the presence of creatine kinase (an indicator of muscle damage). Compression is a standard method used in injury rehabilitation, and the tights are designed to maximise the benefits.

Mr Edge says compression garments may be especially beneficial in periods of back-to-back training, and tournaments, where athletes’ recovery time is often an issue.


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