What is the effect of compression garments on a balance task in female athletes?
INTRODUCTION: Compression based garments have been used in the medical field to optimise circulatory dynamics for many years. The effect of compression garments on balance is less known. Research has shown that superior balance enhances postural control athletic performance, and is associated with a reduction in injury rates. Therefore the purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of wearing CGs on the balance ability of elite athletes, and to investigate the effects of compression garment sizing on postural control. We hypothesised that greater conscious awareness of the body’s position would occur as a result of wearing CGs during a 60 s single-leg balance task.
METHODS: Twelve healthy and active females (24 ± 7.2 yrs) performed three balance trials: wearing conventional shorts (control); loose-fitted CGs (LF-CG); and well-fitted CGs (WF-CG), on two occasions: eyes open and eyes closed (visual occlusion). Participants were required to maintain this single leg stance (SLS) for a maximum of 60 s. If the subject became unbalanced during the trial and touched the floor with the swing leg, the test was terminated and the total time of the test was recorded. An eight camera motion analysis system and one force plate were used to sample the participant’s kinematic and kinetic motion data, respectively. The main outcome measures for this study included the overall stabilisation time and measurements of CoM/CoP path lengths. Postural sway was also calculated.
RESULTS: During one leg stance, significantly greater postural stability (p < 0.01) was observed with eyes open vs eyes closed, irrespective of compression group.
A significantly greater (p < 0.05) balance time was observed with eyes closed when wearing well-fitted compression garments compared to conventional shorts. Differences were not present with use of the loose-fitted garment. Additionally, a significant interaction effect between compression condition and vision was observed analysing the variation about the sway) of the CoP and CoM data
(p < 0.05). The interaction effect revealed greater variability of movement with eyes closed as participants’ level of compression decreased. No significant differences were observed with eyes open.
Figure 1: Total stabilisation time (s) for each compression condition. * Significant difference between shorts and well-fitted garments (p<0.05)
The difficulties of postural stability while maintaining the single leg stance wearing conventional shorts were improved with use of the well-fitted compression garments (in the eyes-closed condition). Proper fitted compression garments may be beneficial for injury management and injury prevention.
Michael, J. S., Dogramaci, S. N., Steel, K. A. & Graham, K. S. (2014). What is the effect of compression garments on a balance task in female athletes? Gait and Posture, 39(2), 804-809.