Compression stockings in cycling, useful or not?

Bachelor Thesis

JJG Buttons – i552984
Specialisation: Human Movement Sciences
Internship institution: Sportmax in Eindhoven
Internship period: 01-04-2011 – 29-07-2011
Faculty supervisor: Dr. E. van Breda
Institutional supervisor: Dr. E. van Breda
Second reviewer: Prof. Dr. H. Kuipers
Date: 29-07-2011


Purpose. Studying whether wearing compression socks in young, well-trained cyclists affects the heart rate around their tipping point.

Set-up. The research used a randomized crossover design.

Method. 6 young (300km/ week) cyclists took part in this study. They all took a test with compression socks (intervention) and a test without compression socks (control). Prior to this test, the power was determined at their tipping point. During the test, the subjects drove 3 blocks of 12 minutes at their tipping point (power). From each block, 3 constant minutes were selected for analysis. Based on this, we looked at what happened to the heartbeat during these blocks. During the intervention, the subjects wore Herzog compression stockings. These consisted of 68% polyamide and 32% elastin and had a pressure of 25-32 mmHg on the ankle.

Results. The heart rate of the subjects was lower during the test with compression stockings. In the first (p = 0.012) and the third block (p = 0.039), the control and the intervention differed significantly from each other. In the second block, the difference was not significant (p = 0.179), but the heart rate was lower by wearing compression stockings. The ability of the subjects was equal in all blocks during the control and the intervention (p = 0.194 (1); p = 0.543 (2); p = 0.332 (3)). When all tests were taken together, the subjects also had a significantly lower heart rate during the intervention (p = 0.001) at the same power (p = 0.170).

Conclusion. Wearing compression stockings leads to a decrease in heart rate during exercise around the tipping point. This may be the result of an increased venous return or better oxygen delivery in the active muscles. However, on the basis of this research and the current state of the literature, this phenomenon cannot yet be explained.