Does intermittent pneumatic leg compression enhance muscle recovery after strenuous eccentric exercise?

Int J Sports Med. 2013 Nov;34(11):969-74. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1337944. Epub 2013 Apr 19.


Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) has gained rapid popularity as a post-exercise recovery modality. Despite its widespread use and anecdotal claims for enhancing muscle recovery there is no scientific evidence to support its use. 10 healthy, active males performed a strenuous bout of eccentric exercise (3 sets of 100 repetitions) followed by IPC treatment or control performed immediately after exercise and at 24 and 48 h post-exercise. Muscular performance measurements were taken prior to exercise and 24, 48 and 72 h post-exercise and included single-leg vertical jump (VJ) and peak and average isometric [knee angle 75º] (ISO), concentric (CON) and eccentric (ECC) contractions performed at slow (30° · s⁻¹) and fast (180° · s⁻¹) velocities. Plasma creatine kinase (CK) samples were taken at pre- and post-exercise 24, 48 and 72 h. Strenuous eccentric exercise resulted in a significant decrease in peak ISO, peak and average CON (30° · s⁻¹) at 24 h compared to pre-exercise for both IPC and control, however VJ performance remained unchanged. There were no significant differences between conditions (IPC and control) or condition-time interactions for any of the contraction types (ISO, CON, ECC) or velocities (CON, ECC 30° · s⁻¹ and 180° · s⁻¹). However, CK was significantly elevated at 24 h compared to pre-exercise in both conditions (IPC and control). IPC did not attenuate muscle force loss following a bout of strenuous eccentric exercise in comparison to a control. While IPC has been used in the clinical setting to treat pathologic conditions, the parameters used to treat muscle damage following strenuous exercise in healthy participants are likely to be very different than those used to treat pathologic conditions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices*
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Creatine Kinase