Are compression garments effective for the recovery of exercise-induced muscle damage? A systematic review with meta-analysis

Physiol Behav. 2016 Jan 1:153:133-48. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.10.027. Epub 2015 Oct 30.


Purpose: The aim was to identify benefits of compression garments used for recovery of exercised-induced muscle damage.

Methods: Computer-based literature research was performed in September 2015 using four online databases: Medline (PubMed), Cochrane, WOS (Web Of Science) and Scopus. The analysis of risk of bias was completed in accordance with the Cochrane Collaboration Guidelines. Mean differences and 95% confidence intervals were calculated with Hedges' g for continuous outcomes. A random effect meta-analysis model was used. Systematic differences (heterogeneity) were assessed with I(2) statistic.

Results: Most results obtained had high heterogeneity, thus their interpretation should be careful. Our findings showed that creatine kinase (standard mean difference=-0.02, 9 studies) was unaffected when using compression garments for recovery purposes. In contrast, blood lactate concentration was increased (standard mean difference=0.98, 5 studies). Applying compression reduced lactate dehydrogenase (standard mean difference=-0.52, 2 studies), muscle swelling (standard mean difference=-0.73, 5 studies) and perceptual measurements (standard mean difference=-0.43, 15 studies). Analyses of power (standard mean difference=1.63, 5 studies) and strength (standard mean difference=1.18, 8 studies) indicate faster recovery of muscle function after exercise.

Conclusions: These results suggest that the application of compression clothing may aid in the recovery of exercise induced muscle damage, although the findings need corroboration.

Keywords: Exercise; Metabolism; Metabolites; Muscle function; Venous hemodynamic.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clothing*
  • Compression Bandages*
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / blood
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myalgia / blood
  • Myalgia / enzymology
  • Myalgia / prevention & control
  • Myalgia / therapy*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Uncertainty


  • Lactic Acid
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Creatine Kinase