The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a pneumatic compression device (PCD) compared to a continuously-worn compression sleeve (CS) during a five-day recovery period from delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) of the elbow flexors. Eight college-aged students participated in this crossover design study. The muscle-damage protocol consisted of four sets of 25 repetitions of isokinetic concentric elbow flexion followed by eccentric elbow extension at 60°/second. Immediately following the muscle-damage protocol, subjects either wore a CS continually for five days or completed daily, 20-minute PCD treatments for five days. Swelling, range of motion (ROM), and pain were measured daily during the five-day recovery period. Subjects rested for seven additional days before completing another muscle-damage protocol and the remaining treatment. Treatment order was randomized and balanced. Muscle swelling, assessed via changes in upper arm circumference, was significantly lower in the PCD treatment (1.7 vs. 2.0 cm in CS, p = 0.012), however there was no difference in lower arm circumference (p = 0.091). ROM disturbances during the PCD treatment were lower (mean peak reduction in ROM -9.04 degrees in PCD compared to -17.25 degrees in CS, p < 0.05) and peak pain was lower by 39% (27.5 mm in PCD compared to 45.2 mm in CS, p < 0.05) when compared to the CS treatment. These findings suggest that daily treatments using a PCD further reduce peak disturbance and recovery time from DOMS of the elbow flexors when compared to a continuously-worn CS.
Keywords: Muscle damage; arm sleeves; delayed onset muscle soreness; muscle inflammation; soreness.