Compression Socks. Simple Technology. Not So Simple Risks.
Ah, the good old compression sock. Their just the rage in the triathlon community. Whether for performance improvement, or just to look like the crowd, everyone is wearing them. Before you run out and grab a pair, you might want to check with your doctor first. In the April issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, there is an article about the effects of vascular blood restriction on cardiac function during exercise. Researchers at the University of Texas compared the effect of tourniquet application on cardiovascular function. In those with tourniquets applied, exercise caused a substantial increase in blood pressure, an increase in cardiac muscle oxygen demand, and a decrease in blood flow out from the heart with each stroke (stroke volume). In addition, the normal changes that occur in the arteries with exercise were inhibited. In short, using a tourniquet on the legs while exercising caused a great deal of stress on the heart. This could have potentially disastrous effects on those with impaired cardiac function, like those with heart disease or who have had a heart attack.
Whether or not tourniquet = compression sock remains to be determined. In either case, it might be a good idea to check with your primary care physician first before you go and cut back the circulation in your legs….