Exercise Recovery Part Two: Compression

Exercise recovery was the last thing that came to mind when I saw my grandparents wearing tan colored compression garments. If ‘ew’ is what comes to mind when you imagine nerdy-looking compression socks, rest assured, the next generation of compression has taken that science and doubled down. Now professional and college athletes as well as weekend warriors are utilizing new tools to recover from workouts faster and more efficiently.

Melanie Webb laying on training table with legs elevated in compression pants for exercise recovery

In our first article about nutrition I introduced the concept of exercise recovery as part of the whole of a training program. Many of us have been programmed to feel that if we’re not in the ‘green light, go’ phase of a training program we must be doing something wrong. It’s as if we only have one speed, and it’s full throttle. If that resonates with you, I hereby give you permission to take rest and enter the wonderful world of recovery.

“I hereby give you permission to take rest.”

– Melanie Webb

Integrating exercise recovery methods into your training programming ensures a balance between challenging workouts and adequate restoration, preventing burnout and maximizing performance gains. It’s about strategically aligning recovery methods with the body’s natural responses, creating a harmonious synergy that propels you towards your fitness goals.

Exercise Recovery and Compression

In its journey toward adaptation, the human body undergoes various physiological changes during and after exercise. Effective recovery strategies can enhance these biological processes. For instance, immediately after a workout the body experiences increased blood flow to deliver oxygen and nutrients to fatigued muscles, aiding in the removal of metabolic byproducts. Techniques that assist the body in executing this acute phase of exercise recovery include compression, vibration, and contrast therapy to capitalize on enhanced blood circulation. Eventually the body enters a repair and rebuilding phase during sleep, emphasizing the importance of quality rest for muscle recovery and overall well-being. 

Compression – Embrace the Squeeze 

Time to step into the rhythmic world of compression! Whether you opt for Normatec’s pneumatic hug or indulge in a classic massage therapy session, compression is your ally in increasing blood flow, controlling inflammation, and reducing that post-workout tissue vibration. Perfect for those who love the feeling of a massage, compression is your ticket to a quicker bounce-back, reducing DOMS, clearing lactate, and saying goodbye to post-workout pain.

Not limited to healthy athletes and hard workouts, various forms of compression, including socks between 20-30mmHg and 30-40mmHG and pneumatic devices, are now commonly used in the treatment of traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a form of dysautonomia. 

Vibration – Harmonize with the Hum

Vibrate your way to recovery with the power of vibration! Whether you’re standing on a platform or wielding a compression gun, vibration introduces increased muscle spindle activity, decreased pain sensitivity, and enhanced skin blood flow. The trick here is to keep it short – Mike Diebler, ACE-Certified Personal Trainer, recommends one minute or less per muscle to reduce the risk of damaging the muscle tissue. Before training or after, let the vibrations guide you to decreased creatine kinase levels and a farewell to muscle soreness. It’s your secret weapon for peak recovery!

Applying Exercise Recovery Methods

Understanding when to apply recovery methods is a crucial aspect of optimizing your overall wellness. How do you know if it is time for recovery, or an opportunity for adaptation? The key lies in understanding the intensity. Tailor your approach based on your training, focusing primarily on programming, sleep, and nutrition, and adding additional methods where it makes sense.

Need more specific guidance? 

Exercise recovery techniques to be used at any time:

  • Programming
  • Breathing
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition

Recovery for strength training / delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) / muscle damage:

  • Compression
  • Water immersion
  • Vibration
  • Massage
  • SMFR

Recovery for cardio training / inflammation:

  • Active recovery 
  • Cold water immersion (CWI) / cryotherapy
  • Contrast therapy
  • Sauna 

In Case You Missed It

Exercise Recovery Part One: Nutrition explored the importance of staying hydrated, including when to eat during and after a workout. What are you waiting for? Get with WebbWell and let’s get recovering. 

Contributor: Special thanks to Auburn Jackman

About Melanie Webb and WebbWell

Named “The person to call” by DEPARTURES Magazine, “a leader in the adventure travel industry” by Norie Quintos of National Geographic Traveler, and “one of the top trainers in the industry” by The Sports Club/LA (now Equinox), Melanie Webb is the founder and creator of WebbWell and the WebbWell wellness app. A sought-after industry and corporate retreat facilitator and speaker, her fitness course Mother Nature’s Gym Outdoor Fitness Guide is approved for 1.6 CEC’s from American Council on Exercise.