When one of our muscles vibrates, a contraction of that muscle is triggered – and that contraction uses energy. Therefore, the thinking goes that the more we keep our muscles from vibrating, the less fatigued we'll get. That's why many long-distance runners wear compression tights. According to a new study from The Ohio State University, though, tights make no difference in reducing fatigue.
Led by Dr. Ajit Chaudhari, researchers had test subjects run on a treadmill for 30 minutes at 80 percent of their maximum speed. They did so twice, on two different days, once while wearing compression tights and once without them.
As they were running, a motion capture system tracked their position on the treadmill to within less than a millimeter. Force sensors in the treadmill also detected changes in how hard their feet landed on and pushed off of it, plus they wore a heart rate monitor to measure their rate of exertion.
Additionally, both their jump height and leg strength were tested before and after each run.
According to Chaudhari, although the tights did indeed reduce vibrations of the leg muscles, there were no differences in fatigue between the compression and non-compression runs. That said, he does believe that the support provided by tights may provide a psychological advantage to runners, which would still be good reason to wear them.
Source: The Ohio State University