Honors Theses


Anne Crecelius


Health and Sports Science

Publication Date

Spring 4-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Compression socks are common tools that are utilized in the realm of athletics. The purpose of the compression is to increase blood flow to the lower extremities, thereby increasing oxygen and energy sources needed for increased skeletal muscle function and/or recovery. Recently, a product has been marketed that combines the compression element with cryotherapy, the goal being increased blood flow to the lower extremities while reducing inflammation post-workout to quicken recovery. However, to our knowledge, direct measures of blood flow using this type of product have not been performed. Thus, this study looks at the effects of compression with and without cryotherapy on the blood flow of trained male athletes. The hypothesis was that compression would increase blood flow, ice would reduce it, and a combination of both would produce an intermediate result. Participants (n=9) were trained, having a body fat percentage that was not considered overweight (≤ 25%) and a minimum VO2max of 50 mL/kg/min. Those who met the criteria partook in four randomized trials during a single visit: control, compression, ice, and compression with ice. Calf blood flow (CBF; venous occlusion plethysmograph), skin temperature (temperature probe), heart rate (ECG), and blood pressure (sphygmomanometry) were monitored throughout each trial. As compared to control, compression alone decreased CBF (0.88±0.14 vs 1.51±0.12 ml/dl/min). Combined compression and ice resulted in similar CBF values (0.78±0.17 ml/dl/min) as the compression condition, whereas the ice condition had minimal effect on CBF (1.46±0.17 ml/dl/min). Systemically, as per design, heart rate and blood pressure were relatively stable across all four trials. The present results indicate that compression, alone or in combination with ice, does not increase CBF as measured by venous occlusion plethysmograph, at rest in trained males. Further, CBF was not attenuated during the ice alone condition. Taken together, the marketed effects of this product are questioned in the present experimental setup

Permission Statement

This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes.


Undergraduate research


Exercise Science | Sports Sciences