Study Reveals Compression Tights Don’t Help Runners Cross The Finish Line

Tights greatly reduce muscle vibration, but that didn’t translate to better performance

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Ajit Chaudhari, PhD, FACSM, monitors a runner using motion sensor technology to study the effects of compression tights on muscle vibration and fatigue.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Many distance runners swear by their compression tights to help them run farther and faster. But a new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that, although they greatly reduced muscle vibration, compression tights don’t actually reduce muscle fatigue when compared to running without them.

   “When your muscle vibrates, it induces a contraction that uses energy, so the theory was that less muscle vibration would translate to less fatigue,” said Ajit Chaudhari, PhD, who led the study and is an associate professor of physical therapy, orthopedics, mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering. “However, the reduced vibration was not associated with any reduction in fatigue at all. In the study, runners performed the same with and without compression tights.”

  Study participants ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes at 80 percent of their maximum speed on two different days, once with compression tights and once without them. Motion capture technology tracked the runner’s body position within a fraction of a millimeter.

    “We also have a specialized treadmill with force sensors embedded in it that measures how hard a runner’s foot is landing, how they’re able to push off and how that changes over time,” Chaudhari said. “The runners also wore a heart rate monitor so we could measure their exertion throughout the run.”

    Participants’ leg strength and jump height were tested before and after each run, as well. And although the results showed that the compression tights did not reduce fatigue, Chaudhari says there may be other benefits. He also says that if runners feel better while wearing compression tights, that’s enough to keep using them. “There is nothing in this study that shows that it is bad to wear compression tights,” he said. “Every little bit of perception counts when running long distances, and they may be benefiting runners in ways that we aren’t able to measure.”

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Ajit Chaudhari, PhD, FACSM, monitors a runner using motion sensor technology to study the effects of compression tights on muscle vibration and fatigue.

Researchers at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center use motion detectors to measure how compression tights affect muscle vibration while running.

Ajit Chaudhari, PhD, FACSM, monitors real time data as a study participant runs on a treadmill wearing motion detectors and a heart monitor.

Researchers test a runner’s leg strength after a vigorous 30-minute run as part of a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to test the effects of compression tights on muscle fatigue.

Marathoner Matt Ithurburn feels he has better endurance while running with compression tights, even though a study by The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center found that they don’t reduce muscle fatigue.