Compression in the treatment of acute muscle injuries in sport

Kraemer, William J.; French, Duncan N.; Spiering, Barry A.
September 2004
International SportMed Journal;2004, Vol. 5 Issue 3, p200
Academic Journal
Strenuous physical exercise can induce damage and injury to muscle tissue that is manifested as soreness, a decreased range of motion, swelling, pain, and impaired functional capacity. Compression is a therapeutic technique widely used in the treatment of muscle and other soft tissue injuries, though evidence in support of this remedial therapy has until recently being largely anecdotal. Recent scientific research has indicated that external compression can be an effective treatment that minimises swelling, improves the alignment and mobility of scar tissue, and improves proprioception in an injured joint consequent to eccentric damage models and DOMS. The principles behind compressive treatment methods are based on known principles affecting the lymphatic system, reducing oedema, skeletal muscle contractions, local pressure gradients, and the influence of gravity. The rationale for applying compression to injured tissue are, (i) its theoretical ability to reduce oedema via the creation of an external pressure gradient, (ii) by reducing the space available for swelling to accumulate, haemorrhage and haematoma formation can be decreased, and (iii) providing mechanical support that can facilitate the capacity to produce force which is critical for rehabilitation. Compression involves a "dynamic immobilisation" strategy that allows for greater neural input and the capacity for limited movement during the recovery process. This treatment protocol represents an easily administered therapy that can be used effectively without great financial cost.


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