Compression Therapy for Athletic Recovery

Brianna Clark
December 26, 2019

What is compression therapy?

Compression therapy is the use of an external force to gently apply pressure in a way that encourages fluid movement (blood and lymph) in the body. The type of compression therapy we use at The Anatomy of Wellness involves compression boots that fit comfortably around the length of the lower extremities. Starting at the feet and moving toward the trunk of the body, the boots inflate and deflate with air that is pumped through the boots rhythmically to encourage fluid movement from the lower extremities back into the central circulatory or lymphatic system. The intensity of the compression is adjustable and you may choose to relax in the boots for 30 or 45 minutes.

What does compression therapy do?

The main purpose of compression therapy is to encourage fluid movement, whether that be blood, lymph, water, or lactic acid. The “pumping” motion pushes out any fluid that has become stagnant, whether due to injury, surgery, lack of movement, weight gain, or water retention. It encourages an increase in blood circulation, flushes out toxin buildup in muscles, and brings fresh lymph to the area.

What is compression therapy for athletic recovery?

Increased circulation means that deoxygenated blood and metabolic waste are cleared from the tissues faster. Nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood can then fill the tissues speeding up the recovery process after intense exercise and training. Compression therapy for athletic recovery enables you to train harder and more frequently. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), or post-exercise soreness, can be lessened or even prevented with compression therapy for athletic recovery.

compression boots

What are the benefits of compression therapy?

Increases blood flow

Efficient lymphatic drainage

Initiates release of metabolic waste in muscles

Faster recovery from workout

Increases flexibility and mobility

Decreases muscle pain and DOMS from exercise

Reduces edema

Prevents varicose veins and blood clots

Relieves feeling of heaviness


Benefits of compression therapy for runners:

After a long run, fatigue sets in and a day or two later comes stiffness and possibly pain. Runners also need care not only to recovery but also to prevent overuse injury to the Achilles tendon, calf muscles, foot and plantar fascia. Compression boots gently squeeze the entire foot and leg, enriching the areas with fresh blood making it an ideal therapy for athletic recovery and injury prevention for runners.

Pairing compression therapy for athletic recovery and our Wellness Massage Therapy sessions or Assisted Stretch Therapy sessions an extremely effective way to care for you muscles and tendons.

Who should use compression therapy?

Athletes both competitive and recreational can benefit from compression therapy due to the immediate benefits. Training hard takes a lot out of you and if a competition, marathon, triathlon, challenge or just beating your personal best is on your agenda, it is a simple and effective therapy to incorporate into your self-care and training routine.

Standing on your feet all day can take its toll. If your job demands long hours on your feet, compression therapy will aid your body in recovery getting you back up on your feet again.

Those suffering with arthritis or joint pain can benefit from compression therapy by reducing pain and inflammation.

Traveling for business or vacation? Clear the swelling and feeling of heaviness from those legs faster with compression therapy.

How often should I get compression therapy?

Compression therapy for recovery can be used multiple times a day and multiple times a week. For athletic recovery purposes, the best times to use it are before and/or after intense exercise, training and competitions or races.


Compression therapy may not be for everyone. Contraindications for compression therapy for athletic recovery are as follows:

  • Advanced peripheral obstructive arterial disease
  • Systemic arterial pressure
  • Uncontrolled congestive heart failure
  • Abscesses
  • Septic phlebitis
  • Advanced peripheral neuropathy
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Infection
  • Fever

What should I wear during a compression therapy session?

Comfortable yet tight-fitting clothes work best.  If your clothes are too loose, as the device compresses, the fabric can bunch up and be uncomfortable.  Shorts and jeans are not acceptable to wear.

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