Compression Therapy: Wellness as Well as Recovery?

A video titled “The Physics of Venous Drainage” on the website of the American Venous Forum features Sergio Gianesini, MD, saying, “The calf muscle is considered a peripheral heart that propels the venous blood back to the lungs in order to be detoxified and re-oxygenated.” What an elegant way to describe why running and even walking are good for your heart! By exercising your calf muscles, you increase your overall circulation, which reduces the heart’s workload and improves the transport of oxygen to the rest of your body. While oxygen transport is a principle purpose of your circulatory system, that system has another function as well: carrying away toxins, particularly lactic acid, that are created by almost any sort of physical activity. Can you get the benefits of enhanced blood flow without exercising your calf muscles? Yes, with compression therapy.

In another part of the video, Dr. Gianesini explains, “blood pooling in the lower limbs leads to an accumulation of lactic acid and other waste products.” That means that anything you can do to keep the blood from pooling is going to help with recovery and probably improve your overall health. And keeping your blood from pooling is one of the goals of compression therapy.

At Peak Recovery & Health Center, we offer RecoveryPump pneumatic garments for compression therapy. These are garments that don’t just put pressure on a particular part of your body, but systematically apply pressure and release in patterns designed to enhance blood flow, which in turn promotes oxygenation and detoxification. They aren’t limited to the lower legs, either. We can provide compression therapy for your entire legs, for part of your legs, for your arms, or for your torso. It’s like having the benefit of Dr. Gianesini’s “peripheral heart” without having to walk or run. This technology, which is called peristaltic pneumatic compression, has been clinically proved to reduce lactic acid concentration and speed recovery from athletic efforts.

While compression therapy has been tested extensively as a technique for athletic recovery, little attention has been paid to its promise for promoting circulatory health in a wellness context. The American Venous Forum, for example, is still defining compression therapy as special socks, which you wear all day long. But if you have swelling in the legs or other symptoms of circulatory problems (or are concerned you might be at risk), why not talk with your doctor about whether your veins can tolerate peristaltic pneumatic compression? Then consider booking a 30-minute session at Peak Recovery & Health Center. For a brief — and painless — half hour, you’ll get enhanced blood flow that flushes waste products from your cells naturally, reduces inflammation, and can improve both flexibility and range of motion.

Photo: “If only calf muscles won bike races…” by MollySVH. Creative Commons license.