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Compression Knee Sleeve

Old 07-21-14, 08:50 PM
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GravelMN
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Compression Knee Sleeve

Anyone ever used compression sleeves for their knees either for performance while riding, or for recovery afterward? How about compression calf sleeves or stockings? I've got knee warmers but they don't provide a significant amount of compression. I'm mainly looking for a drug-free way to decrease inflammation and soreness from hard training rides or after long days in the saddle.
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Old 07-22-14, 02:02 AM
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Have you had the bicycle set up properly for you? That's the most important drug-free way to decrease inflammation and soreness from hard training rides or after long days in the saddle.
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Old 07-22-14, 07:22 AM
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Some swear by compression socks after a ride. I do not have any experience in regards to it as I have never seen the need.
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Old 07-22-14, 10:09 AM
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Two things come to mind.
-First is physical conditioning. Exercises that build leg strength and fitness are very useful. As you build calf muscle, for example, the more efficient blood and fluid return. Core exercises are important. In my recent rehab it was amazing how swelling and discomfort went down as my strength and muscle development increased.
-After consulting with your physician you may want to use a prophylactic anti-informatory.

Yes, compression stockings and supports work. But there are some distinct downsides and in an athletic environment they are definitely not a long term answer. These are not the same as orthopedic braces that stabilize joints.

There are people who lay all ills to poor bicycle fit. I suspect that swelling and vascular inflammation won't be influenced very much by moving a seat a couple of mm.
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Old 07-22-14, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Have you had the bicycle set up properly for you? That's the most important drug-free way to decrease inflammation and soreness from hard training rides or after long days in the saddle.
Yep, all my bikes have been fit with the help of professionals and they fit me very well and my shoes/cleat setup and saddle/saddle position have all been addressed. My biggest problems are the sins of my youth. I was very overweight for many years, genetics gave me poor knee structure with shallow epicondyles, and I've injured them multiple times in sports, work and a car accident where I took out the dash with my right knee. My right knee is always a bit sore, even on a good day, and has been addressed by a physical therapist. For the most part, cycling has been very good for my knees as my running is very limited. I can ride comfortably for 50-100 miles and do some sprints and hill climbs. But sometimes, riding into strong headwinds, too many hills with steep grades, soft gravel/sand trails, or trying too hard to keep up with guys half my age and 50 pounds lighter, I get soreness in the right knee itself and/or in any or all of the major muscle groups of either or both legs.

As HawkOwl said, improving physical condition and leg strength has and will hopefully continue to help the problem, but to do that, I have to push myself and sometimes that leaves me sore. I can live with a lot of soreness or pain if I have to, but if there is a drug free way to avoid discomfort or speed recovery . . . well . . . cool

I don't expect that I would use the compression sleeves or socks all the time, or even that frequently, but I'm curious if they would be useful for those times I do get sore. There may be a downside to using them but the same can be said for frequent or chronic use of NSAIDS.

Last edited by GravelMN; 07-22-14 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 07-22-14, 04:16 PM
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I've found NSAIDs to be contraindicated except for the special case of tendonitis, and even then they should not be used unless necessary.

Knee problems, like back problems, respond best to careful exercise and training. Exercise may need to be targeted to resolve the problem. That said, Friel reviews several studies on compression wear here:
Joe Friel - An Update on Compression Clothing

A feeling of soreness inside the knee may be due to cartilage/meniscus damage. Frequently there's nothing to be done about that other than to train to ride in lower gears, i.e. spin faster, in the 100 rpm range even when climbing. I've ridden with older runners who are missing much of the cartilage in their knees. They spin fast and take ibuprofen. Nothing to be done, it just hurts. That said, I've had less knee pain since I've been taking glucosamine sulfate and MSM, starting about 10 years ago. I've found hiking hills to be the best cross training for cycling.
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