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Muscle Compression Machines

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If you’ve done a race or trained with a group of runners recently, you’re sure to have seen people wearing compression socks.

You can be as bold or as subtle as you want...

Though once only used by elite athletes and people with circulation problems, the advantages of these socks made them explode on the market for runners. Don’t let their recent popularity fool you, there’s more to these socks than just a fleeting fad.

Paula Radcliffe has been wearing compression socks for years. Look closely to see her nude colored pair. (Getty Images)

Known for improving blood flow and lessening muscle vibration, compression socks are a tool to consider keeping in your gym bag. When worn during running, the socks help prevent the pooling of blood and lactic acid in the leg muscles as well as controlling vibration the muscles endure upon striking the ground. For some, this may mean they can run faster or longer without feeling the effects or hindering performance. Other runners choose to wear the socks after a hard training session for improved recovery. Again, the compression feature aids in flushing out soreness causing lactic acid and helps continue fresh blood flow through tired muscles.

One of the newest running gadgets takes the idea behind compression socks one step further. Muscle compression machines essentially provide the same benefit of compression socks in a more efficient and more concentrated manor. According to the Toronto Star online, the use of these machines has become extremely popular amongst elite athletes preparing for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Canadian triathlete, Paula Findley, uses a muscle compression machine to recover after a hard workout. (Donna Spencer/The Canadian Press).

Athletes insert their legs into the compression pants while the attached pump fills the leg chamber with air to compress the muscles.  The air pulsates on a regular cycle to allow for maximum circulation enhancement. Muscle compression machines typically range over $5,000, though one company hopes to release a model for $1,700 soon. While scientific research hasn’t been able to catch up and prove the effectiveness of the machines, many believe it’s a matter of time before the data is published to support usage. Olympic athletes heading to London this summer aren’t waiting around for science to say it’s so, many feel if they aren’t using these machines they will be at a disadvantage because so many of their peers are.

We love new running gadgets (even if we just dream of using them at times!).

If money were no object, what would you splurge on to enhance your running?