Using Compex to prevent ankle twists and optimise recovery from injury
Matt Jaggard, Head of Strength and Conditioning with the Delgado and Lee Pro Tennis Academy explains how Compex devices can be used to prevent ankle injuries and how to optimise recovery and rehabilitation if an ankle injury occurs.
LinkedIn: Matt Jaggard
E-book: International Travel and Tournament Preparation for Tennis
If you are an athlete of any kind then it is likely that you have experienced a very painful ankle sprain or strain. This is a highly common injury within court sport athletes. Compex can aid you by helping to prevent this type of injury from occurring and also whilst recovering if an injury has been experienced.
So how can the use of a Compex muscle stimulation device help?
First of all we need to take a look into the anatomy. This will give you a clear understanding of how the body works, what you need to target and why.
The peroneus muscles also called fibularis muscles or peroneals or peronæus, are a group of muscles in the leg. While the muscle group exists in many variations, it is normally composed of three muscles: peroneus longus, brevis and tertius.
These muscles help control key actions around the foot. They will need to be strong and robust allowing you to resist and control the very actions they allow you to perform. Something that the use of a Compex device can enhance whilst training. The reason that the use of Compex is highly effective with this set of muscles is that they are very difficult to activate.
So where are these muscles located and what do they do?
Ankle Strengthening and Injury Prevention
These muscles can be trained either statically or through a range of traditional ankle mobility, stability and strengthening exercises. This can be done by placing Compex electrode pads on the peroneus muscles and selecting frequencies between 45-70Hz. This will help to increase muscle volume similar to that experienced whilst training for hypertrophy by promoting optimised tissue formation.
Once a period of adaptation for increasing muscle volume has been completed, traditionally 6-10 weeks. It would be recommended that you move into a strength phase for a similar length of time. This requires your muscles to be exposed to frequencies between 75-100Hz.
Completing these two phases routinely will continually allow for the peroneus muscles to increase in volume and strength, making you more stable and helping you to prevent ankle sprains and strains.
Acute Injury Management and Rehabilitation
If you have experienced an ankle injury, the peroneus muscles along with tendons and ligaments around the foot and ankle would have been stretched, strained and damaged.
The use of a Compex device can not only aid with strengthen the muscles as highlighted above. They can also aid the recovery process.
During the initial phase of recovery, dealing with inflammation, Compex can help to reduce muscle soreness (1Hz). Additionally, muscle pain can reduce (5Hz) and capillarisation increased (8Hz). These varying levels of increased blood flow will help improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged region. During this phase it is recommended to place the electrode pads around the site of the injury (ankle and foot) rather than the peroneus muscles unless major trauma has also occurred in this area.
During the second phase of recovery with Compex, the profilation phase, frequencies between 10-35Hz can help minimise stiffness. Muscular atrophy can also be minimised whilst helping to manage lingering discomfort and swelling.
Once the symptoms have subsided, just like with any traditional rehabilitation, it is time to start remodelling the muscular tissue within the area which has been effected. Firstly by increasing muscular volume (45-70Hz). Then by increasing strength (75-100Hz) which are both mentioned in more detail above in ‘Strengthening and Injury Prevention’.
Integrating Compex with Air Travel
Matt Jaggard, Head of Strength and Conditioning with the Delgado and Lee Pro Tennis Academy tells us about the negative effects of air travel and how to negate these effects to maximise performance on arrival.
E-Book: International Travel and Tournament Preparation for Tennis
LinkedIn: Matt Jaggard
Air Travel and Improving Athlete Readiness with Compex
If you are an athlete competing at the top then it is highly likely that you will be exposed to a vast amount of international air travel. Travel days are not easy and they are certainly not rest or recovery days which is a point of view I have come across all too often.
Travelling has the potential to, and almost definitely will have an effect on your physiological and psychological state. The research is clear in demonstrating this with both short-haul and long-haul travel.
Direction of travel Time Zones Crossed Flight Time Findings N/A 0 1hr Enhanced cardiovascular stress. Heart Rate, Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure, Rate Pressure Product (Heart Rate x Systolic blood pressure) and Mean Blood Pressure all altered significantly. Psychological and physiological stress contributing to travel fatigue East 6 9hrs 20m Autonomic Nervous System activity assessed via Spectral Analysis of HRV. Reduced function on arrival, full volume and intensity recommended after 3 days East 5 7hrs 50m Athletic function only effected on days 3, 4 & 5. Measures back to baseline on day 6. Delayed effect. West 7 11hrs 30m Autonomic Nervous System activity assessed via Spectral Analysis of HRV. Delayed effects of travel, reduced volume and intensity recommended for day 3 East & West 7 15hrs 30m Irrespective of travel direction, reduced maximal sprint and counter movement jump performance was evident up to day 3 and 4 following travel, respectively
Fig 1. Psychological and physiological information collected on various flight lengths and directions. 1, 2, 3, 4
As you can see from the table above, athlete readiness can be immediately reduced after what seems like a simple 1hr commercial flight. Addition to a number of performance markers are heavily effected for up to 5 days following longer flights.
Competition normally start just days after arriving at a new destination. This means negating the negative effects associated with air travel should be the number one priority for all athletes. Therefore, this will help improve readiness on arrival and reduce the need to manage travel fatigue and drastically alter training plans prior to competition.
Combating the negative effects of travel and aiding athlete readiness
Compex recovery and massage programs which help increase blood flow are available on all Compex Muscle Stim products. This can be effective both during and after short or long haul flights.
Research has shown that whilst using Compex devices, frequencies between 3-9 Hz can demonstrate a 181-276% increase in blood flow5. Moreover, this will help combat the thrombosis experienced during air travel. As a result, this helps to negate negative physiological effects associated with travel and improve athlete readiness on arrival.
To explore international travel in more detail, looking at how to adapt to perform when acclimatising to heat, altitude or after crossing multiple time zones you can learn more from Matt’s book ‘International Travel and Tournament Preparation for Tennis’ with the general principles applying to all athletes and sports.
2 Botek, M., Stejskal, P., & Svozil, Z. (2009). Autonomic nervous system activity during acclimatization after rapid air travel across time zones: A case study. Acta Gymnica, 39(2), 13-21.
3 Fowler, P. M., Knez, W., Crowcroft, S., Mendham, A. E., Miller, J., Sargent, C. H. A. R. L. I., ... & Duffield, R. (2017). Greater effect of east versus west travel on jet lag, sleep, and team sport performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
4 Thornton, H. R., Miller, J., Taylor, L., Sargent, C., Lastella, M., & Fowler, P. M. (2018). Impact of short-compared to long-haul international travel on the sleep and wellbeing of national wheelchair basketball athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences, 36(13), 1476-1484.
5 Zicot, M., & Rigaux, P. (1995). Effect of the frequency of neuromuscular electric stimulation of the leg on femoral arterial blood flow. Journal des Maladies Vasculaires, 20(1), 9-13.