Compression socks can keep your legs from getting tired and achy. They can also ease swelling in your feet and ankles. Some athletes, including runners, basketball players, and triathletes, wear compression socks and sleeves on their legs and arms. The theory is that, during activity, better blood flow will help get oxygen to their muscles, and the support will help prevent tissue damage. Afterward, the increased blood and lymph circulation will help their muscles recover more quickly. As a result, they will not be as sore, and they will not cramp as much.
According to Wed MD, studies show compression socks and sleeves have little to no effect on athletic performance. Nevertheless, some people swear by it. The evidence for faster recovery is better, but according to Web MD, it is still not enough to make a difference for non-competitive athletes. However, I am one of those people who swear by it. Why? Because when I run 26.2 miles with compression socks, my legs feel significantly better than when I run without them. My calves do not get as tight and I feel that I do not “suffer” nearly as much during the run. Is that a function of my training and not a function of the socks themselves? Maybe. But the bottom line is that when I am wearing compression socks, I perceive that I suffer less. And as a result, I can train more. And, therefore, my fitness improves. The end result is that my performance during the run improves and I recover faster. And I recover even faster when I wear them to sleep after a long run. So, I am a believer.
I used to only wear compression socks for recovery because I was concerned that they would increase my body temperature and make me feel hot during the run. One day I noticed that a friend who is a competitive runner (the kind of person who actually wins races) was wearing them during her races and I asked her about that. It turns out, the socks designed for running breathe really well and you do not feel warmer when wearing them. Ever since then, I have been a believer in wearing them for all my races and long training runs.
I also wear compression socks when I travel as studies have shown they do prevent blood clots. And again, traveling involves a lot of walking and often long hours on my feet. Why shouldn’t I be comfortable?
The good news about compression socks is they definitely do not hurt your performance. While the jury may be out on how much good they do, they will definitely not inhibit you. So why not give them a try for yourself and make your own decision? Here are some brands you may want to consider:
ProCompression: the basic, reliable, go-to sock that provides excellent graduated compression in a variety of colors. Sign up for their mailing list as they offer discounts all the time.
Zensah: the fun, energetic and whimsical sock. These run tighter in the calf than ProCompression and the compression is less graduated. However, no one currently beats their selection of fun prints and patterns designed to accessorize any outfit!
Tiux: I recently tried these and I find them to be very comfortable with excellent compression. Another benefit is they are individually designed for the right and left foot. Not as many color options as ProCompression or whimsical prints as Zensah, but they did give me a discount code worth 30% off for all of you!