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Compression socks has conquered the running world.
In fact, the item has become a must-have item—for recreational and elite runners alike.
Have doubts? Then simply look around any running event, and you’ll, definitely, see more than a few runners not only in compression socks but also calf sleeves or arm sleeves.
But do these compression socks actually work? Or are they nothing but hype?
Here’s the truth.
According to research, and my own experience, running while sporting compression socks may bring more than a few health benefits, such as improving blood flow, speeding up recovery, preventing injury, and so much more.
In this article, I’ll delve into some of the main benefits of compression socks how to offer as well as share a few tips on how to make the most out of them.
Let’s get started
How Do Compression Socks Work?
Compression socks consist of sport stockings that are specifically designed to gently squeeze the lower legs.
The socks are made with stretchable materials that apply gentle pressure over the lower leg muscles to improve blood circulation, prevent the formation of blood clots and reduce pain—allegedly, of course.
The further the muscle from the heart, the greater the pressure. This means that the compression is higher around the ankle than it is around the knees.
By squeezing the muscles, the socks help your veins push blood back up the legs and towards the heart—where it gets re-oxygenated—then back again. Oxygen (along with nutrients) is what keeps your running machine tagging along—and blood is the vehicle of delivery.
Here’s the full guide compression socks for running.
Are Compression Running Socks Worth it?
Now that you know a little bit about running socks, let’s discuss if they’re actually worth it.
Scientific proof aside (and there’s plenty of it), I believe that compression can help—and they do help a lot.
They might not be the answer to all of your running prayers, but they’re actually a step in the right direction.
Let’s look at how these compression socks actually help.
1. Improved Recovery
This is the main reason runners love compression gear—and the selling point for most compression gear companies.
Here’s the oversimplified explanation.
Running is an intense, high-impact exercise that takes a toll on your muscles, the reason you experience post training soreness (and pain).
Here’s the kicker. Compression socks improve blood flow in your muscles. This, in turn, may help repair them faster, so you’re ready for your next workout. The improved circulation also helps to reduce your lactic acid buildup.
In other words, improved blood flow leads to faster recovery.
2. More Stability
Compression socks apply graduated pressure to the muscles of your lower legs, which provides additional support. This, in turn, reduced vibration and damage during training.
This can help you prevent muscle pain—both during and after training. What’s not to like.
Additional resource – Compression pants for running
3. Reduce DOMS
Delayed onset muscle soreness is a part and parcel of a runner’s life—especially those who love to push themselves.
Here’s the truth. Any type of exercise is bound to damage your muscles—running is no exception. This is the reason foot pain and other annoying issues are common among runners, especially those who are not yet adapted to the high impact—and might require a longer recovery time.
By improving circulation to your muscles, compression socks may help limit water retention and swelling that may contribute to soreness and pain.
Additional resource – Your guide to running compression arm sleeves
4. Less Swelling
For a long time, compression socks have been used to limit swelling in the feet and ankles.
They help manage spider and varicose veins in people who stand all day, like teachers, nurses, waitresses, or anyone engaging in activities that put constant pressure on the feet.
If you do any type of endurance training, you’re likely spending extended amounts of time on your feet; therefore, trying out compression socks might beneficial.
Additional Resource – The benefits of running
5. Prevent Injury
Running and overuse injuries go hand in hand. In fact, surveys report that roughly 80 percent of runners get injured at least once a year. That’s a staggering number.
Anything you can do to mitigate your injury risk is surely welcomed.
One way to help you sidestep overuse injuries, besides training properly, getting the right shoes, using proper technique (and all that), is to use compression gear.
With a mix of improved circulation and greater pain relief and protection, you’ll more than likely decrease your injury risk.
In fact, sporting compression socks may help with lower leg injuries such as shin splints, calf strains, and Achilles tendonitis.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the improved recovery rate also means sustaining fewer injuries—since some overuse injuries can be blamed on lack of recovery.
6. Provide Protection
If you do lots of trail runs through grassy and woody areas, compression socks might be a great addition to your running gear.
The stuff can help protect your legs from abrasions and scratches while you go for a run on technical, treacherous trails. The socks may also prevent your skin from contact with plants like poison ivy, which can be quite annoying.
If you’re just like me and love to wear running shorts when logging the miles, then compression socks are a great addition, especially when the weather is hot.
Compression socks also help in colder weather. They can help keep your lower legs warm even in the coldest temperatures and protect muscle strains.
Additional Resource – Here’s the full guide to calf compression sleeves for running
How to Choose the Right Compression Socks
Before you go ahead and buy your first (or next) compression sock for running, make sure to keep in mind the following:
- Get the right size. Measure your calves for proper sizing.
- Get the right fit. Too loose stocking defeats the purpose of getting a pair, while too tight will likely cause more harm than good.
- Choose graduated—lower pressure at the knees and progressively higher pressure down to your toes.
- Just like running shoes, the socks have to be comfortable—or, you aren’t going to wear them, especially during long runs.
- Don’t buy white. They get dirty super fast. And you don’t want that.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying CopperJoint compression socks, and I’m in love.
The socks were designed for runners in mind and help reduce the natural vibration associated with high-impact exercise—running is no exception.
CopperJoint compression socks are easy to wear. The toe seam is smooth, and the stocking are made with anti-microbial materials. It takes many a use for them to get stinky.
Although compression socks may not turn into the fastest runner on the block, they’re efficient enough to give a small competitive edge—and sometimes, that’s all you need to take your performance to the next level or break a new personal record.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.