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Updated on March 31, 2014
Compression socks might seem like the latest hype in the running community. You’ve probably seen them on the trails, at starting lines or on friends who are looking for some extra recovery on rest day.
But they’re more than just glorified tube socks. They have running-specific benefits that can help you perform better and recover faster.
The recovery aspect is the biggest plus touted with wearing compression socks. Medical-grade compression socks have long been used as a way of relieving pressure in the legs. They’ve made their way into the running community as a way of making legs feel fresh and ready to fly after a killer workout. Compression socks hug the calf like a kid hugs his favorite blanket. This increases blood flow, which thus increases oxygen flow. And more oxygen means you can get back out to your favorite route in no time.
Because compression socks tightly hold muscles, bones and tendons, the leg vibration that occurs upon footstrike is minimized. This vibration is the result of the impact forces that saddle your gait when your foot first touches the ground. The idea is that this muscle vibration could contribute to DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. (We’ve all been there, right?) So if we can minimize this extra stress in the first place, there will be less time between workouts.
If your usual routes include tackling trails and single tracks, compression socks could be a good option to keep the nicks and scraggles at bay. They’ll protect ankles and calves from being the victims of any rogue branches, mud or any other trail abrasions you might encounter by giving you just one more layer of protection.
As any runner knows, what you think you can achieve is a huge component of what you actually accomplish. Likewise with compression garments, if you feel more refreshed after you wear them, then they did their job. Many studies focused on compression gear agree that the placebo effect is a strong variable when studying compression benefits.
Are compression socks a must in your training arsenal? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.