If you have been to any running events lately, you have probably noticed that many athletes wear compression socks. These socks are designed to improve athletic performance. While compression socks are available in a wide variety of pressures and lengths, runners most commonly wear knee-high socks with 20-30 mmHg of compression. Fans say it helps them to avoid fatigue during long runs and recover more quickly. Read on to find out compression socks are right for you!
Compression Sock Length
Compression socks are available in many different lengths, including ankle-high, knee-high, and thigh-high. Most athletes use knee-high socks because they are commonly available and deliver the needed results. In particular, they are great at preventing blood from pooling in the feet. Knee-high compression socks are also available in a wide variety of colors, making them perfect for any style.
Compression socks are available in various pressure levels, including 15-20 mmHg, 20-30 mmHg, and 30-40 mmHg. The stockings apply graduated compression, meaning they are tighter around the ankle and less tight further up the leg. Because it is important to make sure the right amount of pressure is applied to the right part of the leg, wearers must first take accurate leg measurements to ensure they buy socks that fit properly.
Socks that are too loose will not be effective, while socks that are too tight may cut off blood flow. A properly fitted sock will feel snug but not painful. This means that the sock is effectively restricting veins, arteries, and muscles in your legs, which actually helps to improve circulation.
Improved Blood Circulation May Improve Your Running
Many people struggle with muscle fatigue during long runs. If this is true for you, compression socks may be able to help.
The compression from a 20-30 mmHg knee-high compression sock improves your circulation. This means that oxygenated blood gets delivered to your cells more quickly, giving you a performance boost. Many runners find that they don’t feel as tired while running and recover more quickly when they wear compression socks. In addition, the socks help to decrease post-workout soreness, meaning you can get back to the workouts you love sooner and without pain.
The 20-30 mmHg Compression Sock Post-Workout Boost
While 20-30 mmHg knee-high socks can help improve running performance, they can also be worn after a workout. The socks will still improve blood flow, which will in turn improve recovery time.
When you work out, tiny tears form in your muscles. Your body repairs these tears, which makes your muscles stronger than they were before the workout. Unfortunately, this process can be painful. More efficient blood flow ensures a more efficient healing process.
With less soreness, you don’t have to worry about feeling terrible after a big run. In fact, you’ll be able to get back to life and exercise sooner than ever before by wearing compression gear to help with recovery.
Compression Socks as Medical Devices
Are Compression Socks Medical Devices?
While compression socks may be trendy with runners, they are not a new innovation. Compression therapy has been used for many years to help patients who are recovering from surgery or suffering from conditions like diabetes. They have been shown to help people who become dizzy while standing as well as those who fly frequently or otherwise sit for long periods of time. Compression gear helps to prevent blood clots in these populations by ensuring blood does not pool in the feet.
Uses of Compression Gear
Different compression levels are used by different groups for different problems. People who use compression gear may do so to:
- Boost Circulation
- Improve Lymphatic Drainage
- Encourage Venous Competence
- Prevent Blood Pooling
- Alleviate Swelling
- Prevent DVT Development
- Prevent Venous Ulcers
- Prevent Blood Clot Formation
- Boost Running Performance
- Make it Easier to Stand for Long Shifts
Measuring Support Level
Compression is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Higher compression levels correspond to tighter socks. To determine which pressure level is right for you, you need to consider the reason you are wearing compression gear in the first place.
A low, 10-15 mmHg rating is great for those who spend a lot of time stand or just suffer from tired legs. 15-30mmHg levels are great for those who need to improve circulation and reduce ankle swelling. Higher levels are for serious medical conditions and usually require a prescription. Most runners opt for a mid-level 20-30 mmHg rating sock.
Why Wear 20-30 mmHg Knee-High Compression Socks
How are 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks Different?
20-30 mmHg compression stockings are great because they prevent muscle fatigue during workouts, which helps to improve endurance. Many athletes notice that their times consequently improve after they begin wearing compression gear. This mid-level compression is also great for post-workout recovery, so you don’t need to worry about having different types of socks for different purposes. Other reasons people use 20-30 mmHg knee-high compression socks include:
- Providing a Controlled Pressure to the Legs
- Application of Graduated Pressure
- Adequate Ankle Support
- Support for the Knee
- Easy Application and Removal
What about Thigh-High Socks?
In the end, the choice between thigh-high and knee-high socks comes down to personal preference. While some people appreciate the extra support of a thigh-high socks, others dislike wearing a sock that covers the knee. It can seem restrictive or make people feel too warm. While knee-high is the popular option, you should try both styles to see which works best for you. Alternatively, you may find that one height works better for races while the other works better for recovery. Wear the socks that deliver results.
Are Compression Socks Right For You?
Before you make your final decision, talk to other runners about their experiences. While there may be some who didn’t notice a difference, most athletes can give first-hand accounts of the benefits of 20-30 mmHg compression socks on athletic performance.
Studies on Compression Socks and Performance
Certainly many athletes swear by compression gear, but does the data back up these claims? There really haven’t been enough studies to determine once and for all how effective compression therapy is for runners. One study concluded that wearing compression socks after running a marathon improved performance two weeks later. Another found that they offered little to no advantage. Because of the small number of studies, most people just rely on personal experience and anecdotes to form their opinions.
What Doctors Have to Say
It is known for certain that compression socks improve circulation, making your legs feel more energized and preventing blood from pooling in the feet. For this reason, doctors have prescribed compression therapy for patients for decades. This fact alone may be enough to help you decide to wear compression socks.
How to Wear Support Hoses
- Use the Pull-On Method
- Use a Doff n Donner
- Use a One-Hand Donner
- Use a Donning Device
Give Compression Socks a Chance
Before you buy 20-30 mmHg compression socks, make sure you have taken accurate leg measurement. Otherwise, you will not likely have much success. Keep in mind too that it’s okay to adjust the compression level if you find that 20-30 mmHg is too loose or too tight to deliver results. It’s also a good idea not to try out new equipment on the day of your “big race.” Train with compression socks beforehand so that you can get used to wearing them.
After you have found your just-right Goldilocks-zone socks, share your experience with other runners. You never know who might be inspired by your story of improved performance and recovery with 20-30 mmHg knee-high compression stockings.