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Answered: Why Wear Compression Socks When Running?

Last Updated February 11, 2020

Running and Walking for Fitness
Running, jogging and walking are very popular and low-cost ways to stay fit. In the United States alone, 60 million people ran or jogged regularly in 2017. Add to that the 110 million Americas that walked to improve fitness, and you can see that this is a very popular and healthful trend. Some of these participants were training for competitions, but most of these people do it for health, fitness and fun.
There are numerous health benefits associated with running. As a form of aerobic exercise, it reduces stress, exercises your heart, trims excess weight and builds bone and muscle strength. It is known to improve sleep. Once you get used to it, it can also be mentally reinvigorating. It is even known to be effective in combatting depression. Some physiologic experts even think that our bodies, given the shapes of our hips and feet and length of our legs, were specially designed for running and walking.
Along with the numerous benefits, runners and walkers can have several medical issues that can crop up and spoil the fun. Many of these concerns involve the legs and feet, which is understandable because these are the principal body parts propelling this exercise. Common injuries that can affect runners include shin splints, runners knee, hamstring pulls, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Some of these injuries can nag for more than a few days.

Why Compression Socks for Running.
Many of the injuries that runners and walkers face can be alleviated by using compression socks, which provide gentle to moderate pressure to the legs and feet. Compression is focused on increasing blood circulation. The veins and vessels just under the skin are squeezed. This applied pressure strengthens veins, promotes circulation and assists in the healing process.
Indeed, wearing compression socks can even make simple foot and lower-leg soreness improve when worn during exercise. Continued use of compression hosiery after working out can further reduce swelling and soreness in the feet and legs.

Types of Compression Socks
Compression apparel includes socks, stockings, sleeves, shorts and pantyhose. This specialized clothing is used in a wide variety of medical and sporting applications. The most common compression hosiery is elastic compression socks and stockings.
Compression socks can range in length from the foot only to ankle-high, knee-high and even higher. Some compression socks provide graduated compression, where the highest amount of pressure is at the ankle, gradually decreasing further up the leg. Compression sleeves are similar to compression socks except they do not have material that covers the foot.
Because runners and walkers come in different sizes, compression hosiery is made to accommodate every-sized leg and foot. In addition to the different lengths discussed above, compression socks are designed for those with wide calves, those who prefer moisture-wicking qualities, and even those who require reinforced toes and heels.

How Much Compression is Recommended for Runners
Because compression socks are manufactured for a wide range of applications, they are available to provide differing degrees of compression. The amount of compression provided is measured in terms of pressure, in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
Most runners will find that light (15-20 mmHg) or very light (8-15 mmHg) compression socks will be the most useful and comfortable. Some runners will find that wearing firm compression socks that offer 20-30 mmHg can bring improvement to their legs and feet during and after running, whether they have become injured or not. More compressive lower-limb apparel is available through prescription and is generally used for more severe medical conditions such as edema, deep vein thrombosis and lymphedema.

So, why wear compression socks when running? In a nutshell, they have great benefits for runners and walkers. The gentle to moderate compression provided by this specialized apparel promotes the healing of many running injuries. For walkers and runners without injuries, they provide support for sore and tired feet and legs and promote overall circulation.