Many athletes, especially runners, are looking for ways to further improve their racing skills. Compression equipment is considered to be at the very top of equipment for people engaged in more intense physical activity.
Compression socks are still by far the most popular, but the question here is are tight socks dangerous?
Can compression socks do you any harm?
Can compression socks do you any harm?
There are a few answers these questions, but to begin with, the basics of human body anatomy must be explained. We all know that the blood in our veins constantly has to work against gravity to find its way back to the heart, but sometimes there are factors that impede this flow. Poor circulation, weight problems, weakened veins are the most common examples. When slow circulation is combined with the accumulated lymph fluid that causes the lower limbs to swell, we get tired, swollen and heavy legs with an increased risk of varicose veins formation and, in more severe cases, deep vein thrombosis.
What are compression socks and what makes them special?
Compression socks are a special type of elastic socks that support healthy blood circulation and help prevent various medical conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, as well as varicose veins.
The pressure (compression) that these socks place on the joints and feet tightens the arteries and veins, helping the vein valve to function properly and return blood to the heart without obstruction.
Do you have a problem with varicose veins? What are the habits that create varicose veins? Veins occur when the so-called valvular veins are damaged and therefore blood does not flow normally through the legs to the heart. Over time, damaged vein valves can cause varicose veins.
What are the benefits of using compression socks?
Compression socks are designed to provide long-term medical efficacy, excellent comfort and good looks. The range includes different designs, colors and classes of compression to suit different lifestyles.
Compression socks cover all fields of application of modern compression therapy and stand out with clinically proven performance, unique material properties and a modern, user-friendly design.
What are the materials compression socks are made from?
Compression socks are extremely sturdy elastic socks that come in various lengths, short socks, long socks or socks that extend all the way up to the waist. Although they are not the sexiest socks that exist, this is not their function, anyway. These socks simplify blood flow by pushing the tissues of the legs and vein walls all in order to provide a freer flow of blood back to the body and prevent lymph fluid from accumulating in the lower part of the legs. Compression socks therefore act in a way that reduces the diameter of the veins. A smaller vein diameter means that the blood will flow much faster, which ultimately prevents blood clots.
Compression is measured in mmHg, and this unit of measurement refers to the strength of the sock. Socks between 8mmHg and 20mmHg provide light compression and can be used by anyone who feels they may benefit from compression. However, compression above 20 mmHg can and should only be prescribed and monitored by a doctor.
How to use compression socks?
It is extremely important to put on your compression socks in the morning, even before you get out of bed.
Sleeping horizontally makes the vein valves more functional than when sitting or standing. In a vertical position, gravity does its thing and blood flow is compromised by damaged vein valves. This is why you usually feel relief in your legs in the morning than during the day, when they are already swollen.
Putting on compression socks in the morning will keep the vein valves in proper position and support healthy blood circulation in the legs throughout the day.
If you have already developed varicose veins, compression socks can help you relieve symptoms such as:
- Heavy or sore feet
- Fatigue and pain
- Restless legs
- Night leg cramps
Certain studies indicate that runners using compression socks during training showed an improvement in performance, primarily manifested as an increase in aerobic capacity. However, when it comes to post-workout recovery, compression socks were initially used as a means of recovering by athletes, a number of studies have in the meantime proved that this thesis, at least in regards to the physiological approach, is not true. Yet, while the physiotherapy benefits of compression socks have been refuted, studies that measured the perception of pain levels after exercising in runners found that runners wearing compression socks experienced less pain and recovered faster than those who did not use compression socks.
What are the effects of wearing compression socks?
Wearing compression socks during and after running can have a positive effect on better performance, but it is certainly important to keep in mind that they are simply not miraculous. What you can expect is a slight increase in the already mentioned aerobic capacity at higher speeds, which is an extremely important item for some runners. Again, compression will not directly contribute to a faster recovery, but it can certainly have the effect of reducing pain after a workout and a general feeling of exhaustion.
The benefits of compression socks are not only reserved for athletes, whether professional or recreational. These socks can also be used by pregnant women, people at risk of DVT, the elderly (especially those with reduced movement), people with varicose veins and people who fly frequently.
What are the most common conditions that compression socks can help you recover from?
People who wear compression socks usually have swollen feet, varicose veins or pregnant women. They can wear them all day and take them off when at home. Compression socks should not be worn for more than 15 hours continuously and certainly one should not sleep with them on, as there is no need for compression while sleeping. As for maintenance, it is advisable to wash your compression socks every day, not only for hygienic reasons but also because washing returns them to their original shape and extends their usability, and it is recommended to get new socks every 3 to 6 months.
Long-distance running in recent years has been very popular with the recreational population. The increased number of specialized racing stores, the type of sneakers and other aids allow runners and physically active people to choose the ideal equipment to achieve their goals and good results. One of the options is compression socks. Some runners and coaches will tell you that one cannot run a marathon without them, but is there solid evidence for that? Do they have any negative outcome?
The parameters on which success in long-distance running depends (21km, 42km, ultramarathon) can be divided into physiological and psychological. There is strong evidence that compression socks and clothing do not have a significant effect on physiological parameters. This is primarily related to oxygen uptake, running speed around the anaerobic threshold, and heart rate.
It is important to emphasize, that compression socks have a relatively weak positive impact on the running itself. To put it simply, if you want to invest money in buying compression equipment for better results – there is no firm evidence that compression socks will make a significant contribution to this. But on the other hand, if you are worried about any side effects, note that there aren’t any as long as you are following the instructions and use them properly.
Stretching, massages, ice and more are just some of the tools that people use to recover from strenuous training and relieve pain. Compression equipment, especially socks fall into this category. But there is indeed a positive impact of compression equipment on post-race recovery. People who use compression socks have the ability to delay onset of muscular inflammation and get a faster recovery after prolonged physical activity.
In addition to physical recovery, psychological regeneration is also an important part of the process of recovery and recovery after hard training. More researchers have emphasized in their work the role of the runners’ perceptions of the impact of compression clothing on their running. The comfort that runners feel using compression socks can have a positive placebo effect on recovery itself.
Will it help?
Taking into account the length of the races, the discomfort and muscular effort that runners feel, we can say that buying compression equipment is justified. Although it can help delay the onset of fatigue and “feeling heavier” in the legs during the race and effort, their use will be more felt the day after the race and training. Faster regeneration and recovery will allow you to better prepare for your next training and race. However, if you think that just by buying compression supplements will help you achieve better results in racing, think again.
Where can you buy compression socks from?
You can buy compression socks at a pharmacy if they have been prescribed by your doctor. You can also buy them online and at all better stocked drugstores. The price can range from around $10 to several hundred, thousand dollars, depending on the brand and compression. Socks with less compression are mostly cheaper than those with higher compression. Before buying it is best to ask for a recommendation or to talk to your doctor who will recommend you socks with the right level of compression for your condition.