The Importance of Athletic Compression Socks for Training and Fitness
An understanding of the basics of blood flow is vital to understanding the importance of compression socks and compression sleeves for athletes.
Your heart is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and limbs by way of the arteries. Once your cells absorb the nutrients and oxygen, the blood is sent back to your heart through the veins.
Before the cycle starts again, however, the lungs must replenish the oxygen and nutrients in your blood. This entire process is of critical importance for athletic performance.
Running with Medical Compression Socks and Sleeves
Medical compression therapy keeps your body in alignment, decreases your exercise recovery time, prevents you from wasting energy, and improves your training efficiency and performance.
Athletic compression socks apply graduated pressure that is tighter at the angles and less tight at the knee. This type of pressure is a key component of reported performance benefits.
The compression on the leg’s surface veins, muscles, and arteries enables the blood to circulate through smaller circulatory veins. This means that blood can return to the heart more quickly, decreasing the chances of it pooling in the feet. It also aids in the elimination of lactic acid.
Wearing support medical sleeves or socks helps blood circulate better throughout the legs. Better circulation increases cellular oxygen, which improves cell function. This results in superior training and recovery for runners.
Compression Socks Help with Injury and Recovery
The Science of Running claims that one of the reasons compression socks provide a major athletic performance boost is that they decrease muscle vibration during a run. This can both increase leg power and reduce the post-workout soreness.
Another important benefit is that athletic compression socks reduce the risk of shin splints. If you have ever had shin splints, then you already know all about the aching pain they send up your calves every time you run. It can feel like they take a lifetime to heal!
Perhaps you have heard that the best treatments for shin splints are elevating the legs, applying ice, resting, and not running until your body had fully healed. What many people do not realize, however, is that the right compression stockings can also help to speed up that long recovery process!
Since they provide stability and support for your lower leg, compression stockings help to alleviate the bone and muscle strain caused by shin splints. While it is not a magical cure, this added step in recovery can get you back to your favorite athletic activities more quickly.
A full sock is preferable to a sleeve for shin splint recovery because the arch support will provide additional pain relief.
How to Choose the Best Medical Compression Socks for Training
Since everyone’s legs are different, medical running socks come in different sizes and compression levels to match calf and foot measurements. They are available in both men’s and women’s styles.
The level of compression that you need depends on numerous factors, including the size, style, and material of the stockings.
Your personal preferences also play a role. It is important to remember, however, that you do not want to wear medical running gear that is too tight. This can actually make blood circulation worse and injury recovery longer.
Good compression socks are composed of both fibers and rubber, which gives them a firmer feel than traditional socks. They are most commonly 20% spandex and 80% nylon.
Although both women’s and men’s running medical compression stockings are available in different lengths, the best compression socks for running should rise to just below your knees.
You will need to choose the correct level of pressure, which is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. The lower the number, the milder the compression.
Properly fitted socks should feel snug but not painfully tight. Although personal preference plays a role in selecting a compression level, an improperly fitted sock will cause pain or be ineffective. Most runners prefer a sock with a pressure of 20-30 mmHg.
It is also important that your compression socks are the right size and length. This is done by measuring the calves. Also, be sure to choose a fabric and texture that feels comfortable.
You will need to select different pairs of compression socks for warmer and cooler weather. Fortunately, compression socks come in a wide variety of materials including cotton, wool, spandex, nylon, polyester, and lycra.
How to Put on Compression Socks
Most of the medical gear for activity, fitness, cycling, and recovery use graduated medical compression.
This means they are tighter at your ankle and less tight at your knee. Unfortunately, while this helps circulation, it can also make them difficult to put on. For best results, smooth out socks carefully to eliminate any bunching.
Many people roll down socks that are too long. When you are wearing compression socks, however, that is equivalent to putting a tourniquet on your leg. You will restrict your blood flow and injure yourself, especially during intense activity, such as a 5k or 10k race, a marathon, or a cycling event. Save yourself the risk by getting socks that are the correct length.
Running Socks – Why Should You Add Compression?
There are many benefits to including compression gear, including:
- Enhanced Oxygen Delivery: One of the most critical aspects of your performance is ensuring there is enough blood-rich oxygen flowing to your muscles every time you go on a run.
One of the worst experiences for marathon, 5k, or 10k runners is losing calf muscle strength before the finish line. High-quality compression socks are critical for ensuring your legs have optimal oxygen delivery for the entire race.
The entire purpose of a good compression sock is to provide compression gradually. This means they must be looser on the top and tighter at the bottom. This graduation is what ensures proper circulation.
- Less Impact from Gravity: Another benefit of compression socks is that they help your legs fight off the impact of gravity when your blood returns to your heart. The stockings create pressure that helps to push fluid up your legs. The increased blood flow creates a steady supply of essential oxygen and nutrients for your legs when you most need it.
- Prevention of Swelling and Cramps: The most common reason for calf muscle fatigue is excess movement. The pressure from compression socks decreases this movement to help keep you energized.
Consequently, wearing good compression socks can also reduce the amount of effort required of your legs. When your muscles are not working quite as hard, the impact of fatigue is effectively reduced.
Furthermore, medical compression socks can help control leg, ankle, and foot swelling. As the socks squeeze all of these areas, they prevent fluid buildup.
- Decreased Lactic Acid: Every time you exercise or run, your body produces a waste produce called lactic acid. If you allow the lactic acid to remain in your muscles, you are going to be extremely sore when you wake up the next morning. Most runners are all too familiar with this problem.
The good news is that the constriction of compression socks can reduce this soreness and help to prevent it from happening in the first place. There’s no need to put off that five-mile run you had been looking forward to!
- Enhanced Blood Flow: Proper compression narrows your veins, which increases blood flow. Your blood will reach your heart more quickly, and lactic acid will be removed more quickly. If you are competing in a marathon, this is absolutely critical.
- Leg Protection: Compression stockings protect your legs from abrasions and small scratches. If there is poison ivy on your running trail, you will not need to worry. Additionally, any dirt or mud kicked up during your run will collect on your socks instead of your legs.
- Warmth: A lot of runners are more comfortable wearing shorts. When the weather is warmer, this is an excellent option. It can sometimes cause problems for runners in cooler weather, however, especially for those who do not like to wear tights.
Yet, it is still important that the muscles in your legs stay warm to prevent muscle strain. In addition, heat can relax tight muscles and aid in the removal of lactic acid. Wearing compression socks can help to keep your legs warm, even in the coldest months.
Wearing Compression Run Socks to Help with Training and Recovery from an Intense Activity
Serious athletes are always looking for new ways to improve their performance and hone their skills. Though compression socks provide numerous benefits, the idea is still new to many runners.
In the past, compression socks were mainly used in the medical field. They have been prescribed for decades to prevent and treat circulatory system issues and vein diseases. They are often used by those who have limited mobility or who are confined to bed.
Research is being done on the effects of compression for runners and other athletes, and the effects of compression on both recovery and performance have been studied in numerous trials already. New evidence has shown that using compression can be just as effective for running as it is for recovery after vein or leg surgery.
Studies of Athletic Compression Gear
There are a lot of well-known runners who swear by the benefits of compression socks, including the former record holder for the American 10,000 meters, Chris Solinsky. Other top runners such as the latest women’s marathon record holder, Paula Radcliffe, along with four-time Olympian, Jo Pavey, and the Australian long-distance runner, Benitta Johnson never go without them.
Studies have been conducted in both laboratory and field settings to test the effects of athletic compression gear. The trials tested different variables, including the type of sock used, the material of the sock, the distance of the run, and the fitness level of the participants. None of the studies showed negative results. Some even showed a positive correlation between athletic performance and compression.
Studies of Compression Stockings and Their Effect on Athletic Performance
The majority of studies conducted using real athletes as the participants have found performance benefits directly linked to compression. When all of the studies are considered, the results generally agree that compression stockings offer benefits for recovery.
Although studies do not agree on the reason, most found that muscle fatigue and soreness were decreased by using compression. Compression gear also provided quicker lactate recovery. In addition, the only point every single study agreed on was that the compression must be graduated to provide many benefits for the athlete. The compression should be strongest at the ankle, and pressure should decrease as the height of the sock increases.
Many athletes strongly believe that compression socks boost their performance and recovery speed. It is becoming more popular as more people report how it has helped with their calf strain and soreness.
So, will compression help with your run? The answer is “yes!”
Just remember that consistency is key if you really want to benefit from compression socks. This means you need to wear them every time you go for a run. This is the best way to ensure a speedy recovery.
No Adverse Effects from Compression Have Been Reported
Compression socks may provide you with the competitive edge you have been looking for.
If you are interested in improving your performance when you run, there is no reason not to give them a try.
Make certain you purchase the proper stockings size and length based on your specific measurements, then see what kind of difference it makes.