Serious runners have a knack for pushing their own endurance boundaries. Distance and cross country running provides challenges for the mind, spirit, and the body. Conditioning the mind and spirit is very personal, and it requires constant reevaluations regarding the love of exercise. Conditioning the body, on the other hand, is achieved through more practical means.
Every runner, at some point, becomes open to using tools that help the body perform better. These tools can be better nutritional products, sleep aids, navigation devices, and clothing options. Openness to these tools usually comes from personal experiences that are encountered during training. Each of these tools is adopted to address a specific athletic concern.
For people who enjoy running, leg fatigue and soreness is always an issue. Most runners are willing to put up with the soreness that rigorous workouts create, but solutions to common fatigue problems are welcome.
The Advantages of Clothing With Compression
The human body is a collection of soft tissues with varying densities that surround a skeleton. All of these tissues work together to power a system of body fueling, motion, and repair. What does this mean for people who love to run?
Primarily, it means that massive amounts of blood have to circulate through the body for prolonged periods. To facilitate this amazing system, blood vessels must constantly expand and contract. Runners are always standing upright. Naturally, the blood vessels in the lower legs will receive the greatest amount of stress during exercise.
This is why runners experience things like,
* Shin splints and calve cramps.
* Muscle rigidity that impedes stepping.
* Skin discoloration and broken lower leg capillaries.
* Extended periods of lower leg muscle soreness after long runs.
One of the most frustrating things for athletes is having to stop a workout because of pain and discomfort. This is true even when a high endurance level is reached. Wearing items like knee-high compression socks is a simple way for runners to minimize discomfort caused by blood vessel expansion. Understanding how long to wear compression socks is also helpful for properly conditioning the lower legs.
Compression socks create pressure that prevents blood from pooling in the lower legs. They maintain skin surface tension that,
* Reduces the occurrence of edema, bruising, and vein wall breakdown.
* Aids in efficient muscle fiber contraction for endurance.
* Prevents the premature buildup of waste materials in muscles from blood circulation.
* Minimizes body heat loss.
In short, when a runner wears compression socks, they vastly increase the ability of their lower legs to withstand a long workout. They also increase their ability to recover after a workout.
Aren’t Compression Socks Normally for People With Bad Health?
Doctors have been prescribing compression socks for people with circulatory problems for decades. When these items are worn on the legs, they assist with the function of veins and tissues. People with medical problems like diabetes have to wear these socks to prevent things like broken blood vessels.
Strangely enough, a runner’s lifestyle can put stress on the legs similar to someone with a blood disease. The difference is that a runner has a much more conditioned body to recover than a patient. Still, doctors have known for years that wearing compression gear is a great way to help the body with all sorts of recovery issues.
Medical socks are graded up to 50mmHg. This grade of sock is normally prescribed for people who have serious vein health issues, or problems during life stages like pregnancy. The grade of compression sock is important to know if a person is treating certain conditions.
Quality compression socks for runners are graded with a compression level of 20-30mmHg. This is considered to be a moderate level. It is sufficient for vein and skin protection, but it allows the free flow of blood volumes during a rigorous workout.
In a medical setting, compression clothing is used to alleviate difficult symptoms. For athletes, compression gear is a preventative measure that optimizes performance.
Post-Workout Compression Sock Use
Running is a lifestyle. Endurance training isn’t something that just happens. When a person decides to condition their body with overland exercise, they choose to put their body through a unique type of stress. Fortunately, this stress is very beneficial.
There is no doubt however, that long distance training can take its toll on the integrity of certain body parts like the lower legs. Pain and body transformation is a facet of becoming a better athlete, but there are ways to make the transformation easier. Compression socks for running is one of them.
Many runners encounter the problem of how long to wear compression socks and other specialized articles of clothing. If compression helps to protect active legs, can’t the protection last beyond workout sessions?
The answer is yes, but for how long?
Great compression gear for running is comfortable overall because of several factors. These include,
* Proper compression grades that do not cause muscle fatigue.
* Restriction bands that are ergonomically placed.
* Construction using materials that are comfortable and versatile.
Training gear with compression is different from medical compression gear because of material blends. Compression sports gear is typically made with a combination of Nylon and Spandex fibers. This type of blend is amazing in that it retains compression strength no matter how it is stretched. It also keeps its original form after being worn many times. Medical compression gear is much less forgiving. It must be replaced regularly.
Do you ever, as a running athlete, ask yourself, “How long should I wear compression socks?” You might be surprised to learn that it is longer than you think.
The best compression socks are made with the goal of optimizing blood circulation during workouts. Though the idea is to prevent negative blood pooling, it is never achieved through overly tight restriction. Socks with a medium compression value, a proper material blend, and a good fit can be worn well after a run is finished.
Formal Studies About Wearing Compression Socks
Most clinical studies regarding the use of compression socks for runners concentrate on how they affect performance. The results conclude that socks have very little affect on overall running times. In contrast, the studies show that these socks have a marked positive affect on things like recovery times.
One Australian study provides evidence that compression socks vastly improve muscle recovery when worn for prolonged periods. This study also indicates that there are virtually no negative side effects of wearing compression socks for long periods of time.
This study showed that compression socks had little effect on things like a runner’s time for distance, but they had a huge affect on the runner’s exhaustion points. Socks with a rating from 20-30mmHg delayed muscle cramping and lower leg pain.
Further, this study showed that runners in a controlled test environment benefited from wearing compression socks up to 48 hours after their trial run for the study. There was about a 6% improvement in recovery time when socks were worn after the tests. These runners experienced quicker recoveries without any noticeable body side effects.
What Does This Mean for Runners?
If you have recently started wearing compression socks for your running workouts, you’ve probably noticed that they really help with minimizing lower leg problems. The question you struggle with is knowing how long you should wear compression socks?
Since there are virtually no clinical negatives to wearing them, the answer lies in personal preferences. Compression socks reduce intra-workout edema and post-workout waste material pooling. Knowing how long to wear socks has everything to do with how long it takes you to recover from a normal running workout.
The outcomes of many clinical studies show that wearing compression gear for long periods after a workout is absolutely safe. Can you wear compression stockings 24 hours a day? Yes! Wearing them for up to 48 hours is acceptable if you have particularly stressful problems with reducing muscle soreness.
One interesting observation in the study mentioned above was the need to remove compression stockings immediately after a workout. It is common for runners to have the need for removing socks after a run because of the tightness in their lower legs. This discomfort is attributed to muscle tightness and temporary edema near the skin’s surface. The therapeutic pressure of compression socks brings attention to the pooling blood, and it can cause notable pain. Once the compression socks were removed for several minutes, pain subsided, and the compression socks again felt very comfortable to wear.
The Key to Compression Sock Benefits
The idea behind wearing compression sock styles for running performance is finding the right type of pressure. Socks that are too loose on the leg will provide little benefit. They can also slip down the leg during body movement.
Socks that are too tight can restrict normal blood circulation, pinch the skin, and leave marks. Socks that are too tight can actually hinder a runner’s performance.
The key is to find the right size of socks to wear. This information is usually provided by clothing manufacturers who have the needs of athletes in mind. Though there is a great amount of “wiggle room” when it comes to compression sock fitting, it is always advisable to consider manufacturer recommendations.
A sock that fits correctly should feel like a snug second layer of skin. There should be even pressure at all points in the lower leg. These include the sides of the feet, the calves, the shins, and the area just behind the knees. This is one of the big differences between athletic compression and medical compression. Because of their tightness, medical compression socks can be continually uncomfortable. Socks for runners should feel like they are helping blood to flow and muscles to remain pliable.
How long can you wear compression socks? Finding the proper fit will influence the answer to this question. Serious runners put tremendous strain on their lower legs. It takes time for them to recover at the cellular level.
For this reason, runners should not be afraid to wear socks throughout the entire day. This includes wearing them to bed. Compression will help lower limb blood flow during periods of rest. In turn, the body will be able to deliver nutrients to stressed muscles and soft tissues more efficiently. Wearing compression socks to bed, in a sense, conditions the body for future workout sessions.
Final Thoughts: How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks?
Compression socks are a powerful item in your “runner’s toolbox.” If you are prone to lower leg tightness, post-workout soreness, and general edema issues, consider them to be a must for every workout.
If you “feel” that they are assisting your muscles long after running, it is probably a good idea to make them a staple of your wardrobe. Wearing them between 24 and 48 hours at a time is especially smart if you stagger your workout days, and if you have a job that requires long periods of sitting. Even if your body is not in motion, compression socks can optimize blood flow in your lower legs.
There is also nothing wrong with removing and replacing compression socks several times per day. Wear them for an hour, and take them off for an hour. This regimen can produce a massage effect in the leg muscles.
It is likely that once you find the best pair of compression socks, you will want to wear them for as long as they provide a positive physical benefit. For this reason, take your time in choosing the right pair.
Look for quality materials and construction. Try to buy them from a supplier that offers to answer questions about wearing them. If you have chronic lower leg problems, always consult with a physician about what socks are best for you.
Celebrate more productive workouts, faster recovery periods, and continual daily comfort with compression socks!