Why You Should Start Using Compression Socks
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
For years, doctors have been recommending compression socks for many medical conditions, from swollen ankles and varicose veins to preventing life-threatening blood clots. When you want to take care of medical problems with your legs, consult a physician, and use the best equipment available.
Compression socks are sometimes used by athletes during workouts because compression socks have a variety of benefits, including decreasing swelling during and after a workout. Compression socks are now also being used by athletes and trainers as part of compression therapy to boost their performance and recovery.
How do compression socks work?
Compression socks squeeze the skin from the ankle to the knee in a graduated fashion. This gentle squeezing improves blood flow back to the heart and decreases edema. For runners, be they joggers or marathon runners, compressions socks are beneficial because compression socks decrease the build-up of lactic acid in the blood during exercise. Lactic acid is the main cause for muscle fatigue and discomfort during exercise and can negatively affect an athlete's performance.
According to an independent study from the Journal of Sports Sciences, wearing compression socks during training or during a strenuous workout can help with Daily Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. Basically, wearing these socks not only enhances an athlete's performance but also provides therapy when they are recovering from any strenuous activity.
According to the study, it was found that 86% of the participants who wore these graduated compression socks did not experience DOMS after their workout. Compared to the participants wearing regular ankle socks, the ones wearing compression socks felt better after their work outs.
When choosing clothing, we always look for the right fit and high-quality construction. For socks, we follow the same guidelines. Look for the right amount of compression on the label, and don't opt for bargain compression socks just because you might save some money. The compression should be between 15-30mmHg, so it can benefit you properly.
The correct size is also important. A good sock does not get measured the same way as a shoe, so get the correct ankle and calf measurements to ensure that the sock is a proper fit.
Thirdly, follow the manufacturer's care instructions, so you can keep the socks in optimal working condition.
When training, the right equipment is just as important as the right outfit. Although you will not be wearing compression socks as a fashion choice, wearing high-quality graduated compression socks will help you recover from exercise while your body stays in its best shape.
1.Wu S, et al. Control of Lower Extremity Edema in Patients with Diabetes: Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial Assessing the Efficacy of Mild Compression Diabetic Socks. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017 May; 127: 35-43
2.Armstrong Sa, et al. Compression socks and functional recovery following marathon running: a randomized controlled trial. J Strenth Cond Res. 2015 Feb;29(2):528-33
3.Rivas E, et al. Leg compressions improve ventilatory efficiency while reducing peak and post exercise blood lactate, but does not improve perceived exertion, exercise economy or aerobic exercise capacity in endurance-trained runners. Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2017 Mar;237:1-6.