Compression Socks for Athletes
A growing trend among competitive athletes is the use of compression socks to help improve performance. Compression therapy is a hot topic in sports media right now as a growing number of triathletes, marathon runners and professional sport athletes are trying compression socks to improve their performance and recovery. That's because compression socks are designed to improve circulation to flush out lactic acid for a shorter recovery time, boost performance and provide protection and relief from injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis.
However, compression socks aren’t just for the professionals. Tons of weekend warriors and gym-goers swear by them. Whether you wear compression during your workout to keep your legs energized, afterwards to promote muscle recovery, or even while traveling, athletes are making graduated compression socks part of their everyday attire.
A number of sock manufacturers are claiming to offer “compression” socks for athletic use. Unfortunately, many of these so-called “compression” socks do not have true graduated compression. Instead, they may feature a tight foot band, bright colors or vertical stripes, plus a wide variety of other useless features meant to imply foot or leg support. Make sure to look for a compression level, measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury) when you’re buying compression socks. Compression socks should also be knee high length to get full benefits of compression.
If you want to wear compression leg sleeves instead, this is mostly up to your personal preference. Leg sleeves also allow you to get the benefits of compression, but still wear your favorite running socks as well.
Compression Socks For Performance
Athletic compression socks are designed to improve circulation, reduce fatigue and prevent injury like shin splints. For performance, athletes tend to wear 20-30 mmHg compression socks for longer endurance and to support muscles and ligaments. Many athletic performance socks are made from a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric to keep your feet cool and dry. Socks that are woven with copper or silver are anti-microbial to prevent odor and bacteria so your feet smell fresh after your workout.
Here are some of our favorite athletic performance socks:
The Sigvaris Outdoor Performance Sock is made with Australian Merino wool, which is anti-microbial, itch-free and absorbs moisture to keep your feet dry while exercising. Despite popular belief, compression socks made with wool are very soft and not only keep your legs warm in the colder months, but will also keep your legs cool in the summer too!
CEP compression socks and sleeves come in lots of fun colors for men and women to help boost performance, prevent shin splints and keep you moving! CEP is made by Medi, so you know that you will be getting a quality product. This brand is very popular with the younger athletes.
Jobst Sport Compression Socks for men and women are lightweight, breathable and soft. These socks also provide moisture control and help to prevent odor to keep your legs fresh and comfortable. Made with a padded foot to absorb impact, these socks are especially great for runners.
If you’re looking for lots of color options, the TheraSport Performance Compression Socks are designed with moisture-wicking, anti-microbial fabric and features a cushioned heel and foot to reduce impact. These socks are made for men and women for maximum endurance and energy. TheraSport Compression is also available in calf sleeves.
Compression Socks For Recovery
After a grueling workout, put on a pair of 15-20 mmHg compression socks to flush out lactic acid from your muscles. This speeds up muscle recovery and helps to reduce fatigue and swelling. After a marathon or tough gym workout, compression socks will have your legs feeling great the very next day. Wear compression socks for at least a couple of hours after physical activity, but do not sleep in compression socks unless your doctor tells you otherwise – not all compression garments are safe to sleep in.
Here are some of our favorite compression socks for recovery:
The Allegro Athletic Recovery Sock is one of our best selling athletic socks. Designed for men and women in 4 colors from a super soft material that will sooth your legs and make them feel better in no time – even after a tough workout! These socks feature a ribbed pattern so you can wear them to work or while running errands for continued recovery.
TheraSport also makes an Athletic Recovery Sock and Recovery Leg Sleeves for men and women. These come in a variety of colors and provide graduated compression to increase circulation and reduce inflammation to help your muscles heal faster.
Sigvaris Athletic Recovery Socks are made with DriRelease and FreshGuard to eliminate odor and moisture. These compression socks are great to wear during your workout or afterwards to relieve delayed muscle soreness. Designed for men and and women to flush out lactic acid to reduce fatigue and swelling.
Athletic Leg Sleeves
Calf sleeves are also great to wear while exercising if you want to wear your favorite pair of ankle socks or shoes. Compression leg sleeves come in a variety of colors and patterns in 15-20 and 20-30 mmHg. These are also great to wear everyday with a pair of open toe shoes or flip flops for continued recovery. Many athletes wear calf sleeves while working out to stabilize and support muscles and to prevent shin splints.
Who Can Benefit From Athletic Compression?
Performance socks and sleeves are great for marathons, triathlons, biking, golfing, crossfit, and working out at the gym. Compression socks also benefit skiers and snowboarders who are on the slopes for long days. A study in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that 86% of participants reported NO muscle fatigue and soreness after extended strenuous activity when they wore compression socks, compared to only 7% that felt no muscle fatigue after wearing regular socks.
Athletic compression socks are the new fitness essential for everyone from dedicated competitors to the occasional exerciser. Whether you want to get in shape or are looking to gain a competitive edge, compression will help you surpass your fitness goals in no time.
Another great reason to wear compression socks is to help prevent and relieve shin splints. Shin splints refers to pain, soreness and tenderness in your lower leg along the shinbone. Symptoms can also include minor swelling as well.
Shin splints is very common among runners (especially beginners) and develops when runners switch up their routine, or are running too far, especially on uneven surfaces. Usually, your most dominant leg is affected. This pain can feel so severe that it will keep you from running or working out. If you are a new runner, make sure you don't push yourself! You want to increase the distance you are running gradually to avoid injuries like this.
You may be at risk of shin splints if:
- You barely stretch or don't at all
- Run on uneven surfaces
- Have flat feet or high arches
- You are new to running or are running long distances
- You start exercising more frequently and/or intensely
- Wearing worn out shoes or shoes that lack support
- Have had shin splints in the past
If you do end up with shin splints, a great tip for instant relief is to put ice on your shins to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. You can also do exercises to strengthen, prevent and recover from shin splints. Lastly, wearing compression socks or calf sleeves can help speed up recovery, reduce swelling and fatigue and provide relief for aching legs.
Here are some tips to recover from your next triathlon or marathon:
1. Foam Roller: This tool is huge in the fitness community for a reason. It basically massages your muscles to help loosen them up. Just place the foam roller on the floor and put your legs, back, arm, or whatever else needs some TLC on top and roll on it. You will be amazed how much better you feel afterwards!
2. Eating Well: As the saying goes, you are what you eat! But first things first, WATER. Drink up and then drink some more. Especially after exercising. Although every body is different, most people load up on carbs and proteins after a good run or workout. Check these articles for recommendations on meals: Runners World and USNews.
3. Compression Socks: This one's a given, but you can see why they help so much! Anything to minimize leg pain the next day is worth it!
Let's Talk Ironman
Ironman is a competition for the best of the best. In 2014, Lava Magazine reported how many of the athletes wore compression socks or sleeves. This competition involves 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around-O’ahu Bike Race, and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon, which is no easy feat! Out of the 300 people who wore compression, here is the breakdown of what brands were most popular:
BV Sport 9
Keep an eye out for the next Ironman or competition and see what brands you spot!