Why Runners Should Be Wearing Compression Socks
Compression socks have long been used by nurses and diabetics, but more recently have become widely popular with marathon runners and people in the running community. Long distance runners have been using these socks for years for the endurance benefits they can provide to your body.
Typically when you see someone wearing bright knee-high socks they could be seen as outrageous or tacky. However, they have become so popular among athletes and people who train due to the plethora of benefits.
What Are Compression Socks For Runners?
Compression socks are specifically designed to help control blood flow in your legs and feet. By doing this they will help or stop the occurrence of venous disorder, especially thrombosis. These socks can be dated back to the 15th century when Doctors would wrap tight garments or bandages around someones leg to help with bleeding or different ailments.
The socks are made from a special fabric with elastic fibers and rubber and are tighter than your typical pair of white socks. Don’t worry! They aren’t uncomfortable, its actually the opposite!
Past studies have shown an increase in blood flow, and a major boost in how your legs recover after a marathon or hard run. They increase circulation in your legs which in turn will lower lactic acid build-up in your system. Compression socks first came about in the medical field to help with DVT and Varicose Veins and they didn’t look all that appealing. However, runners can now get them in many more styles and patterns!
Who Needs Compression Socks?
If you’re a runner, you may decide to wear your socks while racing or training, or even after a run. You should consider getting compression socks if you’re one of the following:
- If you’ve just had surgery
- If you have circulation problems, like DVT, Diabetes, or Varicose Veins
- If you take long breaks between your running
Others that would also benefit from compression socks are the elderly, pregnant women, athletes, or people who stand or sit all day.
How Much Compression Do I Need?
There are different levels of compression, these levels are measured in mmHg. For example, graduated compression socks will be tighter around the ankle and get looser as they go up your leg. This can be tricky. The compression socks should feel tight around your legs but not too tight as it might become annoying and even painful. Runners should look for socks with mild compression, with low numbers like 15-20 mmHg.
If you have a medical issue such as DVT, you’ll wanna get something higher more in the range of 20-40 mmHg.
6 Benefits From Wearing Compression Socks
- Compression socks will reduce swelling in your feet and ankles. They can also be a good treatment option for varicose/spider veins in people who put a lot of pressure on their feet.
- Relieves aches and pains in your legs. We’ve all had that feeling after a run where your legs feel like jello. Compression socks will help your legs DURING your run but more importantly AFTER your run when it comes to recovery.
- Pain relief. After a long running sessions the socks will help relieve muscle soreness and stiffness in your legs and feet. A study done at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, showed that athletes who use compression socks have a shorter recovery time then athletes who don’t wear them.
- Warmth. Will help keep those leg muscles warm and loose, which in turn will reduce the chances of a muscle pull or injury. This will help runners who get foot inflammation after a run. The heat will help relax the tight muscle and improve blood flow helping eliminate lactic acid.
- DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Exercise is meant to break down your muscles, especially when it comes to running. It will affect your muscles even more if you don’t work out or run often. Getting much more sore than you’re used to. Those next 1-2 days can be very uncomfortable if you suffer from DOMS. To prevent this, it’s crucial to wear compression socks during and after your run or training session.
- Protection. A lot of runners go off route or on trails. If you’re running in rocky or wooden trails you want to have your legs protected from cuts and dangerous plants such as poison ivy.
Runners wear compression socks for variety of reasons, ranging from overall comfort, performing better during or after their run, and to prevent certain medical conditions. Running isn’t easy, especially as we age. If you believe you’re already having issues with your legs or feet then consider making things easier on yourself and get a pair of compression socks for your next run. Better now than never.