I’m currently training for my eighth half-marathon. And being that we are in a new year (eek!), I want to make sure I elevate my running in 2022 and eat the proper fuel, stretch well, and do everything that will ensure a nice, long healthy training season and recovery.
I’m investing in myself and my running career. Now, did you know compression socks are a simple tool that can reduce your recovery time? And not just for runners, but for all athletes. Compression socks give post-race performance and recovery benefits—while looking like a crazy professional athlete.
Compression socks can improve your blood flow and energize your legs. Of course, there are so many types of compression socks, all offering different performance fabrics and levels of compression. Some have antimicrobial and wicking properties. Some focus on cushioning and breathability.
When you are looking for your first or next compression socks, focus on the key elements below.
Do compression socks actually work?
There was a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research a few years ago that showed consumers who wore compression socks for 48 hours post-marathon improved their performance by 2.6% on the treadmill after they tested.
Runners with compression socks recovered faster. Compression sock wearers note that the socks reduce their muscle pain, damage, and inflammation that they typically experience post run. Compression socks apply an amount of pressure at the ankle that gradually decrease up the leg. This pushes blood flow and circulation up the leg to prevent the ankle from swelling.
When you are looking for compression socks, avoid ones that dig into your skin and cause discomfort. If this is the case, size up. Your legs should feel supported, but not constricted.
Cool, so how is the compression measured?
Compression socks are actually medical-grade devices that have standardized pressure levels measured on a mmHg scale.
The scale goes from:
Mild (8–15 mmHg)
Medium (15–20 mmHg)
Firm (20–30 mmHg)
Extra firm (30–40 mmHg)
RX (40–50 mmHg)
Most running socks are in the mild to firm range, with RX reserved for patients with serious medical problems, like blood clots. Some studies prove 20 mmHG (medium) are the ideal amount of pressure for fast recovery.
But, as you would expect, you should experiment with different levels of pressure before deciding what’s good for you. And compression socks aren’t reserved for training only. Some elite runners and athletes wear compression clothing anytime they train, or on race day to encourage blood flow through the lower leg and calves.
Don’t forget to keep working out safe (yet comfortable) during your next training session. Have you got your breathable masks handy?