The benefits of compression socks for running
Compression socks are the latest trend to sweep the fitness world off its feet, or to cover said feet in tight, knee-high socks.
That's right, knee-high socks, or at least in most cases. Compression socks have attempted to bring a new, more youthful life to the whole knee-high sock thing with vibrant colours and patterns.
While marathon runners have been sporting compression socks for a while now, the trend is less popular among the trail runners. Slowly but steadily though, the compression technology is fast catching up in Australia. But is this yet another fashion fad or do compression socks really help? Let’s find out.
What do compression socks actually do?
Elderly members of the society might wear knee-high socks for circulatory reasons. These socks haven’t generally come from a sock shop, they have been prescribed by a doctor and they generally come in shades of beige.
However, these socks have been found to serve a valuable purpose as they stimulate circulation in the legs, even a good thing for those of us stuck in a hospital bed for days or weeks on end.
Compression socks are tight and elastic and their job is to compress veins, arteries, and muscles in the lower legs, stop blood from lingering in the feet and channel that blood back to the heart.
It seems to make sense and compression socks have become standard issue in medical circles for sedentary patients who are required to encourage their lower body circulation.
The fitness world has now latched onto this benefit.
Enter compression socks for running
More particularly, for runners and athletes. New product developers have tried to use the lower leg circulation in terms of fitness.
This is based on scientific knowledge that better blood flow through the lower legs for marathon runners means more endurance and quicker recovery.
But has it actually worked?
Not really. So far, most runners who have tried out these knee-high compression socks have been rather underwhelmed; they’ve merely run the same times with the same level of fatigue. Still, early days and compression socks do still have a use for runners even if it’s only post-run as they can help to reduce muscle fatigue and speed recovery.
Looking for ways to improve your endurance? Read our blog on Strength Training: Where to Start?
Can wearing compression socks be harmful?
Well no, as long as you don’t make them as tight as a tourniquet, compression socks for running will be nothing more than firm-fitting socks and should do you no harm.
So it’s really up to you. If you’re an athlete who spends a lot of time sitting going to and from races, compression socks can stimulate your circulation.
As for their benefits on the run? Nothing suggests you should ditch your ankle socks just yet.