A guide to recovery compression socks
Compression socks have been around for decades, but it’s only in the last few years that they’ve become popular in the running community. Compression socks are now a staple piece of kit for most runners, who find that wearing them after a run helps their recovery and improves future performance. Read on for our guide to the benefits of compression socks and our answers to the most common questions surrounding them.
Our muscles during exercise
The amount of oxygen our muscles require in order to perform increases when we train. During intense exercise, the need for oxygen often exceeds our body’s ability to produce and transport sufficient oxygen to the working muscles. In an effort to balance the body’s pH levels and provide an alternate energy source during the exercise, lactic acid is produced.
Lactic acid, although useful for a short period of time, can cause muscle cramp, a burning sensation, muscle weakness and even the risk of nausea if not dissipated quickly after exercise. It can also hinder recovery and subsequently, athletic performance during your next session (if your next session is in the next few days).
What do recovery compression socks do?
The primary function of recovery compression socks is to add pressure and support to the lower leg and foot. This compression forces the veins near the surface of the leg to contract, thus forcing blood to flow through them more quickly. As a consequence of this increase in blood flow, more oxygen and accompanying nutrients are delivered to the legs and feet, helping to replenish that which was lost during exercise. The increased blood flow also serves to remove the lactic acid build-up, thus reducing the muscle pain it often causes. As a result, recovery times are far shorter and far more effective, allowing you to return to your training sooner and with a lower risk of injury than could be achieved without recovery socks.
Compression socks also help to minimise small shocks and vibrations to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that walking and general movement can cause. As a result, people claim that this attribute further aids recovery and reduces the risk of injury post-exercise when our bodies are more vulnerable. Additionally, compression socks provide ventilation and are antimicrobial, which helps to both keep your legs cool and fend off the bacteria associated with foot odour.
How long should I wear them for?
There’s a large body of research around the safety and efficacy of recovery compression socks. We recommend wearing recovery compression socks for a few hours after a regular workout, and perhaps a day or two after intense activity (such as running a marathon). One study found that wearing recovery socks for 48 hours following a marathon improved performance on a treadmill test two weeks later. That being said, it’s probably best not to wear them 24/7, both from a comfort and hygiene point of view. While they are antimicrobial, they can only do so much to combat odour and bacteria build-up. No contemporary research has found any conclusive evidence of any negative effects of wearing them for extended periods of time; all results have been positive.
We recommend recovery compression socks to anybody who runs or exercises regularly, which is why we developed our own. Head over to our product page to read some reviews by our satisfied customers and find the right pair for you. Our reputation as a leader in running aids earned us the prestige of being recommended by the British Armed Forces and the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt.