by Joanne Stacey in Health + Nutrition, image by Robert Terrell

Everything You Need To Know About Compression Socks

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You have probably already been looking for the best ways to improve your running.
There are so many options out there – on one hand, it can be rather confusing; On the other hand, it is very encouraging to see that there is so much that can be done not only to improve the speed but also the quality of your runs.

One thing that more runners are starting to use lately is a pair of compression socks. Still, there seem to be some questions floating around about these socks. People wonder if they really work or if they are just more of a “fashion” statement. They wonder if they are going to help, and if so, how. Well, the following should answer most of your questions and will show you how compression socks really can improve your training.

Where do they come from?

Originally, compression socks were solely used by people who did the opposite of running — people who sat around all day and did nothing. Now, granted, some of them have no choice due to medical conditions or other such things that were out of their control. The basic idea was that these people were more prone to blood clots and other complications because their blood would not flow as well. In some cases, the veins themselves were to blame.

Compression socks were designed to help the blood flow down towards the feet, taking the oxygen that the body needs with it, by being more compressed near the top and lessening toward the bottom. After just a short while, people realized that these could help runners as much as people who were sitting still.

What kind of socks are out there?

Compression socks usually come in two basic styles. The first style starts at the ankle and just moves down over the foot. This will help, but it is not as drastic as the other style which starts above the calf and moves all the way down along the ankle and over the foot. This promotes the best flow all the way down from the joint.
Compression socks may take a little while to get used to since the feeling is unlike any other pair of normal socks, but it is worth it.

Benefits

Compression socks increase the oxygen flow to your lower-leg muscles. As mentioned above, oxygen is carried through your body by your blood. Thus, faster & better blood flow means more oxygen is transfered more quickly. This allows your muscles to keep working at a high level, keep them from becoming fatigued as quickly, and helps to prevent cramps.
The shin and calf muscles will be more stable and compact. Compression socks can help hold them in this state. They can increase efficiency and also lower the chance of injuring the muscles. The more compressed the muscles are, the faster blood can flow through them.

Additionally, there is this argument that compression socks also increase your aerodynamic shape, though the effect must be considered to be marginal. It is true that your legs will be more compact and that air will be able to flow around them at a faster rate. This can reduce the drag of the air on your legs so that you can move them faster through your stride. However, the socks do not make a real difference when compared to other attire that you can choose. The main benefit is still in blood and oxygen distribution. Nevertheless, compression socks certainly will not make you less aerodynamic nor slow you down.

It has been noted that these socks should also be worn after a race to impact your recovery time. More blood and oxygen will help your lower leg muscles to recover more quickly. This can make a huge difference when you have two races to run in a short period of time, since your leg muscles will not feel as tired going into the second race.

If you have any questions, agree or disagree, please do leave a comment below! Thanks and happy running!




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