Compression socks originated from a medical background to aid people with limited circulation in their lower legs. They have become a favorite among athletes. They are made from elasticated fabrics and apply pressure to maintain or increase blood flow.
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The quick answer is wearing compression socks is a personal preference. There is not a ton of research that supports wearing or not wearing them. But if you think compression socks will improve your running, they might improve your running due to the placebo effect. It goes back to the old saying “if you look good; you play good”
Many sock makers claim there is a benefit to compression socks. There have been many studies to determine whether compression socks may affect running performance. For the most part, these studies have concluded that compression socks don’t have a significant influence on run performance, however, there might be some placebo-effect improvements. Compression gear does show significant benefits when it comes to recovery.
One study from 2015 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that wearing compression socks for 48 hours after a marathon improved performance by 2.6 percent on a treadmill test two weeks later. This shows that the runners wearing the socks had recovered faster. Other studies agree improving blood flow with compression socks can cause reduced muscle pain, damage, and inflammation.
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Again, it is a personal preference if you want to wear compression socks after running. Compression socks may help with recovery from running because in this stage your muscles need oxygen and nutrients. These help to heal and strengthen muscles and remove the remaining waste products such as lactic acid. The length of time you need to wear them will depend on several things:
In most cases, a few hours should be enough to have you feeling refreshed the next day.
There are generally two types of compression socks: graduated and anti-embolism. Graduated compression socks are the more common types you’ll find and what most people use. They are available in a range of compression tightness. These socks are all tightest around the ankle, getting looser the higher up the leg they go. Compression socks typically come in two lengths. They are available in knee-high and thigh-high. Full compression tights are also growing more common with athletes.
Again it is personal preference which type you choose. Anti-embolism stockings are more specific in purpose. They’re designed to help maintain circulation and prevent blood clots. These are typically used for bed-bound patients especially after surgery.
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