I've wanted to try compression socks for a long time now but have not wanted to fork out the $60-$100 to purchase them.
Fortunately there's a new company on the block called tiux who are looking to make the socks more affordable, as well as a more supportive. They were kind enough to send me a trial pair to use and abuse.
Compression socks are one of those articles of clothing that some runners swear by and others shrug. In theory, they improve your race performance, speed recovery, and ward off injuries.
My calves are often tight -- stretching and foam rolling help, but after long runs they are be sore and achy.
What Are Compression Socks?
Compression socks provide support and aid blood circulation by adding pressure to the lower leg and the foot.
They can come in many different shapes and styles. Some styles include the foot as part of the compression. These are often called compression socks. Others do not have anything below the ankle and are often referred to as compression sleeves.
Benefits Of Compression Socks For Runners
Compression socks were originally intended to treat circulatory problems such as thrombosis or varicose veins.
For athletes, compression socks are intended to reduce swelling, muscle soreness and muscle fatigue experienced post exercise.
To get the benefits of compression socks, the right amount of compression is essential. It should be tighter at the ankle and gradually decrease compression up toward the knee.
Do They Work?
Yes. And no.
Compression socks aren't a silver bullet. You shouldn't be looking for silver bullets to being with though, since they don't exists.
There is some scientific evidence they can increase your performance by a small amount (and this is quite variable across studies), but their best use is preventing soreness and muscle damage from hard training sessions.
At this point, I've tried the socks out ~10 times. I've done a few long harder runs in them -- upwards of 3 hours. I've also done some slow easy jogs, a track workout, and some middling runs of an hour or so.
During each of my runs, the socks themselves were comfortable. As it's been rather chilly, I did not mind the additional warmth they brought. I can see this being a potential issue in warmer weather however. The fabric in the socks is quite breathable, but in order to be able to compress it still needs to be thicker that a typical running sock.
I did not have any chafing or other pain form utilizing them.
There was no perceived benefit in performance while I was running in then. No matter that activity, I didn't notice an improvement. This was disappointing but expected.
The real benefit for me came after the run was completed. I kept the socks on each time for 1-3 hours afterwards and wow! The recovery time after each one of the my harder runs was noticably improved.
It's difficult to articulate the advantages that the compression socks provided. The achy feeling that I sometimes find after the longer runs was much duller. It was still there just much less sharp.
During the short bouts of running, the resulting benefit was much less pronounced. In fact, I may have been imagining it due to the benefits of actually feeling better during the long runs.
In any event, the results during the longer, harder sessions was very promising.
Should You Buy Compression Socks?
If you look at compression socks as a tool to use that is similar to ice baths, you should be able to make a determination if the cost is worth the benefit.
The compression socks from tiux were fantastic and I'll be ordering a second pair for those times when I can't be bothered to do wash.
I'm especially looking forward to how my recovery is impacted during my 5 hour ultra training runs.