Do Compression Socks Work?

While some athletes feel that wearing compression socks helps them improve their performance, science does not yet support this belief.

For runners, going the extra mile is life. Sometimes, the smallest oomph is all it takes in order to win the race—and winning, for athletes, is both air and water. This is why it is no longer a surprise to me when athletes grab every opportunity that becomes available in order improve themselves. It is both the athlete’s most winsome and vulnerable element.

On the Debated Efficacy of Compression Socks as Runners’ Companion

Athletes rely on boosts: supplements, routinely intensive trainings, tools, equipment, and gear. There are several reasons athletes wear compression socks. Runners in particular are recently raving for these right now in-trend compression socks which promise improved stability and speed, even though this particular garment’s efficiency and safety remain dubious. 

What are Compression Socks?

Compression socks are garments that athletes, particularly runners, wear during runs in the belief that they improve performance, prolong endurance and somehow prevent blood clots. As I have mentioned, the use of this garments has not been proven to help athletes in such way, although a few studies support these “supposed” benefits. Despite this, compression socks have been atop the shopping lists of many athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

How Far Has Science Proven About these Compression Socks?

The benefits that compression socks promise are quite attractive. Their primary use is the prevention of venous disorders, as perhaps most prominent in stockings or hosiery used by women at the office or other workplaces which require a lengthy duration of standing up.

So how exactly compression socks come into play when providing athletes that “oomph”? It is through the same technology as women’s hosiery. Compression socks claim to deliver oxygen pretty well on the limbs, resulting to a much faster recovery and a lesser chance of muscle fatigue.

While there are a considerably large number of sceptics, a sports physiology professor from South Africa named Elmarie Terblanche has conducted a real-world survey on how these compression socks add to the athlete’s performance and arrived that runners who wear compression socks generally recover faster, also generally improving the runners’ speed by twelve minutes. Continuing on Terblanche’s study, researchers have begun to discover that runners who race wearing compression socks feel significantly less soreness to the leg muscles. Chris Solinsky, a famous athlete and former American 10,000m record-holder, notes that he isn’t performing better, but is recovering much faster, and settles with that: “I found I was able to come off the workouts much, much quicker,” he says.

Final Thoughts

Researchers have not so far found any harmful effects from wearing compression socks. If athletes perceive they perform well while wearing them, I don’t see any conflict from it. 

Of course, safety should be atop an athlete’s list of priorities. Athletes should be well-informed on how to use these garments properly to make most out of their supposed effects. 22-32 mmHg of pressure is a rather accurate recommendation of pressure. It is good to commit this to memory but the socks should only be fit and comfortable to the individual wearing it, and also should not cause any irritation from usage.

In the end, the question about compression socks remains unanswered. What are your thoughts about it?