People often associate compression socks with medical issues. However, the truth is that compression socks can be used for a variety of non-medical purposes. In fact, one of the most common and popular ways to use compression socks is for cardiovascular exercise. Runners and other people who practice cardio activities regularly need to have support for their legs, ankles, knees, and hips. Fortunately, compression socks can do all of that and more, while also increasing overall comfort for the wearer.
So, how exactly do compression socks help runners? What are the benefits of using compression socks when running or doing other cardiovascular exercises? Do professional runners wear compression socks? How tight should compression socks for runners be? Finally, should you wear compression socks during or after a period of running? In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more. So, let’s get started!
What Are The Benefits Of Compression Socks For Running?
Compression socks are often known as “running socks” because they offer so many benefits to runners. However, this doesn’t mean that any products labeled as running socks will also be high-quality compression socks, so you will need to pay attention when shopping. In any case, here are a few of the key benefits of using compression socks while running:
- Reduce Foot Blisters - If you’re a runner, you know that the wrong kind of socks or footwear can lead to blisters on your heels, toes, or the sides of your feet. These can be extremely painful and may even force you to stop running for a while. Fortunately, running compression socks are designed to make you feel as comfortable as possible. They reduce the risk of getting foot blisters by creating a tight, protective layer around the foot and lower ankle. You can also reduce the risk of blisters even further by combining compression socks with a standard pair of thin, cotton-blend socks.
- Increase Blood Flow - One of the biggest advantages of compression socks for runners is the increase in blood flow and overall circulation. Runners need blood to get pumped efficiently throughout their body, particularly to the legs and feet. If you struggle with poor blood flow, you may feel numbness in your extremities or even light-headedness when you go running. With compression socks, the right degree of pressure encourages faster and more efficient blood flow throughout the body, ensuring that you can run longer without experiencing these kinds of problems.
- Reduce Risk of Blood Clots - If you have the tendency to do intense, short-distance running followed by periods of rest, you could be more susceptible to blood clots. This is why doctors recommend that you continue moving your body even while you’re “resting.” In any case, by increasing the flow of blood to the legs, compression socks greatly reduce the risk of blood clots in the lower half of the body.
- Support Lower Joints - There are different types of compression socks that are designed for specific purposes. That said, most types of compression socks provide support to the joints in the ankles, knees, and (if you opt for thigh-high or “tights” style socks) even your hip joints. Most of the injuries sustained by runners are due to strain put on these joints, particularly the knees and ankles. By providing the pressure that helps keep your joints in their correct position for running, you give them extra support and reduce the risk of twisted ankles or knees.
- Reduce Pain, Stiffness, & Swelling - If you run on a regular basis, you know that a certain amount of pain and swelling comes with the territory. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just deal with it and not try to reduce pain and swelling as much as possible. If you feel that the pain and/or swelling is excessive, you should definitely talk to your doctor and perhaps take a break from running. However, for mild muscle pain, stiffness in the joints, and swelling around the feet or ankles, you can simply start using compression socks to reduce and, in many cases, even eliminate these issues.
Do Professional Runners Wear Compression Socks?
Like athletes in any kind of sport or competition, each professional has their own equipment and clothing that they like to wear. That said, many marathon runners and professional runners use compression socks because of all of the benefits outlined above. They are especially common to use during practice and training sessions. For example, it would not be uncommon to see a professional runner training with knee-high or thigh-high compression socks or even variations like compression calf sleeves. In any case, you shouldn’t feel like you’re doing something strange or unhelpful by wearing compression socks when you run. On the contrary, you are actually helping your body perform better while also reducing the risk of injuries.
How Tight Should Compression Socks Be For Running?
Compression socks are generally categorized based on their compression level. Lower levels of compression are usually considered to be 15 mmHg or less. This measurement refers to the amount of pressure that the socks apply to your feet and legs. Lower compression is recommended for runners and people who just want relatively light degrees of pressure. Thus, the best compression for running is usually somewhere between 8 and 15 mmHg.
That said, it also depends on your age, your health, and the condition of your legs. For example, if you have circulatory issues, you may need a higher compression level. This means that you would use compression socks with pressure between 15 and 20 mmHg. If you are also dealing with pain or swelling, you could even go up a level to socks with pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg.
However, it is important to remember that higher compression levels (20 mmHg and above) are generally reserved for medical issues. This is especially true for the firm and extra firm socks that go above 30 mmHg. These will help reduce varicose veins and treat Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), but the amount of pressure will likely be too much to endure while running. Therefore, we recommend choosing a low to medium level of pressure that is both comfortable and suitable to your needs.
Wearing Compression Socks After Running
We have already established that wearing compression socks while you run is a good idea, but what should you do when you’re done running? Should you immediately take the socks off or should you leave them on for a few hours? Truthfully, compression socks can do just as much good after you finish a cardio workout as they can during the workout itself. Using compressions socks for running recovery helps prevent blood clots as your heart rate slows down. Additionally, recovery socks for runners can continue to keep your legs feeling great by reducing muscle pain and swelling for hours after you have finished your run. So, if you’ve just gone for a run with your compression socks, feel free to continue wearing them for a while!
We hope you found this guide on compression socks for runners both useful and informative! Are you currently in the market for compression socks or other compression wear to help you get the most out of running? If so, be sure to reach out to Compression Health today!