What I Wish Everyone Knew About Compression Socks Running

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The sports world is abuzz with a new addition to fitness accessories – the compression socks. Traditionally being used as a circulatory aid for bedridden and elderly patients, compression socks have been making waves because of their touted health benefits to athletes and recreational exercisers. Several runners and sports enthusiasts started wearing these socks to reduce their risks of muscle soreness, prevent injury, and boost their athletic performance.

 

What is it that makes compression socks running staples for casual joggers and experienced marathoners? And why are compression socks sports favorites today? Do the socks truly deliver what they are expected to do? We’ll find out more in this article.

compression socks on running

Overview

Running and other sports activities may put on strain on your body’s muscles, especially on your legs. If you do these high-intensity physical activities without proper support to your muscles, your chances of having acute to long-term injuries will rise.

Your legs are one of the most active parts of the body during sports and running activities. Hence, they are most prone to muscle soreness, injuries, and aches after a strenuous day of sporting and running. They need special protection so that they can stay fully functional with minimal soreness and aching even after participating in runs and sports.

Compression socks are strong elastic socks that are worn up until the knee. These socks deliver pressure on your ankles and calves to compress the arteries, veins, and muscles on your legs, providing better circulation and preventing fluid from pooling on your legs.

Understanding Blood Flow

How does compressing the legs improve blood flow? Let’s uncover the answers by learning about the blood flow circulation to the legs first.

The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. This blood reaches your organs and cells through your arteries. Once the oxygen-rich blood has been delivered by your arteries, deoxygenated blood and other metabolic waste products now passes through the veins and make its way back to the heart to get another fresh serving of oxygen.

Blood flows all over your body, including both your upper and lower limbs. However, circulation to your lower limbs may be a bit tricky – blame it on gravity and the tendency of your legs to always be on the ground. The veins and arteries on your legs may widen to allow more blood to flow in and out of your legs, but this can impair circulation in the long run.

Poor blood circulation is the culprit of muscle soreness, which eventually leads to decreased muscle activity and longer recovery times. Fluids may also pool in your legs and feet, causing swelling and exercise-induced edema.

Wearing compression socks puts pressure on your calves and ankles, which in turn compresses the muscles, veins, and arteries underneath it. Your legs get better circulation because the compressed blood vessels return to their smaller size, efficiently delivering blood to and from the heart faster than when the vessels are enlarged.

Benefits of Compression Socks

The Benefits of Compression Socks

So why would you purchase compression socks? These are the benefits of wearing them:

  • Improved Oxygen Delivery

Compression socks bring back the taxed-out blood vessels of your legs back to their smaller original sizes. This means that blood can flow more efficiently from the heart to your lower limbs, effectively delivering oxygen to the cells, tissues, and muscles of your legs. More oxygen utilized by your legs means better muscle health and improved leg performance.
 
Compression socks are typically designed to offer graduated compression. This means it’s tighter at the ankles and become looser as they traverse up your knees. The graduated compression design allows blood to be pushed back up to the heart, another way to improve blood circulation to the legs.

  • Decreases Lactic Acid Build-Up

Lactic acid is a substance produced by your muscles after strenuous physical exertion. It builds up as you exercise and naturally dissipates from your body an hour after you’re done exercising. Lactic acid is also produced by the body during the resting interval after a moderate exercise regimen.

 Build-up of lactic acid in your muscles are typically temporary. However, if your muscles are overexerted again even before previous lactic acid build-up leaves your body, it can lead to sore and painful muscles.

Compression socks promotes faster lactic acid elimination. They do so by improving blood circulation to the muscle fibers of your lower extremities. The socks also help prevent and soothe muscle soreness related to excessive lactic acid build-up.

  • Prevents cramps and swelling

Compression socks running gear soared in popularity among recreational and professional runners because these socks appeared to have lessened muscles swelling and cramps experienced after a long and tiring run.

Indeed, compression socks are found to help decrease excessive and unnecessary movement on your calf muscles due to its physical tightness and snug yet restrictive nature. It makes your muscles less susceptible to cramping after a run.

Exercise-induced swelling is also considerably lessened when compression socks are worn. This is because of the socks’ graduated compression design that helps funnel out fluids from your legs, pushing them upwards into the circulation and thus preventing their build-up on the lower extremities.

  • Decreases Muscular Vibration

Your muscles tend to vibrate every time you engage in a rigorous physical activity. It comes from the impact of your body bouncing or pounding off against the ground as you run, exercise, or engage in sports.

Muscle vibration actually contributes to muscular fatigue. You will feel this fatigue when your legs continue being tired, cramping, sore, and achy even after days of rest from running or strenuous sports. Muscle vibration also triggers Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Compression socks aid in stabilizing the muscles of your lower extremities. The tightness helps in preventing excessive muscular movement, thereby lessening chances of muscle spasms and fatigue.

Choosing the Best Compression Socks for You

There are a few elements you must consider when selecting the best compression socks for you. But the two most important ones include size and compression ratings.

  • Size

Compression socks are stretchy and elastic, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all a one-size-fits-all garment. You need to select a size that snugly fits your feet and your calves. Not only will this provide you comfort, but it will also let you move freely without restrictions during a run, an exercise regimen, or a sports activity.

Most compression socks manufacturers follow the standard of graduated compression. This means that the socks are tighter at the ankles and run looser just below the knees. Because of this, you might find it a bit hard to put the socks on if you don’t find the perfect size for your legs.

Select socks that match your foot size so that it fits snugly at your feet while providing a firm squeeze on your ankles. As the socks go up your legs, check to see that it gives you a gentle squeeze until below your knees. Move around a bit to check if the sock feels comfortable and non-restrictive.

Here at Nikkiaz, we carry a wide array of sizes for you to easily choose from. You can also ask for our assistance for your sizing needs if you must. We’ll be glad to help you choose the right size for your compression socks needs.

  • Compression Ratings

The level of “squeeze” that you feel when you wear a pair of compression socks is called compression ratings. This is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), the same unit used for determining blood pressure.

The best compression rating level for running and sports is 20 mmHg. This is touted as the moderate compression level, which means it provides enough support for your legs without restricting its movement too much.

One research conducted by Byrne et al. revealed that 20 mmHg at the ankle is the optimal amount of compression needed to improve blood flow and optimize recovery benefits.

As much as possible, do not select a sock that has a compression rating of over 30 mmHg. Those would typically be more restrictive and can impair your performance in running and sports.

nikkiaz strip compression sock

Should Compression Socks be Expensive to be Effective?

Compression socks are typically priced at $50 and above. It’s a bit expensive, so people are left wondering if they should try out socks with a lower price tag. Some people even equate low-priced socks to poor quality, which is absolutely not the case.

Cheaper compression socks, such as those made by Nikkiaz, are actually high-quality products and are great at providing ample support and compression to your lower extremities. Such socks are priced lower than usual because the whole supplier chain is solely controlled by the company. This means that the socks are manufactured and sourced from our partner factories, then delivered in the best condition possible.

Remember to ask for the right size and the compression level of the socks you’re planning to buy. Those are the most important metrics to see if the socks are effective, whether they are expensive or not.

Quick Q and As About Compression Socks

The most common questions about compression socks, answered right here!

  • How do compression socks help in running and sports playing?

Wearing compression socks running will help reduce the unnecessary vibrations caused by the impact of your body against the floor. The snug yet gentle squeeze that you feel on your legs as you run helps stop the widening of the veins on your lower extremities, leading to a better blood circulation and less chances of edema.

  • When are compression socks most effective to wear?

This is actually a personal choice. Some runners love wearing the socks as they run, while others find it more useful after their physical activities as they rest and recovery. Your preference will depend on your comfort levels and other medical-related needs you may have, such as a past injury to your muscles or tendons.

  • What garments can be used together with compression socks?

There’s actually no restriction as to what fitness outfits you can wear with compression socks. You can don shorts, running skirts, sweatpants, and leggings underneath the socks.

Just remember never to wear your leggings underneath the socks. Compression socks must be directly in contact with your skin to maximize its compression levels and ensure that they fit correctly.

  • Can I sleep in my compression socks?

No, compression socks are not meant to be slept in. They are created for moving people to help fight gravity and its effects on blood circulation. When you’re sleeping, your legs are up and they’re not moving against gravity, so there’s no need to use the socks.

 

Finally, Compression socks are garments that offer support for tired and aching legs due to frequent physical activity. Wearing compression socks running helps to improve blood circulation, soothes cramping muscles, and helps prevent injury due to muscle vibrations and fatigue.

The best compression socks sports enthusiasts and runners often use are selected according to their proper foot size and calf circumference. They also factor in a moderate compression rating to provide that squeeze without constricting the veins too much or restricting their movements.

Compression socks offer a lot of benefits for lower extremities circulation and muscle health. However, it is not a cure-all for your sports and running-related leg injuries. They’re just supportive garments that will help hasten your recovery times and make you feel comfortable so you can keep up with your fast-paced physical activities.

 

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