With our recent CEP sponsored Fun/Demo Run we thought it would be a great time to elaborate on what compression socks and sleeves can do for runners. Maybe you have thought, “Do compression socks and sleeves really work?” or “I wonder if compression gear would help my shin splints or calf cramps?” This blog is meant to address what benefits compression can have for you and what conditions are appropriate and helped by these products.
Compression socks and sleeves provide graduated compression, meaning the compression is higher (tighter) at the foot and ankle and lower (looser) as it moves up the calf and lower leg. This type of compression helps to fight the effects of gravity and assist the body in venous return (circulation).
With injury recovery, compression can help by reducing swelling in the injured areas. Compression technology has been proven to limit swelling, especially in people who spend all day on their feet and even for those who are planning to run half, full or ultra marathons.
Studies show that with an ideal level of steady compression the walls of the arteries will dilate, increasing the blood flow through them (40% during exercise and 30% during recovery/inactivity). This means additional oxygen and nutrients will be flowing through the body.
Furthermore, the walls of the veins will constrict under compression, increasing the speed of blood flow and circulating nonaerated blood and lactic acid back to the heart faster. This will help to quicken the rate of recovery and lower muscle soreness.
Compression will also help to immobilize the muscle and decrease the amount of muscular vibration, resulting in decreased fatigue on the job or during your workout.
Compression can also aid people who have to be stationary due to traveling, such as to and from races or on business trips. On the job, people who sit at a desk for long periods of time, or sit in a plane or car for an extended period of time can wreak havoc on the blood flow in their legs. Let compression assist your veins in getting that blood out of your legs and back to your heart.
Now it's time for the big question:Should I wear socks or sleeves?
This answer depends on a few factors:
If you have an injury that involves your arch, ankle, or lower Achilles tendon, you are going to want to wear a sock to cover the injured area.
If you have an injury that is up higher, a sleeve should be fine.
Another factor to take into consideration is what type of sock you like to wear.
If you have a few pairs of high grade poly blend socks, such as Balega or Feetures, that you absolutely love and prefer not to run without, then you would probably enjoy the calf sleeve more because it allows you to wear your favorite socks along with it.
If you are going to be using the compression product for recovery, you should wear the sock. Remember that graduated compression. You wouldn't want to have irritated/swollen feet and ankles because the blood couldn’t flow past the firmness of the bottom part of a compression sleeve.
Plus, we know a trick for getting that tight sock on easily. Don't let that sway your decision.
Throughout your day, remember what compression can do for you: enhanced performance through increased blood flow, faster recovery, diminished muscle soreness, and lessened fatigue.
We carry the full line of CEP compression socks and sleeves, including the ultra-light line for the summer which has 20% less material to keep you cool!
Come let us help you start feeling better!