Confession: I have worn the same pair of socks several times without washing them. Why would I commit this laundry sin? For the sake of the Ironman, of course – the motive of 99.9% of all my actions in life right now.
When I was first introduced to my snug socks after I purchased them at the Surf City Marathon expo, it was love at first sight. Although the price tag of $50 made me grimace (do triathlon related expenses EVER end?), my 2XU recovery compression socks enveloped my tired legs in some sort of amazing compression hug. I had heard a lot of positive things about compression socks and their ability to reduce recovery time and produce refreshed, invigorated legs ready to take on the next training session, and once the salesperson talked to me (ok maybe just looked at me), I was sold.
Lately I’ve been wearing my compression socks after every long weekend workout and oftentimes I wear them to work. In general,I’m an easy sell on most things – despite my ability to research race reports and triathlon blogs for hours on end, I generally don’t spend a lot of time researching products before I buy them. I purchase a lot of things based on word of mouth or personal recommendations. It might not be the best way, but it works for me. Basically I purchased my socks knowing little about how they worked, but knowing that some people swear by them and if there was a triathlon Twitter world of its own, compression socks would probably be trending on a daily basis.
As I was wearing my socks for a full work day recently, I had a thought – how long should you be wearing compression socks? So, to the Internet I went and although I found no conclusive answer to this question (someone said 1 hour post workout and someone said they wore them for a 16 hour flight!) , I did find some other interesting facts about compression socks and I thought I’d share them with you!
Compression Sock Fun Facts
- Compression socks were created to help diabetics improve their circulation, and now they’ve become popular with runners and triathletes looking to boost blood flow and run faster.
- Some famous athletes that helped bring compression socks into the mainstream for runners/triathletes are Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher.
- Compression wear comes in many types: recovery vs. race or socks vs. leggings vs. leg sleeves. There are even compression tops!
- Claimed benefits of compression socks by manufacturers include: increases oxygen delivery to muscles, enhances circulation increasing venous return, improves endurance, reduces post exercise soreness, assists in reducing lactic acid build up, reduces muscle vibration and assists in muscle stability, reduces muscle cramps, can reduce muscle strain and ligament damage, optimizes your body temperature in warm or cool conditions, and more.
- 2XU claims that its products work by enhancing circulation through increased venous function, more oxygenated blood is delivered to the muscles that need it most. At the same time, by-products created by exercise, such as lactic acid, are flushed from the muscles to reduce fatigue and decrease recovery time.
- Compression socks are tightest at the ankles, gradually becoming less constrictive towards the knees.
- However, there’s no conclusive evidence that wearing compression socks during exercise does anything. A study done by the American College of Sports Medicine suggests there is no statistically significant differences in maximal oxygen consumption, heart rate or minute ventilation between treadmill runners who wore compression socks and those who did not. The study DID find that wearing compression socks after a workout speeds recovery (via evidence of a faster lactate recovery rate)
- 2XU Compression Socks have a 1 year warranty; however they may wear faster if you do not use them properly. There is a whole section of their website dedicated on how to put them on (roll them up like stockings) and how to wash them.
- Compression socks should be purchased in the correct size. The guy at the Expo measured my calf in order to get the most accurate size and explained that if they are too big they won’t work properly.
- You can wear compression gear while swimming
Since I don’t wear compression gear while I work out, I was happy to at least see that there has been some proof that compression socks make a difference in recovery. It’s hard to say if any recovery method really works since you have no idea how you would have recovered otherwise (I wonder this with my BCAAs and Glutamine as well), but I do think that the socks help speed up my recovery! At least, my Twitter friends say they do.
What are your thoughts on compression gear? What kind and/or brand do you wear? Do you wear yours to work too?