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  • Mar

    The Shoemaker Review: Compression Socks

    by Jarrod Shoemaker

    Until just a few years ago compression socks were confined to hospitals and rehab units for use in post-surgery, diabetes and people who needed to stimulate blood flow. The few athletes who used compression socks used them to combat dreaded “cankles” (pooling of blood in the feet and ankles during prolonged periods of sitting) on long-haul flights. Then suddenly, athletes were wearing compression socks in racing, from 5Ks to marathons to triathlons.

    Since the increase in popularity of compression garments began, there have been numerous studies to determine how effective compression socks and sleeves are. Generally, the majority of the studies have come to the conclusion that they do not increase performance. But just because they don’t directly impact performance, doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of other good reasons to use or try compression clothing.

    Here are a few topline benefits for compression gear:
    1) There IS evidence they do help promote recovery. The use of compression does help blood circulate as evidenced by the years of usage to combat blood pooling in hospitals and on flights.
    2) Compression is an amazing recovery tool. Wearing compression garments after workouts can help speed recovery.
    3) Use of compression during a workout can help reduce muscle vibrations. Muscle vibrations can cause delayed onset muscle fatigue, which is what makes muscles feel bad the day after a hard workout.
    Ultimately it is about feel. Compression does not increase performance mainly because it does not increase your VO2 or amount of oxygen you can uptake.

    Compression is not a “get-fast quick” trick that will cut minutes off your running or triathlon times. However, if you like the feeling of compression, you should wear it! If your muscles feel tired after a workout, it might be worth trying out a pair of compression socks or sleeves.

    After visiting SwimOutlet’s headquarters in December, I tested out three different brands and types of compression garments carried by during the past month.

    I tested two calf sleeves and one sock. One of the most important steps to buying compression is to get the correct size. Every company has a different size chart, so make sure to measure your calves and buy the correct size, more compression is NOT better.

    110% Play Harder Flat Out Compression Sock ($58.95)

    Quick Take: A full sock that is a bit thicker than compression sleeves. Packaging is sleek and easy to understand. The socks have different compression zones to help accelerate blood flow in different areas.

    My Analysis: Personally I like the feel of full compression socks and these are very comfortable and easy to put on.

    CEP Calf Sleeves ($38.95)

    Quick Take: CEP sleeves are thin and light and easy to put on. They are directionally aligned so placing them correctly on your calves is important. CEP provides a small booklet in their packaging explaining their product.

    My Analysis: The calf sleeves are very thin and barely feel like you are wearing them. They are easy to put on correctly and the pressure feels just right.

    2XU Compression Performance Run Sleeve ($44.95)

    Quick Take: 2XU has invented the eye-catching compression sleeve. I tried two pairs, a vibrant blue and fluro orange, both of which are extremely visible. The 2XU sleeves are a bit thicker than the CEP sleeves, but have the same fit style with different compression gradients on the front of the leg versus the back.

    My Analysis: If you are looking to make a statement, buy a 2XU colorful compression sleeve. The material is a bit thicker than CEP, but once on the leg it is not overly tight.

    There are lots of great options for compression socks or sleeves on and compression will help your recovery after hard workouts or while traveling. As an athlete having a pair of compression socks around is a must. Make sure to check the sizing charts and measure your calf girth before you buy them.


    If you won a pair of compression socks what would you use them for? Leave your answer in the comments below and you’ll be entered for a chance to win free pair of compression socks!
    1) During training
    2) Post-workout recovery
    3) Injury recovery
    4) Travel
    5) Other


    Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: xx@yy.zz
    trista hevey
    6 years ago.
    During training!
    Thomas Emerick
    6 years ago.
    For recovery and travel; maybe on a "tired" run.
    Em Mahr
    6 years ago.
    I'd use the compression socks for training - I am training to run a marathon.
    Jamie Hamilton
    6 years ago.
    If I won a pair of compression socks I would use them during training to help my legs from fatiguing. I would also use them on long airplane/bus/train trips to reduce ankle swelling.
    6 years ago.
    During Training and post workout! They are perfect for workdays when I had a hard work out in the morning and have to go to work. No one in the office knows that my legs are recovering :D
    6 years ago.
    1 or 2 have to see which works best for my body. Never used however have wanted to try them.
    k deel
    6 years ago.
    Spring is in the air(in the northern temperate hemisphere)! and I'm motivated to re-invigorate my routine. Compression would be great for kickstarting my training and recovery, as well as long flights if I can work in a trip this year.
    Jarrod Shoemaker
    6 years ago.
    David - I actually had a hard run workout this morning and wore compression socks after the workout and the calves are feeling much better now. I think you will see a benefit from wearing after a hard run or bike workout.
    6 years ago.
    A-always wear them during my trainings, whether it's a 5K or 1/2 marathon.
    6 years ago.
    Recovery and long endurance training
    Shannon Chaney
    6 years ago.
    I would and do wear them during travel and recovery. I bought my Grandma Zensah and CEP recovery socks after the doctor told her the TED hose she was supposed to wear would be $100. These looked cooler and felt better on her tender legs and feet.
    6 years ago.
    Post workout recovery. I think I depressed my mother a bit when I told her I wanted compression socks for my birthday.
    David Howey
    6 years ago.
    David Howey
    6 years ago.
    I would like to try them after a hard workout to see if they help with recovery
    Roni Stetter
    6 years ago.
    #1-3! As a beginning runner with chronic knee pain, compression socks/sleeves really help ease the calfsoreness both during and after my runs. currently training for my first half marathon coming up this june and will definitely be replenishing my stash of compression gear before the big day!
    6 years ago.
    During and post workout!
    6 years ago.
    Dry land of course!!!!
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