If you've run seriously, you've probably noticed people rocking colorful, tight-looking socks as part of their clothes on race day. Once you've crossed the finish line, you'll probably see more stockings as part of the post-race recovery outfit.
These are compression stockings that are becoming increasingly popular outside of the running community as athletes of all ages recognize the potential benefits of the extra-comfortable equipment.
Although compression wear has its roots in surgical recovery, the principle of increasing blood flow in training clothing has prevailed. You can even put together a complete compression outfit, from shirts to shorts and socks. Calf sleeves have the same effect on the lower leg muscles without covering the feet.
Here's the basic theory: The tight fabric pushes and supports your veins and helps your blood find its way back to your heart, improving oxygen flow and accelerating regeneration. Not every scientific study shows measurable results, but many athletes, from weekend to warrior, report good results.
Compressive strength is given in mmHg or millimeters of mercury. Higher numbers mean more compression. (If you're curious, the measurement comes from the atmospheric pressure required to hold one millimeter of mercury.) Many models are stepped and have more compression toward the bottom of the socks. Most sports stockings like the following are 15-22 mmHG or 20-30 mmHG.
Not convinced? If not otherwise, the extra-secure fit might be incentive enough to wear compression socks or calf sleeves, as anyone who has ever worn a pair of loose-fitting stockings after his heyday could testify. Take a look at these 10 options to speed up your run.
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Zensah Tech + Compression Sock
Made in Italy with graded compression so they're not too tight. These socks pamper you properly. And your color options range from black to pink.
McDavid Rebound Compression Sock
This sock has a touch of the old school. Is it the basic black – or is it the seaweed woven into the yarn? The company claims that the sea vegetables continue to improve circulation. Other fibers support moisture management. The 20 mm / Hg compression at the ankle reaches about 15 mmHG at the top to support effective blood movement on the leg.
Sigvaris Wade Protection Badge
These sleeves are slightly lighter to wear than full socks, making them a great option if you can do without arch support. They are suitable for any sport, but triathletes (and water polo players) will appreciate the ability of the 20-30 mmHG compression sleeves to immerse themselves in chlorine or salt water without deteriorating.
EvoShield Recovery DNA Compression Tights
Okay, these tights cover more area than the rest of the stockings on this list – but the full compression of the lower body offers all athletes the opportunity to become one to recover after intense workouts. However, these are not intended to be worn on the field or on the track – only put on the tights for the following activities.
2XU Men's Elite Compression Alpine Socks
Whether running, cycling, skiing or boarding the frozen landscape – your calves and feet are treated twice over: heat from the merino blend on the footbed and support from the graded compression. In addition, a slight padding on the toes and heels for added comfort.
CEP Progressive + Run Ultralight Compression Sock
A special aspect of this sock: the anatomical fit. It eliminates the feeling of hose socks, supports the arch of the foot and the ankle, and reduces blisters because there is no excess rubbing material. Thanks to its antibacterial treatment you will also get good compression (20-30mHG) and less odor.
Reflective Compression Run Socks
If you are prone to calf tightness, try this compression sock from New Balance. The graded compression can help your blood flow. Other comfort elements are a seamless toe and foot arch support. Reflective accents on the calf make you more visible during night exercise.
2XU-calf protection without stirrup compression
In these sleeves you rule – at least when it comes to style. The sleek, lightweight nylon lycra fabric features reflective graphics and a 360-knit construction for all-around printing.
SVR Recovery Compression Stockings by Shock Doctor
If you look closely, you'll see the contoured knit texture of this sock – that's targeted compression, adjusted to the point where you need more pressure. In addition, the footbed has a special design for extra traction.
Bauerfeind Sports Compression Socks
Playing soccer? Try this. The targeted compression helps especially with lateral movements and jumps. Around the ankle are special compression zones for more support.
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