Post-Run Recovery Tips Part 2: Compression

by - 12:04 PM

Time for Part 2 of my Post-Run Recovery Tips! Today we are going to be talking about something really exciting - socks.

I know what you're thinking: socks? Really? Really. 

But these aren't just any kind of socks - they are super cool, specially designed socks that aid in speeding lactic acid removal and improving oxygen delivery to leg muscles. I'm talking about compression socks.

Why Compression Socks Rock

The use of compression socks in the running world is relatively new, but they've been around for awhile, mainly in use by diabetics and airplane pilots. Then someone said hey! Runners have the same needs in both racing and recovery...why can't we use them too?

Multiple studies have shown that compression socks aid in stimulating blood flow, helping legs recover faster from a hard run.

The primary rationale behind wearing compression socks in a race is that they may enhance venous return to the heart through a more efficient calf muscle pump, leading to increased endurance capacity. And there is the notion that because muscles are kept more compact, balance and proprioception are improved and muscle fatigue is minimized. Source - Runners World

I wasn't really on the bandwagon until I began suffering from excruciating calve cramps after my triathlon workouts - no matter how much water I drank, how much I stretched, or how many bananas I ate, I would wake up in the middle of the night and barely be able to walk up stairs the next day.

So I headed to my local running store and picked up my first pair of compression socks, slept in them that night and never turned back. 

Using Compression Socks in Racing and Recovery

Compression socks and sleeves can be used both during races and aiding in recovery.

The theory behind wearing them during a race is they can aid in both supporting blood flow and muscle vibration. I prefer calve sleeves over socks for racing and plan on wearing sleeves during my half marathon if I end up racing in shorts and not compression tights.

More importantly, compression socks are essential in my post-run recovery. I am on the road a lot - frequently after longer workouts - and sitting in a car or plane for hours at a time is the opposite of helpful in muscle recovery. I wear these bad boys in the car, at the airport and even when I'm out and about doing errands after my run.

There are some theories that argue that compression is significantly more helpful than icing, and that the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) model should be changed to MCE.

My take is to do what works for you and your body. Personally, I have found compression socks have worked much better for me than any of those painful ice tubs I sat in during college.

Favorite Brands of Compression Socks

So here's the rub - compression socks are kind of spendy ($45-$60) per pair. I think they are worth it but because of this, I haven't had the luxury of road testing every brand on the market.

Below are 3 brands I own and can attest to:

Brand: CEP
Price: $59.95
Pros: Uses calve measurements; German; very techy
Cons: Kind of hard to get on

Price: $50.00
Pros: Super fun colors, easy to get on, made in the USA!
Cons: Does measurements in XS, S/M, L/XL so I wasn't sure what size I would be (S/M fit fine)

Brand: 2XU
Price: $59.95
Pros: 2XU kind of rules the multi-sport world in compression wear and they do it well
Cons: Hard to find a complaint with these, although they do run shorter than the CEPs which I prefer because I have long legs

So there you go. An entire post just on socks. I didn't think I could do it either. 

My final post on Post-Run Recovery covers a much more fabulous topic: Massage. Ahhhh. Look for that next week! If you have any other brands you'd like to add to this list, feel free to leave a comment below. 

Happy running!
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  1. Jobst is also a good brand of compression socks though I agree that the listed 3 are also great brands. There are actually great compression socks in the market and on online stores such as the Legs Therapy where I buy my compression socks. :)

  2. Thanks for the tip Catherine! I will definitely check that site out.

  3. My doctor recommended compression socks for my flight and I immediately thought of this post! I'm happy to say I got some socks that can work for flying while pregnant AND running! Thanks for the tips!

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