Short answer: If you want to boost your performance capability and contribute to better leg and whole body health, then yes! Wearing full-length compression socks can provide many benefits, especially when wearing them during your workout or during the recovery period following your workout.
In this article, we’ll examine all of the benefits of wearing compression socks during your workouts and runs, and we’ll also cover the basic science on how to wear them properly while you are getting it in at the gym or on your run route.
Graduated compression socks (also referred to as compression stockings) are designed from a medical vantage to help increase positive blood flow in your lower extremities. Compression socks work well at this task during increased physical activity (as well as periods of low activity, such as extended sitting or standing).
With compression socks’ main effect of improved blood flow: the majority of benefits you will derive from wearing full-length compression socks or calf compression sleeves are health-related, but there are several activities where the health-related benefits have been recorded to translate into enhanced performance during physical activity. Let’s take a look at the two main categories:
Running (and other cardio)—The secondary effects of wearing compression sleeves while running have proven to result in better running performance times for sprinters and long-distance runners, according to an in-depth German study on the effects of compression gear that was published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Sprinters saw faster sprint times and long-distance runners were able to endure for more extended distances than usual, which serves as substantial evidence that the effects of wearing compression socks can boost endurance during cardio work.
Strength Training—Wearing compression socks during weight lifting, CrossFit, or other strength training regimens can definitely help get you through your workout. Regulating positive blood flow in the lower body will support a balanced vascular circulation allowing you to maximize lower body work and sustain yourself during core and upper body repetitions while your lower body muscles are less directly engaged.
There are also structural effects that compression gear provides during strength training. Compression socks help stabilize your muscles during high-intensity movements and landings, which prevents unnecessary imbalance and muscle fatigue caused by impact and fast range of motion sweeps.
Better oxygenation of your muscles during the workout will help with muscle recovery and decreased likelihood of cramping post-workout. This effect works best when the compression socks are worn for at least 30-60 minutes after your workout and ending stretches are complete. Be sure not to skip stretching out at the end of your run or workout - stretching at the end of your workout is the most important part of your entire workout and is what will best aid in the prevention of cramps and soreness.
Surprisingly, comfort tops the list among gym-goers who choose to wear compression socks. For those who frequently work out in strength training regimens, compression socks have proven to increase personal comfort—people simply like the way that they feel and help them move during the workout. Additionally, the best compression socks feature designs that make them quite stylish and contribute well to self-esteem at the gym or anywhere else.
The proper way to wear full-length compression socks or calf compression sleeves is directly on the skin. You should never layer compression gear on top of other layers of clothing, as this can increase compression to a level that can actually negate the positive health effects of the compression gear. You can, however, layer other loosely-fitting articles of clothing such as track pants, jeans or gym pants over top of the compression gear. Just ensure the compression socks are the first item you put on!