As you have been running, walking and driving around town I know you have seen athletes out training in short shorts and tall socks, and I know what you are thinking, "Did that person look in the mirror before they left home?" But in recent years these tall socks have moved from being a cause for minor ridicule to being a coveted piece of apparel that athletes of all abilities seem to want. So really, what is up with those tall socks?
Where did it all begin?
Compression socks and stockings have had a long term presence in the medical community. Patients undergoing heart procedures have been prescribed compression stockings in an effort to aid in recovery. In addition patients undergoing knee or leg surgery have worn compression socks to prevent blood clots and improve blood flow to enhance healing. With numerous uses for compression socks in the medical field the options for compression wear soon expanded beyond the hospital bed.
You may have noticed that after a long car trip or a long flight your lower legs are swollen. Long hours of standing or sitting in the same position can result in blood pooling in the legs. For this reason compression socks have made their way onto the legs and feet of airline attendants, factory employees, bus drivers, and more. In addition, many women benefit from wearing compression socks during pregnancy.
What is the science behind this?
Damaged muscle needs to be repaired. Muscle repairs itself with the help of healthy blood flow to and from the damaged site. After surgery or injury blood flow is slowed by the damaged tissue. Improving blood flow allows for the muscle to heal in a more timely manner. Compression socks aid the deep veins in the legs to compress more effectively, thus more easily sending blood back to the heart to allow healthy blood to enter for repair. This same process takes place for athletes. Athletes damage their muscles in training and utilize compression socks to aid in their recovery and repair. Furthermore, the stability gained from wearing these socks is proven to enhance performance.
CEP Compression socks made by the MediDyne Company are cited to aid in athletic performance by use before, during, and after activity:
- Pre-exercise: Muscle activation and reduction of injury risk.
- During exercise: Optimized performance (faster running time), stabilization (ligaments, tendons and joints are supported), reduced muscle strain easier to run), quicker recovery (lactic acid is metabolized more quickly and reserves replenished more quickly).
- Post-exercise: Quicker and shorter recovery phase (resting circulation is up to 30% higher with CEP socks)
Differences in various products:
Compression products can vary significantly in quality, price, and effectiveness. Any company can label their product as "compression" without the requirement of meeting an industry standard. So how do you know which products are better than others? Do your research. You want to find a sock or compression sleeve with graduated compression. The level of compression at the bottom of the sock or sleeve should be higher (tighter) than the level at the top. In addition, finding a company that makes both medical socks as well as athletic socks ensures that you have found a well researched piece of apparel. When comparing products, a tighter compression sock overall will be more effective in influencing the deep veins in the legs. You also want to ensure that the material of the product is durable and comfortable for activity. Many athletes like to train in their compression socks. If you plan to wear your compression socks for workouts you will want to make sure that they can dry easily and wick moisture away from your skin. Finally, try them on! As you try on various compression products you will quickly feel the differences between them. Make sure that you find the product best for your needs.
Our staff members at Fleet Feet Sports love the tight compression and recovery benefits of the CEP Compression socks. And of course we love the colors! They come in black, white, pink, and new this year: green! Yep - we are the ones running all over town making you say, "Did you look in the mirror before you left your house this morning?" We may look goofy - but I can assure you - our legs feel strong and fast!