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There are many different types of compression socks all worn for a multitude of purposes. They’re not just great for helping relieve pressure during long flights! There is a growing trend for very active people wearing pressurised socks for better performance and recovery. But why is this? Surely compression socks are aimed at a more sedentary market?

That is a myth which we’re ready to dispel. Compression stockings and socks can be used to relieve pressure, aches, pains and strains in people from all walks of life. Whether you have reduced mobility, are pregnant, diabetic, or are a marathon runner, there may always be a need for you to find the perfect pair of socks.

But how do athletic compression socks work? Can they help to relieve injuries, and to help you get back to your game at your absolute best? Athletic socks are growing in popularity for a reason. In this guide, we’ll explore the basics as to why, and how they could be beneficial to you.

Female runner wearing compression socks

What Are Sports Compression Socks?

Athletic compression socks, much like standard compression stockings, work to help keep blood flowing to and from your legs and feet at a healthy level. While you may be up and active for much of the time, this doesn’t mean that you are not at risk of vein problems and more besides. What’s more, compression socks could even help you recover from certain muscle strains and injuries. We will look at this in more detail a little further down.

Sports compression socks are those which are specifically designed for active people. They are made for regular movement and for all-around pressure which can help active legs and feet in a variety of ways. What’s more, many sock ranges are stylish, colourful and may even be a fashion statement. Many of the world’s best-known athletes and sports stars actively wear them during training and competition.

How do sports socks work? Much in the same vein as other compression socks, athletic designs apply gentle, constant pressure to your lower extremities to allow for blood to flow back up and throughout your body. These socks are also designed to help massage muscles and tissue to prevent prolonged fatigue, both to help keep the wearer going and to ensure that they can comfortably recover afterwards.

It is important to remember that athletic socks and stockings come in a range of pressures. The pressure level you decide on will depend on how much compression you need! If you are unsure about the level of pressure that is right for you and your activity levels, consult a medical professional before you buy.

Why Do People Buy Sports Socks?

Sports and athletic compression socks are both useful and popular for three main reasons, all of which we will explore in more detail. These are:

  • Better performance
  • Quicker recovery
  • Active comfort

While certain compression socks for travel or simple oedema (swelling) may be designed to massage and apply gentle pressure to the right areas, socks intended for active use and sports are more than a little different. Sports socks have greater demands placed on them! Therefore, functionality and comfort during intense activity must be prioritised.

Man running wearing calf compression sleeves

The fact of the matter is, athletes and active people experience a whole host of aches, pains and setbacks. Even those who train carefully and who warm up and cool down properly may still get cramps, tears and even longer-lasting injuries. Those people looking for sports socks may be suffering from:

Woman sprinting wearing sports compression socks

  • Poor performance as a result of muscle straining
  • Regular aches and pains in legs and feet
  • Reduced mobility over long distances and prolonged activity
  • Swelling and vein problems
  • Problems with recovering from exercise
  • Problems with recovering from injury

All of these factors could be remedied by just wearing the right sports compression socks during activity. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why.

Increased Performance

This continues to be one of the main selling points of finding the right fit for athletic socks. Socks of this nature are designed to help performance in a number of ways:

  • To help promote healthy delivery of oxygen
  • To improve balance
  • To improve balance
  • To prevent damage to tissue
  • To avoid muscle tearing and damage
  • To help improve endurance
  • To increase speed

Studies continue into how compression socks help athletes and active people in the above regard. However, you only need to consider the basic science behind the socks to understand why stockings and compression aids are being used to aid performance.

  • Compression socks, by design, help by massaging the legs and feet to allow blood and fluid to flow away from the lower extremities.
  • This means that blood pooling in the feet can be continuously recirculated elsewhere in the body. That, alone, is promoting healthy blood flow and is ensuring all active body faculties receive the oxygen and blood they require.
  • Compression socks can increase venous pressure, which means your body works smarter to make sure your heart is always getting access to blood.
  • Increased circulation through leg pressure may also allow help to balance out stress in muscles during exercise. To this end, muscle tiredness can also be significantly decreased, meaning you can effectively run or exercise for far longer than before.
  • All in all, design and basic science point towards sports compression offering comfortable, flexible support across all activities. The more support your muscles receive, the longer they can perform for you.

More Efficient Recovery

One of the banes of an athlete’s life is recovery time. Everyone needs to recover and relax – even the fittest of sportspeople on the planet. Our bodies can only do so much. Many active people, as mentioned, can also suffer from strains, sprains and muscle problems which can prevent them from getting back into activity again so soon. For professional athletes, this can be a real struggle and one which millions suffer from.

Therefore, many active people wear sports socks with compression so that their recovery time can be effectively shortened. Once again, studies are continuing, however, the continued popularity of these socks – as well as the science behind them – more than support these basic principles.

  • Medical studies from the 2011 Paris Marathon have shown that runners experienced far less muscle pain and were able to recover quicker than usual with help from compression.
  • The study also showed that feelings of swelling and vein dilation were massively reduced.
  • Other studies have reported that muscle soreness can greatly decrease after prolonged activity simply by wearing compression socks. It has been noted that the recovery benefits of wearing such socks may allow active wearers to get back on their feet again quicker than they would normally expect to.
  • Other studies have reported that muscle soreness can greatly decrease after prolonged activity simply by wearing compression socks. It has been noted that the recovery benefits of wearing such socks may allow active wearers to get back on their feet again quicker than they would normally expect to.

Simple Active Comfort

It's not wise to undertake strenuous exercise wearing travel socks! Activewear and athletic socks are designed to be continuously worn and are flexible enough to support a wide range of activities and sports. They are also intended to be as breathable as possible, making them comfortable and cooling to wear even during long endurance races.

It is also essential that sports socks do not apply too much pressure which could otherwise stunt performance. Many socks are designed with high levels of pressure. These are primarily offered to people who may be recovering from certain injuries or surgeries. Athletes and active people, however, require comfortable, flexible socks. Ones which do not offer so much pressure that they affect ongoing performance.

For many athletes, looks are important, too. As stated, fashion can be important for active people. As these socks are very likely to be on display, they are designed in a wide variety of colours, designs and looks which will always look the part. Plain stockings may not be the most flattering look for some active people! Therefore, if you are concerned about your active style, there is no need to worry.

Woman wearing compression recovery socks

Are Sports Socks Right for You?

If you have been considering improving your performance or recovery, it may be time to purchase compression socks. Whether you are an endurance athlete or enjoy the odd run, sports socks are here to help. For regular aches and pains, strains, performance problems and more, you could notice a world of difference with the right pair.

If you are interested in compression socks for sports, why not take a look at our catalogue? Alternatively, you can always call our team for advice on 1800 455 994 at your convenience.

Please note: The information provided here is for general information only and is not intended to act as medical advice. We advise anyone interested in this subject to seek qualified, professional advice.