I pride myself on being a very low maintenance runner. I don’t require all the fancy bells and whistles that some runners do. Having completed more road races than I can count, I have seen quite the array of running gizmos and gadgets. I actually find it quite entertaining during races to observe all the fancy compression socks, energy belts, headbands, ear phones, etc. as I whiz by in my old Nike shorts from high school and free Apple headphones, laughing to myself and thinking, “looks like money can’t buy you speed.”
Who knows, maybe it’s actually just jealousy. Having been a student for the first 26 years of life with no income, I have no choice other than to pick a low-cost hobby. I am a Physical Therapist. I believe in finding the root of the problem when I have pain or discomfort and allowing the body to make the corrections needed. I don’t want some temporary external device to give me temporary relief.
Why Did I Try Compression Socks?
With that being said, I decided to give CEP Progressive Compression Socks a try when we were given a sample at my new place of employment.Compression socks are designed to help with venous return from the lower body to the upper body or, more simply put, to help blood circulate more efficiently. The thought is that since oxygen is carried in the blood, improved blood flow in the body = improved supply of oxygen to the muscles = improved muscle function and improved performance. Let’s be honest, who DOESN’T want to run faster? So, I figured I’d give the socks a shot.
My Thoughts on Compression Socks
I completed two 7-mile runs on the treadmill wearing the socks and here’s my impression.
Appearance: As stated previously, I take pride in being a minimalist runner. I don’t enjoy drawing attention to myself and don’t typically wear showy or flashy prints and colors. I will admit, I felt like a huge goof wearing compression socks. Thankfully I run in my apartment gym at 5:00 am and typically don’t see a single wide-eyed soul awake. I actually do like the bright pink neon-color of the socks; they’re just not my preference for running. The socks come in a variety of fun, bright colors as well as black, so there is most likely something that will suit your fancy.
Comfort: I truly didn’t notice the socks during my runs, which is ideal in my opinion. Granted, I was indoors with air conditioning. They seemed to be quite breathable and I didn’t have any problems with them feeling itchy or hot. The snug fit of the socks felt like they provided my arch and calves with a nice “hug” of support without being suffocating.
Performance: The most noticeable benefit I felt from the socks is that they made me feel light on my feet. My large ex-ballerina calves have a reputation for giving me a feeling of fullness or heaviness during and after runs. The socks gave me a slight bit of a lifted feeling and kept my legs from feeling as heavy as they normally are.
Recovery: I honestly didn’t notice much in terms of recovery. I run first thing in the morning and am on my feet all day. I still felt the usual calf-tightness and heaviness at the end of the day. I’m guessing that wearing the socks throughout the day could be beneficial to me. However, I did not attempt this, as they didn’t match my sandals and maxi skirt.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5.0 stars
For someone who does have problems with venous return, lower extremity edema, or shin splints, I would definitely recommend compression socks, BUT I would also recommend seeing a physical therapist to address the root of the problem. I do think the socks would be beneficial for someone in a profession that keeps them on their feet all day to decrease pooling and help with circulation. Lastly, I think the socks would be advantageous for cold-weather runs, as they could assist in quickening warm-up of the leg musculature and help with keeping the legs warm throughout the run.