Compression Socks. Hate ‘em? Love ‘em? Don’t Care About ‘em? Just. Another. Silly. Fad?
I was totally anti-compression socks fad. I always thought of them as a trendy accessory for running fashion victims. At best, they were for those who wanted to mimic Paula Radcliffe’s awesomeness. But not for this girl. Upwards of $60 for a pair of stinking (pun intended) socks? Socks! I was sure this silly fad that would fade away.
But then I got curious and did a little research. Hmmm. Maybe they’re more than wannabe-wear.
Ok, I admit it: I have changed my tune, so much so that I might actually be ready to give ‘em a try this fall racing season.
These snug, knee-high compression socks are actually meant to increase circulation and reduce lactic acid build-up (the stuff that makes your legs burn when you run fast). (They were originally intended to help those suffering with diabetes.) Some swear by wearing them while racing to improve performance. Some swear by wearing them after a hard race or work out to enhance quick recovery. There is no scientific evidence supporting either camp, but that doesn’t mean either is wrong.
Decreased muscle soreness and enhanced recovery have been consistently reported by users, as the socks compress to alleviate swelling and inflammation after a tough run. After pounding the pavement for a 21-miler on Wednesday, Thursday’s run will likely be painful; however, compression socks can lessen that pain, according to some. As our own Salty blogger, Vanilla, suggests wearing skinny jeans the night after a long run might be just as beneficial, and a little more fashionable for a bar hopping or the such.
Though reducing muscle damage is generally a good thing. We runners actually need that damage to be the trigger for adaptation and improvement in performance. (Really! Read all about it in Cinnamon’s awesome Runner’s Guide to Inflammation)It’s only when we break down stuff that it gets the chance to build up, right? But to possibly alleviate some of the pain that comes along with that damage by pulling on a pair of socks sounds like a pretty legit deal to me!
Compression sock reviews are mixed depending on the individual runner and the length of training or racing runs. Personally, I’ve never tried them, but I’m going to invest in a pair as I train for the Columbus Half Marathon this fall. I’d like to try running with them during a few of my 10 and 12 miler training runs as well as try them out after tougher speed work-outs. I also plan to wear them in the Scioto miles 15k a few weeks before the actual half to see if I mind them when actually racing. I’ll plan to report back!
Do you wear compression socks? Got any brand recommendations? Are there other fads in the running apparel industry that intrigue you? Annoy you?