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Compression socks: Why wear them and how to choose the right ones?

Compression socks: Why wear them and how to choose the right ones?

18. 7. 2022 5 min. reading

Compression socks provide several benefits to runners, especially during races or long runs. Why should you wear them and how to choose the right compression socks?

Quality running socks together with running shoes are basics which ensure a run without pain, blisters, and abrasions. Compression socks also have several interesting features that you will appreciate as a runner.  We spoke with Petr Vabroušek who represents one of the best compression sock brands in the Czech Republic - SLS3 about compression socks and their function.

What principle do compression socks work on?

Compression socks or sleeves tighten the calf muscle. Harder at the ankle and gradually less upwards (graduated compression). This helps the venous blood to return, slightly lowers blood pressure, and relieves muscle pain and the feeling of heavy legs.

What are their undeniable benefits?

Compression socks are not the saving grace for runners with improper running technique or running deviations such as pronation or supination. So what are their benefits?

  • Support during impact and rebound - The muscle does not shake as much and is more powerful, and less damaged after the race or long run.
  • Recovery - Gives you a nice tightening and hugging feeling in the calf muscle.
  • Warm-up - The feet and calf muscles will be warmed up if you wear socks. 
  • Travel buddies - When you travel many hours, they greatly help limit swelling in the feet. So you can run out immediately after arriving at a new destination because you will not have "heavy legs".

Compression socks and blood circulation: yes or no?

Some say that compresses help with blood circulation, others refute this claim. In fact, this is a very difficult figure to measure. Theoretically, it should be and sensationally it really is. But it cannot be relied upon 100%. So get compresses primarily for muscle support or recovery, not for better blood circulation.


Why should a runner wear compression socks?

With compression socks, you can run longer and with less fatigue. If you're into long runs, they shouldn't be missing from your running gear. Another effect, especially with quality brands, is the elimination of blisters. For example, the famous Marathon Des Sables (a stage race across the Sahara). The Czech team completed it in SLS3 compression socks without the need to visit the doctor's' tent because of blisters. And one background info - they were one of the few!

How long does it take a runner to feel the effect of compression socks?

Compression socks start working immediately. Immediately after putting them on, there is a pleasant tightening feeling. From the first running steps, you start to feel the support effect.

How long should a runner wear compression socks?

This is very individual. You can use them for races, long runs, recovery, or long travel.

  • Races / long runs - You can wear them in the morning before you go to a race or training. It's a signal to your legs and psyche that "something is going to happen". It keeps your legs fresh for the run even after a long journey. For triathlons, choose compression calf sleeves, which you can wear under your wetsuit in the water and don't have to stay in the transition area. 
  • Recovery - After a race or training session, put on a second pair for the rest of the day to quickly start your recovery.
  • Longer travel or standing - In this case, keep the compression socks or sleeves on your feet at all times for the duration of the activity.

For short and fast runs, leave the compression socks in the drawer, and don't "spoil" your legs too much. You'll probably spend more time putting on socks than actually training. However, we definitely recommend trying out a new pair of socks at a training session before you run a race in them.


Do compression socks have any disadvantages?

As Petr says: "I have been using them for over 20 years and I have not encountered any potential disadvantages so far. The only thing is that it takes longer to put them on and take them off." We can confirm, putting them on and taking them off is sometimes a real challenge!

Choosing compression socks - What to focus on?

Above all, choose a quality brand. The best ones will keep 100% of their function even after a hundred washes. And they'll last (when are used for weekend races) for many years. Customers come to Petr's for a new pair even after 7-8 years! Top4Running runners have found the Compressport, Craft, and CEP brands to be the best. Unfortunately, many brands lose most of their functionality after 10+ washes. Ask other runners for personal experience and see what fits you!

One pair of compression socks is a good and practical thing for every runner. For running, recovery, or traveling to races. Check out the Top4Running offer and choose!

Running and compression socks

And thanks to Petr for the new and interesting information!