Marathon runners are known for their compression socks. At any start line you'll see colorful compression knee socks as far as the eye can see. So are they for fashion or function? Are the benefits of compression socks in my head or on my legs?
Like many runners, I've been a fan of compression socks for a long time. Some runners wear compression during their runs, some wear after a long run for recovery, and some like me, do a combination of both.
I think hot pink compression socks during a race makes a fun fashion statement, but is there any real benefit outside of my fashion sense or is it all in my head?
Compression has potential recovery benefits. Manufacturers of the products claim they increase circulation in your legs, decrease lactic acid, prevent cramps and minimize muscle fatigue. I personally love the way compression feels on my tired legs after a long run and I believe it helps me recover.
Even though runners line up by the hundreds in their compression socks, there is little data that supports that compression can improve running performance. If the athlete believes that his or her compression socks cause him to run faster or longer, that perceived benefit can potentially boost performance, but it is no more scientific than a lucky charm.
So if you love compression for the fashion statement or it makes your legs feel great during or after a run, I say go for it! There is no harm in compression socks (as long as they are not too tight) and may even provide a psychological boost.
As for me and my legs? I will continue to wear compression socks on race day and to recover.
What do you think? Fashion or function?