For decades, graduated compression socks have been used as a medical tool to combat deep vein thrombosis (DVTs). The socks have been found effective in reducing pain and swelling for bed-ridden and inactive patients which may support the prevention of the formation of blood clots.
A few years ago, however, athletes started wearing graduated compression socks while running and/or for recovery after endurance sports. But do compression socks really work?
Manufacturers of athletic compression socks claim they increase oxygen delivery, decrease lactic acid, prevent cramps and shin splints, minimize fatigue and speed up recovery. That said, research on athletic compression socks provide mixed conclusions.
According to research:
What this means:
There is currently not strong evidence that wearing compression socks will improve one’s performance and in many cases, recovery; however, there is little to no evidence that they will hurt one’s performance or cause injury. If you are curious to know if these socks will help your recovery or performance, test them out for yourself. If you already wear them and think they help, continue to wear them as they may indeed be assisting in your recovery.
If you wear compression socks to help deal with an injury and it does not help relieve the pain, stop by one of our Athletico locations and set up a complimentary injury screen with an endurance therapist.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1Armstrong SA, Till ES, Maloney SR, and Harris GA. Compression socks and functional recovery following marathon running: a randomized controlled trial. J Strength Cond Res; 2015 Feb 29(2): 528-533.
2Stanek JM. The effectiveness of compression socks on athletic performance and recovery. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 2016 August 24: 1-16.
3Ali A, Creasy RH, and Edge JA. The effect of graduated compression stockings on running performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2011 May; 25(5): 1385-1392.