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Product Review: A Bra For My Calves, Compression Socks

Posted Mar 24 2010 12:00am

When I first got into running I noticed that some people wore long socks.  Being fairly naive at the time I thought it was purely a fashion thing as many of my friends would wear high socks in my basketball or flag football league.  Heck, in college I would wear high socks during football games because, well because it looked better.  I also remembered my grandfather having lower leg issues and wearing tight stockings, and so as a new runner I dug a little deeper and asked around about high socks, was it fashion or function.  After conversations with Jerry I found out that they were compression socks and they had significant benefits.

The Science:  Compressions socks are designed to provide pressure on the lower leg and ankles, starting with pressure around the ankles and moving up the leg towards the knees.  Most compression socks are a lycra or spandex material to produce this tight comfort fit.  By compressing the surface veins, arteries and muscles; the circulating blood is forced through narrower channels. The arterial pressure is increased, causing more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet.

The Benefits:  How does all of this help distance runners and improve performance?  Here are some benefits of rocking the high socks on your next long run:

  • improved oxygen delivery to muscles
  • accelerated lactic acid removal
  • stabilization of the lower leg for greater muscle efficiency
  • cramp prevention
  • minimized muscle fatigue as a result of more compact muscles
  • speeding recovery

The Gear:  The following two are products that I wear and would recommend you try:

1) CW-X Compression Support Sock

Description: Features CW-X patented compression for increased circulation, compression 4-way stretch fabric for improved circulation, cushioned sole and toe, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, 90% nylon, 10% polyurethane.

Review: Once you get them on you can feel the snug fit and they are not too tight or annoying.  They stay up on your lower leg very well over long periods of running.  I never had any blister issues when wearing them.  They are a pain in the ass to get on as you have to roll them up and slide them over your heel first, if you don’t you will put them on unevenly.  They have not withstood the wash as well as I thought they would have for the money, after a season they are starting to loose their shape. I have them in black and they look good.

$41.00 at Zappos.com

2) Sugoi Knee High Compression Sock

Description: Performance and health benefits that were quantitatively verified at Hong Kong Polytechnic. Features progressive support, structured cushioning.  Designed to reduce slippage, and each sock is anatomically correct for left and right foot construction with mesh ventilation for improved breathability.

Review: They are snug, but not too snug, a bit longer than the CW-X so I have to adjust at the top by folding over, but is not an issue at all.  They stay up on your legs very well over long periods of running.  The anatomically correct left foot and right foot makes them easier to put on and gives a custom fit feel.  They have withstood many washes and have kept their shape very well.  I have them in white and am not a fan of their logo that is on the front.

$34.99 at Triathletesports.com

Final Thoughts:  Could I make an argument that all of the above is a bunch of bollox, absolutely.  In all honesty the main reason I wear compression socks is for the stabilization of my lower legs, it is like a bra for my calves.  Any high impact activity and constant motion, you need to give a little more support.  I have had less issue with my calves and lower legs since wearing compression socks, so to me the science sounds good, feels good and looks good.  I much rather have busted tan lines from compression socks than spend any more time then needed on my foam roller working out the kinks.

References: wisegeek.com/what-are-compression-socks.htm

triathlons.thefuntimesguide.com

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