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Compression Socks - Worth all the Hype or Just Another Running Trend?

Elaine Standohar's picture
Compression socks

Compression socks initially made their debut as medically necessary apparel for diabetics, airline pilots, and women fighting unsightly varicose veins. In more recent years, these knee-highs have transitioned their reputation into a fashionable, performance enhancing accessory for athletes and runners alike. When speaking of their medical benefits, critics can attest to their necessity and effectiveness, however, when it comes to their role in providing an athletic edge to runners, said critics are skeptical to say the least.


Let’s first start with what exactly compression socks are: as the name implies, compressions are socks are knee-high athletic socks, similar in appearance to tube socks, that fit snugly around the foot, ankle, and calf muscle. The proclaimed purpose of compression socks is to enhance running performance and boost endurance.

Compression socks, offer additional performance and endurance benefits that many runners have already experienced and can whole-heartedly attest to – despite the critics. Below is an impressive list of benefits demonstrated to runners by these tightly fitting socks:

  • Accelerate blood circulation in feet and legs
  • Reduce the buildup of lactic acid and other toxins within the muscles
  • Aid in muscle recovery
  • Provide arch and ankle support and help prevent injuries
  • Prevent unnecessary muscle oscillation, or movement, during sprints and long distance runs
  • Minimize muscle exhaustion
  • Faster recovery
  • Protect your legs from abrasions, scratches, and poison ivy on trail runs
  • Proven to limit swelling in the legs post runs

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In what seems to be an infinite number of reasons to sport these socks, there are (as mentioned before) compression sock critics out there who are all but convinced of the true effectiveness of the claims made by manufacturers and supporters of this explosive fitness trend. To date, there is very little scientific evidence to prove or even suggestively support the performance claims of compression socks. Runners are also warned of potential sizing issues with these socks. If you buy a pair that is too small, they are, understandably, going to fit too tightly, and could negatively impact running performance. On the flip side, a pair that fits too big, will undoubtedly slip and fall down during a run, rendering them ineffective and pointless.

Pros and cons weighed against one another, it’s not a huge risk giving compression socks a trial run (quite literally!). Worst case scenario: you notice no tangible difference in your running performance or endurance. And even then, you’re still left with a trendy pair of knee-highs to go hiking in or incorporate into a wild Halloween costume.

Photo credit: runnersworld.com



Excellent review and information! I think I will get some for my next long flight. Those flights do hurt my legs.