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THE HISTORY OF THE SPORTS COMPRESSION SOCK
– THE SHORT VERSION…

The sports compression socks really saw the light of day in London in 2003, when the English runner Paula Radcliffe set the marathon world record with a time of 2.15.25, wearing the characteristic long socks. And since then, compression socks for running and other sports have become more and more common. And there are several good reasons for this...

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WANT TO BE AN EXPERT ON SPORTS COMPRESSIONS SOCKS? – THEN DIG INTO THIS...

Compression socks have been used for medical treatment for a long time, primarily for people with a poor circulation.

But as stated above Paula Radcliffe helped the explosion of the use of compression socks in running about 10 years ago. We have gathered a whole load of research and information on what compression socks actually does for you as an athlete. So please dig into all the arguments below – and should you have any comments or questions please get in touch...

WHAT CAN SPORTS COMPRESSION SOCKS ACTUALLY DO?

An analytical approach…


There are many approaches to sports compression socks. Some athletes are of the opinion that sports compression socks are of no value whatsoever – and some athletes swear they couldn’t live without them. And that’s just the way it is!

Here at the site, we have compiled some of the theories and arguments for using a sports compression sock. While you’re running, afterwards and even before running.

While running: some will feel the effect, others won’t


Few studies conclude that compression socks will directly improve your performance while running. A study often referred to by other producers of compression socks is the study by J. Strength Cond res. 2009, which demonstrated a 6 % performance effect when they tested a number of runners running with an increasing intensity all the way to exhaustion. With the compression sock, the runners could keep up approx. one minute longer than without it – and that corresponded to an increase in performance of 6 %, while at the same time the runners increased their energy consumption with 5 %.

But since the researchers could conclude at the same time that the maximum oxygen absorption – corresponding to the fitness rating – had increased only marginally, their main conclusion was that the underlying increase in performance wasn’t exactly of a physical nature – but more of a psychological nature..!

So we at +PLUSSOCK won’t try to make you believe (contrary to other producers of sports compression socks) that you can directly improve your performance by improving the maximum oxygen absorption (VO2-max) with a pair of compression socks. That’s taking it too far – and we don’t want that …

But still: given that you won't experience pain and aches that quickly, then you will increase your stamina. And an increase in stamina could mean that you can perform a bit more than if you weren't wearing compression socks. So you might say indirectly that your performance can be improved by wearing compression socks while running.

Furthermore, it's a fact that well-being and comfort in connection with running naturally gives you a better running experience, less irritation and less speculation about pain and with this in mind, it will be – psychologically – of great advantage to a lot of people to wear compression socks while running.

So our conclusion is that we don't believe that compression socks will directly improve your running performance – BUT that they indirectly mean that you can minimise:

- pain & muscle cramps

- fatigue & swelling

And in turn that means that you achieve even more basic advantages:

- You'll experience more energy while running

- You'll feel a higher degree of stamina while running

- You'll experience a more comfortable run

- You'll experience a higher degree of psychological energy while running


After running – improvement can be felt by most:

Most people will feel the highest degree of improvement from running with a pair of compression socks after running.

A study by Professor Ali et al in 2007 (J. Sports Sci 25 (4): 420-425) showed among other things that test runners had delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) on day two 24 hours after a ten km performance with a pair of correctly graduated compression socks.

And in 2012, the researchers Byrne & Easton likewise came to the conclusion that muscle soreness is reduced and restitution came sooner with the use of compression socks.

These results are the foundation of the basic idea of a sports compression sock, which is about the bloodstream's transportation of oxygen to the muscles: when you run, your arteries transport oxygen-rich blood from your heart down to your feet, while at the same time the veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to your heart.

A lot of the oxygen that is pumped into your legs accumulates due to gravity, and thereby the oxygen-poor blood is 'pooled' in your legs over time. This inhibits the free flow of the fresh, oxygen-rich blood. And that means you feel fatigue, irritation and possibly pain.


A correctly graduated compression sock puts a constant, hard pressure on the veins in the lower leg – highest pressure at the ankle, and lowest pressure just below the knee. In this way, the bloodstreams are squeezed together and the circulation is increased, much in the same way as when you squeeze the hole of a hose together; and that means that the oxygen-poor blood is – in popular terms – "flushed" back to the heart. This means that lactic acid and other waste matter in your lower legs disappears quicker when you wear the socks after a long run.

In short, you can just sit down and relax after your run, while the compression socks so to speak work at full throttle flushing the waste matter away from your legs. After about ½-1 hour, you can remove your socks – and you'll experience:

- That your leg muscles are less sore

- That your legs are less swollen

- That your legs feel less heavy

- That your restitution arrived earlier than usual

- That you're ready to run again sooner


And no matter if you're a recreational athlete or a pro, one of the most important focus points is your restitution. Compression socks will actually help you recover faster, and shortly after you can do your best one more time without having to fight swollen legs or outright pain.

And you shouldn't belittle the fact that a better restitution can be transferred into an even better performance next time you run. The two are intertwined; quicker restitution from training or competition means that it's possible for you to take on an even heavier training burden, and we all know that your next training session is only as good as the quality of your restitution.


Another important theory about why you return to status quo quicker when you practise sports wearing compression socks is the theory about 'muscle vibration'.

It's not quite scientifically proven, but there is evidence for the following: when you run and your feet hit the ground, the muscle fibres are struck and vibrate. These vibrations enhance increased fatigue and soreness in the muscles in the lower legs. When you're wearing compression socks, the muscles are held in a tight grip, and the vibrations are highly reduced. So according to this theory, fatigue, pain and soreness in the lower legs after a long run could be reduced by wearing compression socks while running and not 'just' putting them on afterwards, because you don't believe they'll help improve performance. For this reason, it also makes sense wearing them while you run.

The muscle vibration theory is also supported by the professional long and triple jumpers, who are sometimes seen wearing compression socks. Of course they're not wearing the socks to get rid of the lactid acid – but it makes sense to wear them, as their legs if any are on vibration overtime...

One last theory about the advantage of restitution with compression socks are shared by almost all advocates of compression socks. They deal with 'the pure psychological advantage' of feeling the tightness and squeeze of the compression during the restitution process. A number of studies show that the 'feel-good' and comfort experience of wearing compression socks is very valuable. If you feel that you're doing something good for your body, your body will respond positively.


Maybe even before running/performing ...

It's also a good idea to put on the compression socks before a long run. E.g. when you have a long trip ahead of you, or when you're waiting at a hotel or in an airplane on your way to a sports event. When you travel, your legs sometimes swell from not moving (much). If you put on your compression socks, your starting point may be slightly better, when you're out to perform.

And the theory is supported by the fact that some airline pilots, train operators and truck drivers also use compression socks from time to time.


Conclusion
:

The way we see it, you can gather all the advantages in your run and post-run in three scenarios you avoid, and three scenarios that are added:

- Minus pain & muscle cramps

- Minus muscle soreness & stiffness

- Minus fatigue & swelling


+ Plus energy & endurance

+ Plus recovery & regeneration

+ Plus comfort & well-being

 

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