When to Wear Compression Gear

Compression socks can provide more oxygen, improve blood circulation, muscle and joint stabilization, an improve metabolization of lactic acid, and speed recovery. Plus you get a good warm-up just trying to get them on!

So when is the best time to wear compression gear? During a run or after a run?

We featured this question in the quick tip portion of podcast episode 207.

Thanks to Academy member Rajesh R. for sending this in . . .


When Should I Wear Compression Gear?

Hi, I have some questions on compression socks. 
 Are they effective during the run or just after? -Rajesh

Compression works by increasing blood flow and reducing lactic acid build up through the lower legs (for calf sleeves/socks). The evidence for benefits during running is somewhat anecdotal but many athletes swear by the extra support and feel like their legs feel fresher during and after a run when they wear compression gear. Some people even report decreased incidence of Achilles tendinits and shin splints.

Beyond the possible physical benefits of wearing them while running the longer sleeves or socks can help shield your legs from dirt, pebbles, thorns, and other nuisances during a trail run. Plus, on those days when you can’t decide between wearing shorts and tights due to the weather, pairing long compression socks with shorts is a possible solution. Compression socks have even become a fashion accessory as there are many different styles, patterns and colors. Some are even reflective to add better visibility.

Are compression socks better or compression sleeves?

Since compression socks cover the entirety of your ankle and foot they would help promote better circulation and decreased swelling through the ankle and foot area. However, for some people who are very particular about what type of socks they wear, they may not like the feel of the compression socks. Most sock brands do have some type of compression socks so it might be wise to check and see if that’s an option.


How long should they be worn after the run?

Used post-run for recovery it is well known that compression does reduce swelling in legs and helps your muscles recover more quickly. A study, published in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that wearing compression socks for 48 hours after running a marathon improved performance on a treadmill test two weeks later. Subjects wearing the compression socks in this randomized, controlled, double blind test experienced 2.6% improvement on the test. Researchers concluded that this indicated that members of the compression sock group had fully recovered from their marathons while members of the control group had not.

Personally, after a long run or marathon I like to shower first and then wear compression socks or pants for the next 8 hours (I typically don’t sleep in them, although you could).

One final thought

Compression gear can also be helpful to promote better circulation if you have to sit for a long stretch of time such as during a flight. Dan recently wrote in and said, “I recently developed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and PE (pulmonary embolism) and since I have been educating myself there are a lot of risk factors for endurance athletes I was not aware of especially when flying.

Up to 100,000 Americans die each year from blood clots.
4. Which brand do you like? Popular brands include CW-X, Swiftwick, CEP, 2XU, Zensah. Basically you know you have an effective pair of compression socks if you break a sweat trying to get them on and off. I like CEP because they have medical grade compression for maximum benefits.

Related post: Review: Swiftwick Socks Help Runners Recover

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