Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Compression socks vs compression sleeves - what is the difference and how do they work?

Compression socks and sleeves are becoming very popular with all kind of athletes, like runners, cyclist and triathletes. Their purpose can be two fold: to keep muscles warm and improve blood flow to the lower legs, and to aid in recovery after a race or harder workout. 
But, what is the difference between a compression sock and sleeve, and which would be the best choice for you?

A compression sock is full length from the toe to knee. This is a great choice if you're a runner that isn't particular about wearing a certain style sock. If your intent is to wear the compression garment for recovery, then the full length sock is the better choice. The sleeve may cause some mild swelling in the feet when your body is a little more sedentary. This won't be the case wearing the full length sock because of the constant compression from toe to knee.

A compression sleeve runs from the ankle to knee. When wearing a sleeve, you can wear your preferred socks and shoes.  For a triathlete, the sleeves are superior because they can be worn during the swim under the wetsuit and it saves time in transition. But if you race anything longer than a Half Ironman / 70.3, we always recommend the socks because you are including the foot part which is critical for longer races.


Compression Socks:
  • recovery
  • longer runs
  • longer triathlon races (from Half Ironman upwards)

Compression Sleeves:
  • to be used with your preferred running socks/shoes
  • shorter runs
  • shorter triathlon races

There are pros and cons for sure to both the sock and sleeve. It all comes down to personal preference and what your intended use will be.