Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Truth About Compression Socks

Lately, there has been a lot of hype in the athletic community about compression gear, such as socks. But, there has also been a lot of confusion. What everyone wants to know is simply, “do compression socks really work?” The answer - Yes.

While studies thus far have offered many contradictions as to the details surrounding the benefits, by and large what has become clear is that athletes feel a difference when they use compression apparel. Many have cited advantages such as speedy post-workout recoveries and maximized performance thanks to compression socks. Bonus, they look really professional.

This might be enough to convince you, but for the skeptics - let’s have a look at the facts.


Compression Socks in Action

Rather than relying on the perplexing and scarce information available, Elmarie Terblanche, a professor of Sports and Physiology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, recently decided to go forth with her own first-hand research. What she found was enough to convince her.

Terblanche studied athletes running in South Africa’s Two Oceans ultra-race. Some of the runners wore regular knee-high socks, others wore nothing, and some wore their trusty compression socks. What she observed was a significant difference in performance between those wearing the gear, and those who were not. The participants  wearing compression socks outran their competitors, averaging at 12 minutes faster!

Moreover, they reported much less muscle damage and saw quicker recoveries.


The Science is There

That compression socks can enhance your athletic performance is far from delusion. Despite the fact that the research can often seem unreliable, the science is indisputable. 

Here are some straight-forward facts to consider.

1. That compression increases blood-flow is a validated medical theory that has been in practice for decades. In this time, doctors have been using graduated compression socks to combat deep vein thrombosis, and the formation of blood clots. The gear has been proven highly-effective with immobile patients, especially. By the same token, using compression gear post-exercise can accelerate the removal of metabolic waste while replenishing substances required to rebuild the muscle.

2. By optimizing blood-flow and oxygen intake, as compression gear does, symptoms of fatigue can have a slower onset. This means an athlete should be able to go harder, for longer, without becoming sluggish. This hypothesis has been supported by some studies.


Pro-Athletes Are All In

Compression gear is the best kind of trend - it’s practical, and beneficial.

Champion distance-runner Chris Solinksy broke records while wearing compression socks two seasons ago. For him, its all about the post-workout benefits: “I found I was able to come off the workouts much, much quicker.”

Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III has said that he simply “feels faster” in his compression gear.

It all comes down to how compression gear can make an athlete feel.


Ultimately, the allegations that the benefits may not be fully-proven can be largely brushed off by the anecdotal evidence and the supporting science. 

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