ZaTech compression socks: Are compression socks good for running and endurance?
Compression Socks for Long-Distance Runners
By Court Levins
This blog series is for you! Here, we answer some of your most asked questions backed by science and current research.
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Hey everyone! Today we’re going to dive into compression socks and their effects on long-distance running.
What makes a long-distance runner?
You don’t need to run marathons or be on a cross country team to consider yourself a long-distance runner- it’s all rather relative. Depending on your consistency, cross training, and activity level, what constitutes as long-distance running will vary depending on who you ask. Regardless, ultra-marathons, marathons, 10-kms, and 5-kms have exploded in popularity across the nation. Community running groups, brewery 5-kms, and fundraisers have all begun utilizing running events to bring people together and motivate one another through movement. For many runners who participate in long-distance running events, a large concern is maintaining performance during their event and maximizing recovery immediately afterwards.
Running Compression Socks - Research Relative to Endurance and Distance
While digging through the research, it became clear that this area of science is still in its infancy. However, because of the demand and interest from athletes to improve their performance and recovery, this area of research is starting to grow. Right now, it’s hypothesized that compression socks enhance venous return by improving blood flow and decreasing swelling – ultimately improving athletic performance while running.2 During recovery, it’s currently hypothesized that compression socks decrease swelling and any potential onset of edema, while improving oxygen delivery to your muscles and clearing metabolic waste more rapidly.2 For simplicity and clarity, I will be detailing three studies done within the past decade on the use of compression socks in endurance running.
One study done by Mizuno et al. in 2016 consisted of two experiments to determine whether compression garments (in the form of socks) improve recovery after downhill running while concurrently reducing the effects of exercise-induced muscle damage. In this study, they noted that the effects of compression garments in endurance athletes post-exercise and on their recovery have not been clearly stated.1 Mizuno et al. observed significant improvements in counter movement jumps and rebound jumps in those wearing compression garments during the downhill running experiment. These subsequent findings determined that the impact of compression garments on recovery in endurance athletes seems to be dependent on the intensity of their exercise-induced muscle damage.1 Though, it should be noted that this study did not find any implications in muscle damage parameters or in serum inflammatory markers to further promote the use of compression garments for endurance runners.1 Although this study did not observe any direct effects of compression socks on running recovery, they did find that compression socks improve running technique with regards to counter movement jumps and rebound jumps when running downhill.
Another study conducted by Zaleski et al in 2019 sought to determine the influence that compression socks have on creatine kinase levels in marathon runners. For those unfamiliar with creatine kinase- it assists in determining muscle damage and is measured via a blood test.2 Blood was taken from study participants just before the start of the marathon and immediately after completing the event.2 The study found no difference in creatine kinase levels between those who wore compression socks during the event and those who did not.2 Although there were no significant correlations between compression socks and endurance athletes muscle stress, it is important to note that researchers did not find any negative effects from wearing compression socks during marathons.2
Finally, a third study done in 2013 by Jorn Bovenschen et al sought to determine the implications of compression socks on two variables: lower leg volume (swelling) and leg complaints both during and post-exercise in runners. Their hypothesis was that the compression socks would improve venous return in the legs, which would reduce both leg volume and exercise-induced leg pain complaints.3 Their major finding was leg volume was reduced right after their subjects completed a 10-km run, as well as immediately after a maximum exercise test (that was administered separately) when compression socks were used.3 There were no major differences found in leg pain-related complaints.3 While the major finding in this study confirms that compression socks usage in runners decreases leg volume immediately after a run, the mechanism as to how compression socks do so remains inconclusive and research continues.3
Enter: ZaTech Compression Socks
So, in conclusion, although there are some evident benefits, research correlating compression socks with improved performance and recovery for endurance athletes - specifically, runners, remains in its early stages - in fact, thousands of runners utilize them and enjoy their benefits. Independent from endurance running, compression socks are known in medical settings to reduce the onset of lower leg swelling and edema by improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles.2 For those reasons, compression socks could assist in reducing leg swelling, increase nutrient and oxygen delivery to your muscles, and improve how you feel and recover after long-distance runs.2
So, what’s the takeaway we got from all this research - it is all personal!
Give ZaTech compression socks a try and see if they work for you! As we mentioned, studies have shown that there are no negative effects associated with running in compression socks… so there’s no harm in giving them a go!2 While science continues to dive into the potential benefits of compression socks for runners, we’ve had numerous customers tell us that they love running in our compression socks. So, what do you have to lose? Check out our different styles and see what pair might work best for you. If you need help deciding what style is right for you, our team is ready and happy to help!
- Mizuno S, Morii I, Tsuchiya Y, Goto K. Wearing Compression Garmet after Endurance Exercise Promotes Recovery of Exercise Performance. Int J Sports Med. 2016;37(870-877). I http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0042-106301. Accessed February 48, 2021.
- Zaleski AL, Pescatello LS, Ballard KD, et al. The Influence of Compression Socks During a Marathon on Exercise-Associated Muscle Damage. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 2019;28(724-728). https://doi.Org/10.1123/jsr.2018-0060. Accessed February 24, 2021.
- Jorn Bovenschen H, te Booij M, van der Vleuten CJM. Graduated Compression Stockings for Runners: Friend, Foe, or Fake? Journal of Athletic Training. 2013;48(226-232). doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.1.26. Accessed February 24, 2021.