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Can compression socks boost athletic performance?

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Compression garments, such as socks, stockings and sleeves, are designed to improve blood flow which helps to reduce swelling and lowers the risk of developing blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and other circulation problems

You are more likely than ever before to see athletes on television wearing compression socks, but just how effective are they? It’s important to know whether these socks can give your body an advantage or whether it merely provides a mental boost. After all, if you are exercising during the summer months you might think it’s too warm to wear these socks if you won’t see much benefit!

Compression garments, such as socks, stockings and sleeves, are designed to improve blood flow which helps to reduce swelling and lowers the risk of developing blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and other circulation problems. Any medical professional will tell you that blood clots can be hugely problematic and even life-threatening if they end up in your bloodstream.

In addition, these socks can also combat problems with varicose veins, the visible and enlarged veins that can often be seen on the lower leg. An expert on varicose veins treatments explains that blood flow is improved by compression stockings which puts pressure on the vein, pushing the blood around the leg and preventing it from “pooling”.

It is for similar reasons that athletes have embraced compression garments. It is believed that the improved blood flow allows both enhanced performance and faster muscle recovery! Although some research claims that there is little evidence for a significant impact on performance, the ever-increasing numbers of athletes who swear by these socks suggest that they see real benefits!

In terms of the impact on recovery times, research shows that wearing compression socks or stockings reduces soreness after a workout and wearers report less damage to muscles. Although measuring the soreness an athlete experiences can be tricky, there is clearly a psychological boost from wearing these socks.

Aside from the popularity of these socks with athletes, they are also a great option for a whole range of individuals in different circumstances, from those who spend significant amounts of time sitting or aboard airplanes, to pregnant women. Also, if you suffer from conditions such as DVT or diabetes then the improvement in blood flow can help to reduce the symptoms or the risk of developing them in the first place.

What you need to consider when choosing compression socks

The most important aspect of picking compression socks is to ensure that you have the correct pressure for your requirements. A specialist can advise on the amount of compression that is safe for you. Wearing socks with too much compression can impact blood flow, while too little compression will offer almost no benefits. There are four main categories of compression stockings with Type 1 (10-15 mmHg compression) the lightest. If you are wearing these stockings to prevent conditions such as DVT then you are likely to require a higher compression. For athletes, however, Type 1 socks will often be your best option.

Wearing these socks incorrectly can prevent them from working effectively. Although they are meant to be fitted they should not be painful and the tops should not be rolled down, otherwise you can risk restricting blood flow.

Fortunately, there are a wide range of styles to ensure that you will be able to find a perfect pair that keeps you comfortable. It is easier than ever to purchase compression garments to suit your needs, whether you prefer the socks to cover your entire leg and foot, or to act as a sleeve around your leg.

There are plenty of materials on offer so there is no excuse for not wearing these socks and maximizing your athletic performance during the summer! Cotton socks might not be the best option during warm summer runs but a good choice for walking, whereas microfiber socks are great throughout the day and keep your legs and feet dry and cool. Sheer compression socks are some of the thinnest and most breathable materials you can find and a perfect choice for athletes and anyone engaging in more strenuous exercise.

Whether you are a professional athlete or an amateur runner or cyclist, wearing compression socks can give you the boost you need to maximize your performance and beat your personal best. Not only that, but these socks will ensure you remain healthy too!

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