by Dr. Brant McCartan
Sports specific socks hit stores in the early 1980’s. Many companies have since jumped into this market, and bold claims have been made pertaining to the performance advantages of specific socks. With all the choices out there, it is tough to select the correct sock. Inconsistent and varying data makes it difficult to swallow the increased cost on the newest technology. Compression socks are one option that many runners have tried in attempts to improve speed and reduce pain and injuries.
Compression socks (CS) were originally designed to help treat venous thrombus formation and venous insufficiency. Many people who are on their feet all day have felt benefits such as decreased leg swelling and alleviation of soreness and cramping. Studies show that wearing CS may alleviate exercise-induced muscle damage, lessen inflammation and delay soreness and reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (pain twenty-four hours following exercise. One study hypothesized that lower body compression garments may negatively affect running performance in higher temperatures. The results showed no negative impact, and the authors surprisingly discovered improvement in time to exhaustion when wearing CS in temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit – give them a try when running in hot weather.
The time tested method of trial and error is the best method of picking the correct sock. Bring your running shoes with you into the store and make sure the fit is right. Though a direct correlation between socks and speed may be lacking, it is still important to pick a sock that is comfortable and allows you to train and compete without injury.