Whilst compression wear encompasses everything from tights to t-shirts and long-sleeved tops, the natural – and arguably the most naturally beneficial – place to start is with socks, the use of which breaks down into two areas:
Race performance advantage +
During exercise, compression socks work in a number of ways.
The first of these is the optimising of blood flow achieved in all compression socks by effectively squeezing (usually in a graduated way – tighter on the lower calf, less so on the upper) the leg to deliver what is known as venous return – the promotion of blood flow back towards the heart.
Encouraging venous return allows the muscles to work harder and can reduce fatigue by flushing toxins and reducing the build-up of lactic acid, which some studies suggest may be detrimental.
Ryan Sandes running the Leadville Trail 100 in the Colorado Rockies.
In the case of CompresSport Full Socks blood circulation is further stimulated via the 3D.DOT technology around the foot itself – as an additional benefit these also act as tiny shock absorbers, dampening the impact of each footfall.
With the lower leg muscles cradled by compression socks, the second main benefit during a race comes from the reduction in muscle oscillation – imagine the almost imperceptible ripples moving up the leg (particularly through the calf) each time your foot hits the ground.
Keeping this ripple in check helps maximise muscle performance and can minimise the accumulative damage that builds up over the many hours on foot that an ultra-distance race involves.
The third benefit, common to all compression socks, is that they can help warm the muscles from an otherwise cold start, meaning that optimum performance is reached quicker.
However, CompresSport Full Socks offer a number of additional benefits.
The ‘ArchStim’ support, positioned on the arch of the foot, further promotes venous return, strengthens foot posture and helps maintain the socks position both on the foot and within the shoe.
The 3D.DOTs retain very little sweat and the channels between them work in conjunction with the wicking properties of the material to draw moisture away from the foot and help with ventilation; this reduces the risk of blisters (and worse…)
To the rear of the foot the 3D.DOTs work to protect the Achilles tendon – an area prone to injury on multi-day and multi-stage races.
Finally, consider the benefit from the Full Sock’s longer length; it will go a long way towards preventing sand and other trail detritus from getting directly next to the skin, although only your own choice of gaiters, plastic bags and gaffer tape can do anything about it getting into your shoes…
Compression socks are a key element in the RICE recovery strategy –
On occasions RICE is extended to RICER, with the additional ‘R’ standing for ‘Referral to a Doctor’ – assuming things are not that bad then either putting on (or keeping on) your CompresSport Full Socks will help speed recovery by continuing to support muscles as they heal, and promoting venous return (which is further helped by the ‘E’ for ‘Elevation; at race stage end, put your feet up!)
There is one other benefit of CompresSport Full Socks – both to the race and post-race phase – and that is psychological. Do not underestimate the effect of knowing you are using kit that gives you the best possible chance of success; complete confidence in apparel gives you one less thing to worry about.
Justin Bowyer is a contributor to Outdoor Fitness, Runner’s World and Cyclo.co.uk. He is the author of Running: Motivation, Nutrition & Hydration. He can be contacted via BoxfishMedia.co.uk With thanks to Compressport UK.