To determine the effect of wearing compression socks between repeated running bouts on perceptual, physiological, and performance-based parameters.
Twelve well-trained male runners (mean ± SD 5-km time 19:24 ± 1:19 [min:s]) recorded their perceptions of the efficacy of compression socks for recovery before completion of 2 experimental sessions. Each session consisted of two 5-km running time trials (TT1 and TT2) on a treadmill, with a 1-h recovery period between. In a randomized crossover design, 1 session required participants to wear compression socks during the recovery period, and no compression socks were worn between TTs in the other session (control).
Running performance between TT1 and TT2 for runners wearing compression socks was similar between TTs (mean Δ 5.3 ± 20.7 s, d = 0.07, P = .20), whereas for control runners, performance significantly decreased in the second TT (mean Δ 15.9 ± 13.3 s, d = 0.19, P < .01). When grouped by perception of efficacy for compression socks, participants with strong beliefs (n = 7) experienced improved subsequent running performance with compression socks (mean Δ –3.6 ± 19.2 s, d = 0.05, P = .32) compared with those with neutral or negative perceptions (n = 5; mean Δ 17.9 ± 17.0 s, d = 0.19, P = .04). Cross-sectional area of the calf and muscle soreness were significantly reduced during the recovery period with the use of compression socks (P < .01), whereas ratings of fatigue showed no difference between conditions.
Wearing compression socks between repeated running bouts can aid recovery and subsequent performance. Furthermore, subsequent exercise performance may be even further enhanced when athletes believe in the efficacy of compression socks to assist in recovery between exercise bouts.
Brophy-Williams and Halson are with Physiology, Australian Inst of Sport, Belconnen, ACT, Australia. Driller is with Health, Sport and Human Performance, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Kitic and Fell are with the Sport Performance Optimisation Research Team, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS, Australia.