The popularity of compression socks has increased substantially among athletes, particularly those participating in endurance events such as running and triathlon. Companies are increasingly marketing compression stockings to runners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes for the benefits of improved performance and/or decreased recovery time. Originally developed for the treatment of deep-vein thrombosis, compression socks are now marketed as a tool to improve venous return, thus believed to improve both performance and recovery in athletes. The use of compression socks during training aims to help the skeletal-muscle pump, increase deep venous velocity, and/or decrease blood pooling in the calf veins and alleviate delayed-onset muscle soreness. The scenario is a 28-y-old recreational triathlete seeking your advice while training for her first half-Ironman. She occasionally complains of tightness in the calves both during and after running. She wants your opinion on the effectiveness of using compression socks to help her performance and recovery.
Focused Clinical Question:
What is the effectiveness of using graduated compression socks for improving athletic performance and decreasing recovery time in healthy endurance athletes?
The author is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Recreation, Illinois State University, Normal, IL.