You may have seen runners in your neighbourhood sprinting in sleek, colourful socks or heard your runner friends mentioned these sleek, colourful socks, sometimes replaced by the word “sleeves” while discussing the fundamentals of running. What are they? Are they important for your running routine? Well, colourful or not these are sleeves and socks are surely sleek and tight and are known as calf compression sleeves or socks. And yes, the rumours are true – calf compression sleeves or socks do help you run better. How? Let’s find out!
Compression garments consist of various clothing pieces, crafted specifically for different body parts, such as compression tights for legs, compression shirts for the torso, compression shorts and underwear, compression sleeves and socks for calves.
Keeping to the title, here we shall discuss the reasons to wear calf compression sleeves and socks.
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What are Calf Compression Sleeves and Socks
Previously used by diabetics and patients with venous disorders, calf compression sleeves and socks were used as a means of treatment to improve poor blood circulation and prevent blood clots.
People with irregular blood circulation and distressing venous conditions find relief in these compression garments as they facilitate blood flow by upholding the leg muscle’s ability to pump blood from the lower parts of the leg up to the other parts of the body. These are very favourable to people with diabetes, venous disorders, pilots, dancers, or anybody who has a sedentary job, wherein the blood rush may face obstruction.
As the name implies, compression garments like socks and sleeves apply compression (upon wearing) to reduce venous pressure, prevent venous stasis and repair venous walls impairments. These specialized sleeves (footless socks) and socks/stockings are smartly designed with gradient pressure- tighter around the foot and gradually less as they move up towards your knees and thighs.
These are incredibly helpful bring relief to painful venous conditions, such as varicose veins and spider veins. Medical grade compression socks are designed a bit differently than the non-medical grade compression sleeves and socks.
Compression socks prescribed by doctors to deal with vein disorders and abnormal blood sugar level (diabetes) have a higher compression strength, between 20 mmHg and 40 mmHg. On the other hand, calf compression sleeves and socks which are worn by runners and athletes during workouts have compression strength ranging between 8 mmHg and 20 mmHg.
Before we discuss more on compression sleeves and socks, just an FYI – Compression garments do not eliminate varicose veins. They only help control the pain, making it bearable and relieving.
Having cleared that, let’s move on!
Calf Compression Sleeves for Runners
The possibilities of this efficient piece of compression garment have opened up with updates in athletic sports like running. Sports doctors and experts recommend the wearing of calf compression sleeves and socks while running, exercising, and dancing, etc. because they promote recovery and contributes to your total performance.
In the runner’s world, severe running injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis are very common. These injuries are a part of a runner’s life and hence many injury veterans harp on the importance of pulling up these calf compression socks and sleeves before hopping out for a jog.
Learn more on Best Compression Socks for the Runners
Sore lower legs and calf pains are others types of frustrating conditions that avid runners face. To ensure better prevention, you should invest in a pair of good quality calf compression sleeves and socks, and wear them daily as you go for your everyday runs. And if you are shunning these “must-have” running gears for cosmetic reasons, then let us tell you that calf compression sleeves and socks are no longer for oldies or diabetics.
Modern day compression socks and sleeves come in new fabrics and design that have revolutionised the compression market. They come in multiple colours and are made with a blend of breathable fabrics like nylon, polyester, wool, CoolMax, Lycra, and Spandex which have maximum moisture absorbing capacity and flexibility.
Reasons to Wear Calf Compression Sleeves & Socks
Now, many of you may want to have the reasons to wear calf compression sleeves and socks on your fingertips (ironical!) and the reasons you shall get!
Here are the top reasons why wear calf compression sleeves and socks are helpful to runners! Take a look:
Calf compression sleeves and socks cover your entire calf area which otherwise remains bare between the shoes and the shorts. Thus, they provide protection from abrasion, scratches, and nasty things like poison ivy on the trail.
It has been observed that compression technology restricts swelling. These graduated compression sleeves and socks control swelling in the feet, ankles, and lower legs by squeezing those tissue areas where fluid buildup is possible.
Compression socks and sleeves give you the option to skip the tights on days when you just don’t feel like running in them. On colder days, you can also wear them underneath your running tights. But make sure that those tights aren’t compressing below the knees.
Runners and other athletes have proclaimed to have experienced an enhancement in their performance while performing in calf compression sleeves and socks. This could be due to the improvement in blood circulation that increases muscle oxygenation which in turn bolster the performance level.
Helps in Recovery
Calf Compression sleeves and socks further destroy the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles after a strenuous training or a long run, thereby rendering quick relief and steady recovery from sore and fatigued muscles.
Last but not the least,
They also guard your legs against dirt and skidding stones as you run.
Some more reasons to keep a pair of calf compression sleeves and socks handy.
Be it on a flight or a bus, a major part of the travelling goes in sitting in a fixed position with minimal movements. Hence, it leads to pooling of blood around the ankles and causing leg pains. The compression socks and sleeves fight this problem by supporting blood flow up the body, from the legs to the other parts.
While Doing Crossfit
Practically, the benefits of compression socks in running and CrossFit are the same. However, during CrossFit, the dangers of getting calf cramps and muscles pull is relatively higher with constant shifts in the intensity of the movements. Calf compression sleeves and socks minimize the chances of meeting with cramps and hastens the recovery from leg strains.
Most of the passionate female runners tend to run even in pregnancy. They should take it slow and check with their doctors while running. However, during pregnancy, there is a risk of developing varicose veins and female runners are highly prone to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). Wearing compression socks and calf sleeves keep the development of such vein problems in check. Furthermore, due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, there’s an increase in blood coagulation that can lead to blood clotting. Thus, compression socks keep you healthy during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.
Calf Compression Sleeves tightness hazards
Wearing calf compression sleeves and socks which can be a boon or a bane. If on one hand, compression garments are used as a conservative management of the vein problems, it can also lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), another type of vein disorder.
Fit and pressure are two vital components of calf compression sleeves and socks. Lack of correct or excess pressure can cause blood clots in the calves and feet, leading to DVT. Potentially, runners are at a greater risk of DVT than the general populace. This is because the DVT condition aggravates with long, strenuous workouts like running. An ignored calf pain can be a serious DVT symptom!
And an untreated DVT condition can transform into pulmonary embolism (PE) which has a higher death rate. Hence, just wearing compression socks and calf sleeves isn’t enough. Understand the amount of pressure you require or can endure. Consult with an expert before grabbing the calf compression sleeves and socks.
Most companies and brands manufacture compression socks and calf sleeves using measurements of your body. This helps you find the right fit. Wearing compression garments isn’t universal in size. So, make sure that you find the correct compression socks in the right sizing and pressure.
Avoid wearing two layers of compression socks and calf sleeves.
Calf compression sleeves and socks have more application than you think. Primarily used to assist in the progress of blood flow, these compression socks and calf sleeves are a runner’s best friend now. They not only mitigate running injury chances but contribute to excellent performance as well. They bring about proper blood circulation that lends itself to quick recovery from previous injuries.
If not while your daily jogs, wearing calf compression sleeves and socks during long distance races, such as marathons and half marathons is a strict must!