How Long to Wear Compression Socks After Running?
Compression socks are increasing in popularity with both professional and amateur athletes who find them to be invaluable to increase the amount of time they can train, and improving recovery time as well. If you’re new to them you might be wondering how long to wear compression socks after running to fully maximize the benefits they offer, so in this article we will look at what they do, and the best way to use them.
What Are Compression Socks?
Compression socks originated from a medical background to aid people with limited circulation in their lower legs, but have become a firm favorite for sportspeople across a wide range of activities. They are made from elasticated fabrics that apply pressure around the areas they are worn to maintain or increase the flow of blood.
This increases the amount of oxygen that passes the muscles to allow them to function better and recover faster, as well as removing waste products more efficiently, so you don’t experience as much swelling or discomfort.
In a sporting environment this means you can push for longer and recuperate sooner. Runners, in particular, will benefit from compression socks as opposed to other compression sleeves because the feet, ankles, and calves are the areas that endure the most strain.
How Do Compression Socks Work?
To explain how compression socks work we must first understand the processes that go on while you are running. The cells and muscles in your legs need oxygen and nutrients to continually generate energy for movement. Your heart is responsible for pumping the blood around your body to supply these ingredients, but the further away from the core of your body a muscle is, the less efficient the flow will become. This is because the blood must travel further and, in the case of your legs, gravity works against it too.
The cells also produce waste products throughout the process in the form of lactic acid, and the longer this stays around the more things will start to ache and performance will worsen. Another factor in play is when your muscles get tired; something that happens at a faster rate due to the impacts and vibrations they endure while you are on a run.
Compression socks help will all of these problems. First they encourage a more efficient blood flow. The pressure they exert causes your blood vessels to dilate so more blood can pass through, and also help to increase the speed at which it passes. This has the effect of providing your muscles with far more nutrients, and removes much more lactic acid.
Most socks will be graduated, so they will apply more pressure lower down than higher up, which helps to fight the effects of gravity. The tight grip around your muscles will also reduce the vibrations that pass through them and reduce the fatigue this can cause.
You can also use compression socks for recovery from running, because in this stage your muscles still need oxygen and nutrients to heal and strengthen themselves, as well as the removal of the remaining waste products. An increased blood flow at this time will shorten the amount of time it takes to revert to normal.
How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks for Recovery?
The first thing to be aware of is that it is not dangerous to wear compression socks for extended periods of time, in fact many people wear them all day for work and if they are prescribed by a doctor the advice is to only take them off at night. It’s important to give your legs a chance to relax without the compression on occasions, but beyond that it’s up to you to experiment and see how they are helping in your situation.
They absolutely can help for recovery after running because they maintain a higher blood flow to provide your muscles and cells with everything they need to recover faster. One study that was looking at marathon runners asked participants to wear compression socks for 48 hours after a marathon, and found that their performance was noticeably better during another race two weeks later.
The length you need to wear them for will depend upon how tired your legs and feet are, your natural recovery ability, and how effective the particular socks you have are. In most cases a few hours or an evening should suffice to keep you feeling mobile and fresh the next day.
The Final Word
Running is an extremely popular activity and a great way to keep fit and healthy. As I’m sure you have experienced, though, it can result in soreness and aching in your feet and legs- something that wearing compression socks during and after your run can help to alleviate.
To fully advantage from the benefits they offer, you should be aware of how long to wear compression socks after running, with the time varying from person to person and affected by the amount of effort that has been exerted during your run. Please comment in the section below if you have any questions, and good luck with your new socks.