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Runners are often seen sporting long socks that some may assume are for fashion reasons. Instead, however, these are compression socks. Whenever athletes want to train or perform their best on race day, they need to prevent or nurse injuries, reduce soreness, etc.
Below is a plethora of information to help you when it’s time to purchase your very own pair of these. Not only do you get a look at the five best running compression socks in the UK, but you also learn about their utility, and what you need to think about when buying them.
What Are Running Compression Socks?
Running compression socks are elastic socks that runners often wear, most notably seen coming up to the knee. While many designs are closed as normal socks are, you may also see some runners sporting a design that begins at the ankle, which is most often known as a sleeve.
When worn, beyond stretching all the way up, these socks are meant to be strong, squeezing around the calf and shin, compressing the legs veins, muscles, and arteries. They’re often used by athletes who want to enjoy consistent performance through injury mitigation. Alternatively, those who are already injured and may want to manage those injuries are also huge users of running compression socks.
These socks are available in both men’s and women-specific designs and are incredibly comfortable. Much of this comes from the design choice to implement a luxe, merino-wool blend. They fall under the category of firm compression socks, coming in at 20-30 mmHg. It’s a pretty lightweight design that you should have no issues getting into.
- 20-30 mmHg
- M/L and XL sizes are available
- Maximum calf size of 16 ½ inches
- Made of 31% merino wool, 8% spandex, 30% nylon, and 31% rayon from bamboo
- Multiple design styles are available
- Better fit than most socks at a similar price range
- Doesn’t bunch up under the knee
- Conducive to air drying
- A bit difficult to pull on
- Limited sizes available
This design from COMPRESSPORT is just about as sporty as compression socks can look. They’re designed with an ergonomic feel aimed at reducing injury potential by eliminating friction. There is a lightweight compression bandage around the arch of your foot, which is aimed at preventing slipping in the shoes. Beyond the compression offered, the sock is also conducive to ventilation.
- Made of 94% polyamide and 6% elastane
- Available in T1, T2, T3, and T4 sizes
- 360-degree arch support
- Shock absorber
- Moisture extraction
- Highly ventilated
- Looks great
- Left and right foot designed differently and optimally
- Not the most durable
- Design choices are limited
Zensah, which also produces high-quality performance face masks, is responsible for these Italian-made full-length compression socks. With its high elastane content, it means that you don’t have to worry about the socks stretching out over time and not compressing well. This typically means that you can use these for long, endurance-type runs. Additionally, the socks happen to be incredibly supportive.
- Available in S, M, L, and XL sizes
- Made of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane
- Graduated compression
- Thermal regulation
- Arch supporting elastic band
- Typically true to size
- The seamless design is also anti-irritation
- Highly supportive
- Moisture reducing
- A little on the expensive style
One of the most outstanding things about these socks is their high utility. While runners often use them as you’d expect, those who are otherwise active or even pregnant often wear them for relief and support. The lack of bulk makes them an excellent choice since they go with both athletic and work shoes incredibly well. Note that the compression socks are paired with a low-cut set.
- 12-20 mmHg
- Drystat silver infusion for bacteria protection
- Dedicated arch and ligament support
- Made of 70% silver drystat, 20% elastane, and 10% polyamide
- Graduated compression
- Highly supportive
- Inclusion of a low-cut pair means great value for money
- Quite ventilated
- Four-way stretch material
- Not true to size
- Design choices are limited
Physix Gear designed an overall well-performing sock here. They offer high value, durability, performance, and overall quality. A big part of this comes from the selection of a highly breathable and durable fabric selection. This allows them to be worn all day, allowing runners and even casual users to reduce swelling and mitigate fatigue.
- 20-30 mmHg
- Available in S/M, L/XL, and XXL sizes
- Running optimized
- Effective at reducing fatigue
- Keeps feet blister-free
- Comfortable to area
- No skin pinching in the cuffs
- Numerous colour choices
- No extra arch compression
Why Use Running Compression Socks?
As the name implies, compression socks compress the blood vessels in the lower legs, ensuring that blood, as well as other fluids, don’t pool in your body’s lower half. Maintaining blood flow is essential if you want to maintain a pain-free running existence without having to worry about swelling and discomfort.
You find that most reputable sock brands go for a graduated compression design, which means that it is strongest at your uncle and gradually eases up as it goes up the leg. Without blood and fluid buildup happening, it means that there is better oxygen circulation to your tissues and muscles, meaning you are likely to see improved performance.
Additionally, the more lactic acid your body produces, the more likely you are to experience soreness in the not-so-distant future. While your running compression socks are not going to prevent your body from producing lactic acid, they do help tremendously with reducing the typical onset soreness.
Types of Running Compression Socks
As the name implies, odour repellent compression socks are built to help reduce less than desirable smells that are often generated when they are worn. This feature is well placed in compression sock designs that are targeted at endurance runners who are likely to be wearing their socks a bit longer.
Often, the odour repellent variations also happen to be waterproof. While there are several reasons for odours, unwanted moisture happens to be one of the top ones. However, waterproof running compression socks are geared towards more than preventing bad smells. A wet running compression sock is a more uncomfortable one.
Therefore, these designs, often called moisture-wicking compression socks, aim to retain their state of dryness through their design. You often find that they are also quick drying when washed.
Open-toe compression socks are just that. Instead of enclosing the toes as they do the calves and shins, the toes are left out. Depending on the design, these are often called sleeves. They tend to be conducive to accommodating those with problems that may lead to toe discomfort or those who are running in warm weather.
Some compression socks are designed with non-slip soles. While these don’t do much to enhance the training or performance experience, they are great for people who wear their socks around the house after they finished running. The idea is to provide grip on the typical floors in our house.
How to Choose Running Compression Socks – Buyer’s Guide
Choosing the right compression sock is fundamental to getting the best result possible. First, you want to pay attention to the pressure rating, which should correspond to how you’re going to use the socks. The millimetres of mercury or mmHg rating indicates the level of pressure to help with circulation. The 10-20 variation is typically suitable for those needing moderate pressure, while up to 40 mmHg is better for surgery recoverees.
Pay attention to the feet as well, as you want your compression socks to be tight, but not so much so that they are uncomfortable. On the matter of comfort, you want a blend of pressure and support, which may mean adequate padding, moisture-wicking fabric, etc.
What Level of Compression Socks Do I Need?
Think about your use case where running compression socks are concerned to make a decision here. Moderate compression falls between the 10 and 25 mmHg line. There is research to indicate that around 20 mmHg is the sweet spot for moderate users.
You may find that you need to go beyond the moderate level if you’ve had surgery and are recovering since your compression requirements would be higher.
How Long Should I Wear Compression Socks After Running?
Wearing your compression socks for ankle support about six to eight hours after running is ideal, as doing so helps to prevent swelling and pain. For long endurance runs such as those associated with marathons, up to 12 hours is recommended.
How Do I Know I Need Running Compression Socks?
Some people need compression socks more than others, including those who may have done surgical operations. Medical professionals tend to recommend these socks for those who have swelling in the legs, need assistance with circulation, require improved lymphatic drainage, or may need to manage orthostatic hypotension.