In recent years, as high profile professional athletes started to use compression socks and other compression wear, we have also started to pay more attention to compression socks. But other than a fashion statement, what is the functionality of compression socks? Why would professional athletes in basketball, volleyball, soccer, skiing, and running wear compression socks?
The 5 benefits of wearing compression socks for sports:
1. Reduce Muscle Soreness
Compression socks increase muscle proprioception and reduce muscle oscillation (3), therefore reduce muscle damage. In multiple studies, compression socks displayed reduced perception of muscle soreness in 10K run, 15.6K mountain trail, second soccer match, 24 hours post 5K time trial.
2. Improve Time to Exhaustion (Endurance)
In a 2016 peer-reviewed journal (1), runners in various running events from 800-meter to marathon improve variables related to endurance (time to exhaustion). The proposed mechanism of action of Compression socks includes, improved running economy, biomechanics variables, perception, and muscle temperature.
3. Reduce Muscle Damage and Inflammation Post Exercise
Compression tights enhances muscle recovery (5). The possible mechanism includes: enhanced circulation, blood lactate removal, improved body temperature, and reduced muscle vibration (5). Studies also suggested delay the removal of compression wear post training and sporting events to enhance the effect of recovery.
4. Enhance Performance
Although there are contradicting conclusions regarding enhancement of sports performance with wearing compression socks, there are evidence in enhance performance in alpine skiing (2), long distance running (3), amateur cycling (4) with compression socks. The exact mechanism of how compression socks enhance sports performance is still uncertain, but the proposed mechanism includes, compression socks increases oxygen delivery during exercise, reduce muscle oscillation, and athlete belief. (3)
5. Reduce Sports Injuries
In a cross section study involving 512 athletes, the primary reason for using compression socks is prevention of secondary sports injury and reduction of symptoms of current sports injury. Secondary reason for use of compression socks is post-exercise recovery. (6) This study also indicated, athletes always wearing compression socks during training and competition are associated with significantly lower prevalence of lower extremity sports injuries (6).
Compression socks and other compression wear provides help in various ways during sports. Compression socks and compression wear reduce muscle soreness, improve endurance, reduce Muscle Damage and Inflammation Post Exercise, enhance performance, and reduce sports injuries. We recommend athletes can use compression socks during training to get use to the feeling of compression socks before using compression socks during competitions. In addition, we also recommend delay the removal of compression socks after exercise to enhance the recovery effect.
If you have any questions regarding compression socks and compression wear, please call us at
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Engel FA, Homberg HC, Sperlich B. Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing? Sports Med. 2016 Dec; 46(12):1939-1952.
Sperlich B, Born DP, Swaren M, Kilian Y, et al. Is leg compression beneficial for alpine skiers? BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2013 Sep 2; 5(1):18.
Brophy-Wiliams N, Driller MW, Kitic CM, Fell JW, Halson SL. Wearing compression socks during exercise aids subsequent performance. J Sci Med Sport. 2019 Jan; 22(1):123-127.
Arriel RA, de Souza HL, Mota GR, Marocolo M. Declines in exercise performance are prevented 24 hours after post-exercise ischemic conditioning in amateur cyclists. PLoS One. 2018; 13(11):e0207053.
Hettchen M, Glockler K, Stengel S, Piechele A, Lotzerich H, Kohl M, Kemmler W. Effects of Compression Tights on Recovery Parameters After Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Ramdonmized Controlled Crossover Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019; 2019:5698460
Franke T, Backx FJG, Huisstede BMA, Lower extremity compression garments use by athletes: why, how often, and perceived benefit. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 13(2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-020-00230-8