You might have seen people wearing compression socks or sleeves running races or the streets. Having seen them on home medical supplies online, you might have thought to yourself, “Does it really work?” Or “I wonder if that would help with a shin splint or contraction of the calf muscles.”
Around this time, the cross-country season begins, and as fall and half marathons approach, many questions are asked about the pressure. People often want to know how it works and whether it suits their condition.
Let’s understand how compression socks and sleeves work
The heart moves the limbs and muscles through the oxygen-containing blood vessels. When cells use oxygen and other nutrients from the blood, deoxygenated blood, lactic acid, and other waste products enter the veins and return to the heart. When the blood returns to the heart, oxygen is supplied from the lungs and the process is repeated.
During exercise, your body produces lactic acid as waste. If lactic acid is not removed from the muscles, it may contribute to pain and decreased performance. Another factor in poor performance is muscle fatigue. Muscle vibrations during physical activity contribute to fatigue. As you run, think about the number of shocks and vibrations that would occur through your leg muscles if you hit the sidewalk with a weight of 3-5 times. Over time, small vibrations are added to the muscles, leading to fatigue.
Let’s talk about compression socks and sleeves that help your body. Socks and sleeves provide graduated compression. This means that as you move your legs and feet up, the pressure is higher (tense) and lower (flaccid) in your feet and ankles. This type of pressure fights the effects of gravity and helps the body return to the veins (deoxygenated blood flows back to the heart).
Recent studies have shown that with an optimal level of consistent compression, artery walls dilate, increasing blood flow through the vessels. Arterial blood flow has been shown to increase by up to 40% during activity and 30% during recovery. This means more oxygen and nutrients flow through your body! On the other hand, the walls of the veins contract when pressed, which helps speed up blood flow through the vessels. Increasing the rate of blood flow through the veins helps deoxygenated blood and lactic acid return to the heart faster, which speeds up recovery and reduces muscle pain! Compression also helps stabilize muscles and reduce fatigue by reducing the amount of muscle vibrations.
So, are socks or compression sleeves good for leg splints, calf cramps, and Achilles tendinitis?
The answer is yes. However, if the only measure you take to help the injury is to wear compresses, then no condition will be cured. All injuries must be evaluated so the true cause can be resolved. Pressure can help you feel better while recovering, overcoming your last long run before a marathon, or preventing new injuries. Proper comfort, massage, stretching/strengthening, footwear and training must be taken into consideration when dealing with injuries under the legs.
Also, the increased blood flow will improve your abilities and reduce muscle fatigue.
Should I wear socks or sleeves?
Socks and sleeves are amongst most benefitting online medical products. If the injury is related to the arch, ankle or Achilles tendon, we recommend wearing socks to cover the injury area. If the injury is higher, the sleeves are fine. Another factor to consider is the type of socks you want to wear. If you have your favourite running socks that you can’t run without running socks then the sleeves are better because you can wear your favourite socks.
Socks should be worn to use compression products to recover. Remember the effects of gradual compression and gravity we talked about? You don’t want your feet and ankles to swell greatly because blood cannot pass through the narrowing of the lower portion of the pressure sleeve. With socks on, the gradual compression helps keep your feet and ankles in good condition.
Don’t forget to wear a compressor while running a race or going on a business trip. Sitting in a plane or car for long periods of time can disrupt blood flow in your legs. Get them from home medical supplies online. When you press your legs to return blood to the heart, veins help!
If you are trying to relieve the symptoms of a shin splint or calf pain, or if you are looking to beat the competition by recovering faster, compression can help!