How to be better by wearing the best basketball compression socks?

Allen Iverson made NBA history when he took the court by storm wearing a long, white hosiery on his right arm, and scored 51 points on the 21st of January in 2001. Many wondered at the time if this was an eccentric fashion choice from the charismatic player, or it had some medical implications too. It turns out that Iverson was suffering from muscle swell on his arm, and one of his coaches recommended that he wore compression hosiery on the problem area. That night a new fashion trend was born among basketball aficionados. (You can read more about the story here.)

Since then such clothing items have become the norm among basketball players, and one can see many athletes wearing them when tuning in to an NBA game. Let’s look at what are the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the best pair of basketball compression socks.

The science

Why did compression items become normal in basketball? Studies show that by increasing blood flow to the muscles, these items help muscle work during competition, and speed up the recovery process after workouts. The total number of benefits include:

Better blood flow: The walls of the arteries dilate, which increases blood flow to the muscles as much as 40%.

Quicker recovery: Veins become tighter, which lets the valves work more efficiently, which in turn leads to quicker blood circulation. Lactic acid is washed out of the muscles faster after competition.

Reduced number of injuries: The compression garments provide support to the muscles and tendons. Muscles have to produce movements in a more economic fashion.  Muscle vibrations are also reduced.

I am convinced that you have to put as much care into choosing your socks as you put into choosing the right pair of shoes. If you choose the right model, you will significantly reduce the risk of blisters, toenail issues, skin burns, fungi and bacterial infections. The socks are on your feet all the time, and your feet are a crucial instrument for your success or failure on the basketball court. The right socks must feel comfortable during sprints, cuts, jumps and other difficult maneuvers requiring agility.

The height of the socks

The are three different  models when it comes to basketball compression socks: ankle, knee high and thigh high models. Ankle ones start at the toes, and end right above your ankles. These are not going to be visible for an outside spectator, but they can give important support to the tendons, valves and arteries in your feet, .

Knee high socks end right above your calf, below the knee joints. These models are the most popular, since calves tend to be overworked during heated basketball encounters. This muscle group requires extra support and care. All my favourite models are from this group.

Socks that go over your knees are not recommended for basketball. Even though these apply pressure on the thighs also, they can fall down during competition since the movement of the knees makes it hard for them to stay tight to the skin. However these models can be great for post-competition recovery, especially if you frequently feel soreness in your thighs.

Compression leggings can be even better for regeneration. If you frequently experience pain in the naval area, these will be perfect for you. You can wear them during your sleep, and you will wake up as a new person. However if you don’t have problems with the muscles above your knees, I recommend that you use only compression socks. Getting leggings up can be a real problem, not to mention how difficult it can be to take them of when you have to go to the toilet. You can read a comprehensive guide about leggings here.

Compression sleeves  have been gaining popularity recently. They start at the ankles, so they don’t put any pressure on the feet. They end right below the knees, with an elastic band keeping them up. They are also great products, you can check out a longer article and guide to them here.

The thickness of the socks

Intermittent sports – like basketball – require you to wear thicker socks. These sports involve cutting, sprints, jumps, all motions that put a significant strain on the muscles and the tendons.

There are a lot of models that have added padding in one area or another. These paddings can provide support and mitigate the impact of landing and sudden movements. The following types of support are found in most of the models on the market:

  • Extra toe protection: Prevents blisters and mitigates the force of impact.
  • Extra arch support: Pain reducing arch support to add balance and provide a solid foundation during the match.
  • Soft foot padding: Ensures impact absorption at the foot, the heels and the toes.
  • Added ankle stability: Provides stability and structure to the tendons to prevent injuries and fatigue.
  • Achilles tendon support: Gives structure and consoles the aching tendon.

The padding on the heels and the balls of the feet are especially important if you are not a young gun anymore. As a player ages, the fat on the bottom of the feet becomes thinner, thus extra layers are needed on the socks to absorb the impact of landing.

Style and colour

There are virtually an endless number of different styles of on the market. Most products can be purchased in a number of colours. No matter what your personal favourite is, or what colours your team plays in, finding the best one for you can not be a problem.

The material

Most socks are made of nylon, with a mix of spandex, cotton or silk added to them. The exact material makeup of the product is not important, but it is crucial that you choose one with moisture wicking technology. These will let the sweat evaporate from your skin quickly. Anti-odor and anti-bacterial abilities are also a must. These ones keep the unwanted smells at bay, while preventing bacterial and fungi development.

Choose socks that fit perfectly

There is a story about John Wooden and how he used to start pre-season training by explaining to his new recruits how to put on their socks and how to tie their shoes. His thinking process was that badly fitting socks cause blisters, blisters cause uncomfort, which leads to missed shots, which leads to lost games.

The moral of the story is that if you wear socks that don’t fit your life will be a misery. Too big socks will sag, causing discomfort and blisters. A good rule of thumb is that in the arch, toe and heel areas the socks should feel tight on the skin, but not so tight that they stretch. Sagging or hanging on any part of the foot is forbidden.

There are many different vendors producing basketball compression socks. Each one has their own size chart. If you look for these items on Amazon, the charts on the product description pages will reveal exactly which size you need.

Added benefits for streetball

If you play on the streets there are some added benefits to wearing compression garments. These are UV protection, heat control, and cleanness.

UV protection is crucial if you spend long hours out on the court. This can prevent skin complications and other issues caused by lengthy exposure to sunlight.

Heat control is another crucial feature. Most models nowadays are made of materials that keep your legs cool during the summer, while during the winter the thickness of the material keeps your skin warm.

If you wear compression garments, all the dirt that would otherwise collect on your skin will get caught up on the clothing item.

An extra tip

If you play basketball several times a week, I suggest you buy more than one pair of socks. Usually you will want to wash your pair after each workout, but time constraints might prevent this. Not to mention that this would not be the most efficient method to go about having fresh socks for each time you enter the court. As a rule of thumb if you practice three time a week, I would buy at least two pairs. For more workouts I suggest having three pairs.

With this in mind, let’s look at a few compression socks perfect for playing basketball.

FITSHIT Premium Socks: Graduated Stockings For Men & Women

Even though this product is marketed as a premium sock, it can be gotten for a very reasonable price. They are clinically proven to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. The socks have moisture wicking and anti-bacterial features. They will keep your legs dry and door-free. There are supporting pads on the balls of the feet and the heels, the ankles. There is also a little bit of support at the achilles tendon.

Vitalsox VT1211 Graduated Compression Socks

This product is available in twelve different colours, and was made of 70 % Silver Drystat, 10 % Spandex, 10% Lycra and 10% Nylon. This combination of materials provides anti-bacterial and anti-odor moisture wicking possibilities for the socks. Its medium strength graduated compression provides just enough pressure and gives maximum boost to the circulatory system. This one is a high quality product with Vitalsox having almost twenty years of experience in making compression products.

Physix Gear Sport socks for men and women

These socks offer true graduated compression, with high quality, anti-bacterial moisture wicking materials. The product is very durable thanks to its double stitching seams. It helps prevent blood cloths from forming and can provide an effective treatment method for varicose and spider veins on top of the usual blood circulation benefits of graduated compression. The socks come with extra support at the heels, the arch of the foot and the toes.

Graduated Compression Socks by DANISH ENDURANCE

These socks are made of a mix of polyamide, elasthan and lycra. The products are made in the EU, which ensures the highest quality materials, and high quality knitting technology. The products provide 16-21 mm Hg pressure with graduated compression from the ankles up to the top of the calf. The product provides all the benefits one would want from a pair of top socks. The padded footbed removes moisture and adds extra cushioning to reduce the force of impact.

Blitzu Compression Socks

These products have a unique design that combines the stability of kinesiology taping with the benefits of compression materials. This taping technology gives added support to the feet, the heels, the arch, ankles and the calves. The product is made of the company’s trademarked Power+ Premium Performance Fabric. This material combined with the superior grade circular knit structure delivers 360 degree stretch for greater flexibility and durability. The company offers a 100 % satisfaction guarantee. In case you don’t like the product, they will refund your money no questions asked.

High Fit Pro Compression Socks with TRIANGLE of SUPPORT

This product offers extra strong compression with anti-odor and moisture wicking material. The company offers a lifetime 100% money back guarantee. There is added ankle support with the socks, while the toes are protected with extra padding.

Vitalsox VT1211 Graduated Compression with DryStat

This product has one of the most advanced makeups of all the socks on the market. It has a footbed that adds extra cushioning to the bottom of your feet. The graduated compression of the socks puts 12-20 mm Hg pressure on the legs, and slowly reduces towards the knees. A smooth toe seam protects the toes during a workout. A special arch support is included to reduce plantar fasciitis. An ankle protector reduces friction and pressure. The material is a mixture of Drystat, lycra and nylon. This combination is an exclusive mix used by only Vitalsox, which is designed to remove moisture, and prevent bacterial and fungi development. There is a thin mesh stripe running down the side of the socks to increase ventilation and provide superior wicking.

What qualities are you looking for in the best basketball compression socks? Leave a comment below!

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