In recent years compression socks have become more and more fashionable. The running community has been at the forefront of this revolution. Compression socks are effective for enhancing athletic performance as well as speeding up recovery. Let’s look at which models are the best running compression socks for men and women in 2017.
The Physix Gear Sport Compression socks are the best compression socks for runners. They have everything that the best running compression socks need to have.
These socks are made of nylon and quality, stretchable lycra material. These socks are breathable, which lets the sweat evaporate from your skin and keeps your legs dry during workouts. The fabric has antibacterial and anti-fungi qualities.
The socks have a double stitched heel design, which lowers the vibrations going through your legs when you step on the ground during your run. This is a huge plus when it comes to preventing and treating shin splints.
The socks have a single toe design, which hold your toes tightly but don’t compress them too much.
The Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks put between 20-30 mm Hg graduated compression on your legs. This is the ideal amount to promote blood flow while sitting, running or sleeping. This way you will not only have lower heart rate while running, the training load on your muscles will decrease, and they will recover quicker.
It is clear how much the company believes in their product. The Physix Gear Sport Compression socks come with a lifetime money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your product, they will refund your money, no questions asked.
Running compression socks have certainly grew in popularity among athletes, so much so that people trying out for the Olympics are using compression socks. However there are still people who claim that compression socks give you no real competitive edge. In my opinion if they only worked as a placebo, then they would not be used by so many serious athletes. At the very least they do not hurt your performance. On the other hand if they probably don’t give you a huge edge, in that case everybody would be using them. As with most things in life, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Whenever I have to decide if something is good for my body or not, I prefer to look at what the science says instead of anecdotal evidence and stories. Let’s see what scientists can tell us about the effectiveness of compression socks.
Initially compression garments were used to treat venous diseases. The two most common were pregnancy swelling and lymphedema. In the first one the higher blood pressure caused by the featus results in the mother’s legs swelling up. In the case of lymphedema, the body’s lymp drains don’t do their jobs properly, which resutls in the limbs swelling up like balloons.
Throughout the years their positive effects were used to treat more and more diseases. Diseases related to a sitting lifestyle, such as varicose veins and spider veins. Air travellers also started to use them to lower the chances of suffering deep vein thrombosis.
The most popular compression socks in 2017 are graduated models. Graduated compression socks help the circulatory system by putting more pressure on the ankles than on the higher parts of the legs. This difference in pressure causes the blood to flow quicker towards the heart. This way the valves inside the veins don’t have to work as hard to prevent the blood from flowing back down or pooling up in the veins – a major cause of varicose veins.
Soon runners started to take notice, especially endurance, long distance runners. With their interest, exercise researcher started to look into whether the best running compression socks could really enhance performance, or runners were just experiencing a placebo effect.
First, let’s separate two different areas where the best running compression socks might have a positive effect on one’s life. During competition, and after competition – recovery. The first one requires that the compression socks cause a more effective movement pattern, less energy uptake, or a peak in performance that immediately correlates with better racing times. The second part states that with the positives of compression socks, one can rejuvenate their muscles, and get back to peak physical condition quicker.
There are multiple theories behind why compression socks work.
This theory states that due to the better blood circulation in the lower limbs, the muscles are getting nutrients and oxygen quicker, which in turn leads to better performance. Continuing on the same logic, more waste materials -such as lactic acid – can be washed out of the muscles, leading to better performance.
When you run and your foot hits the ground, vibrations go through from the point of impact through your muscles, tendons and joint until they are absorbed. As the theory goes, these vibrations cause ruptures and put stress on the muscles, which can be one of the reasons behind the delayed muscle soreness we experience.
The most compelling evidence for the claim that the reduction in muscle vibration actually helps performance significantly was provided by the long jumping and hurdle jumping community. These athletes regularly wear compression pants. Kraemer et al. proved in a study that these products decrease muscle vibrations. This in turn leads to better muscle control, and increased proprioception.
After warming up, a constant problem for athletes is that the msucles might cool down between the warm up and the actual competitive period. In an environment where every little edge counts, cooling down just a little bit can decide between finishing in first place, or not even making the top three. The best running compression socks do an excellent job of keeping the leg muscles warm, and not letting them cool down.
Now that we know all the theories behind why the best running compression socks might increase performance and help with recovery, let’s go through all the research.
The research literature could not provide an overwhelming evidence to why compression socks increase performance in runners, but there are encouraging signs out there. Ali et al did a study in 2007, and found the socks could not account for any performance enhancement, or change in physiological parameters. However after the run the runners experienced significantly lower muscle soreness, which was a result of the reduction in muscle vibrations.
On the other hand in a 2009 study Kremmier found that the lactate threshold of athletes improved when wearing compression socks while running. Other studies found that the energy consumption and running economy decreased as a result of wearing the best running compression socks, as well as improved performence over a 5 kilometer race. A study by Bringard (2006) found improved running economy, especially in the middle speed ranges.
On the question of whether compression socks improved lactate clearance, Berry et al provided the most comprehensive study thirty years ago in 1987. The study demonstrated that blood lactate clearance improved after exercise.
The study however requires a bit of a side note. First of all, it measured the lactate levels in the blood, and not in the muscles. The latter causes muscle soreness. It is possible that the decrease in blood lactate was down to the compression preventing lactate entering the blood stream from the muscles. The other possible explenation is that the lactate enters the blood stream, but it gets taken up by the other muscles in the body. It is hard to know which phenomena is at play exactly, but the results of the study are the same nevertheless.
On the recovery side, the studies have demonstrated clearly that compression garments help recovery. In a 2010 study by Byrne and Easton, they put graduated compression tights on people after plyometric exercise, which led to a decrease in muscle soreness, and better recovery. It is suspected that the combination of decreased muscle vibrations and the pushing out of the blood lactate is at play here. However scientists do not agree 100 % on what causes muscle soreness, so at the moment all we know is that the best runnig compression socks help with recovery, but the exact mechanisms are not clear.
As a sidenote to the results of these studies, it is important to realise that they were done with different types of compression socks. Some sstudies used uniform compression, some graduated compression.
The strength of compression differed also. It seems that there is a sweetspot in compression strength for increasing blood flow. Byrne in 2001 found that 20 mm Hg pressure at the ankles increased blood flow, while 30 mm Hg cut off the circulation.
It is clear that during competition even the best running compression socks are not game changers. If it was so, everybody would be using them. However during recovery they can help a lot.
Looking at the research, long distance endurance runners might benefit the most from compression socks. In long distance running muscle damage could interfere with muscle contraction, and limit the number of muscle fibers taking part in muscle contraction, which in turn limits performance. After the run the results are clear. Compression socks help recovery.
If you are an active runner yourself, you can find a lot of runners who talk about how compression socks helped their performance. Some claim that compression socks help even during Olympic trials. Others feel that they were able to cover more mileage than otherwise with the help of compression socks.
Basically there are two different types of compression technologies on the market, graduated and uniform. Graduated compression socks are the most popular, as they help blood flow the most. These products put the largest amount of pressure on the ankles, and the pressure slightly subsides as the socks get higher on the legs. The difference in pressure creates an ideal environment for the blood to flow up from the ankles towards the heart. The pressure is largest at the ankles, where the pull of the gravity is largest on the blood.
Uniform compression is used mostly for fighting swelling and edema. They can be dangerous if applied in the wrong situation, so they are available only with doctor’s prescription.
You might also find targeted running compression socks in stores. These products apply extra compression to a specific part of your legs. The most common are special plantar fasciitis socks, or the ones that apply extra pressure to your aching achilles tendons. The extra pressure is applied with tighter materials holding the leg firmer at the area where the extra compression is needed.
As I mentioned above, there is a sweetspot of compression strength for running socks, but there are still a lot of different types of running compression socks on the market. As studies found before, the best compression range for the best running compression socks was around 20 mm Hg around the ankles. This promoted the best blood flow during workouts.
Let’s take a look at what other levels of compression can you find in the best running compression socks.
First of all, the strength of compression is measured in millimetres of mercury – mm Hg. The larger this number is, the bigger pressure the garment puts on your legs.
10 – 15 mm Hg – This is the lightest compression range. It is called super light compression. This range provides good prevention against shin splints, plantar fasciitis or overworking. If you exercise lightly, or you don’t like feeling the super hard, super tight feeling larger compression puts on your legs, than these models might be just for you.
16 – 20 mm Hg – These are a band of lighter compression socks for running. The best compression socks for pregnant women who want to exercise during their pregnancy are found in this range.
21-30 mm Hg – The most common and best running compression socks for runners are found in this pressure range. They promote optimal blood flow for better athletic performance, and quicker recovery.
Over these pressure ranges there are no compression socks for runners. However there are other great compression socks over this range, but those are used in extreme cases of varicose veins, lymphedema and swelling.
If you don’t know which compression range would work best for you, it might be a great idea to consult with a medical professional. Another way would be to start with a cheaper model, and slowly work your way up from there.
Unfortunately choosing the best running compression socks is often overlooked by inexperienced runners. In my opinion they are as much, if not more important as wearing the right running shoes.
The famous story about John Wooden, the famous college basketball coach comes to mind. On the first day of preseason training, he used to sit down his rookie players, and show them how to properly put on their socks. As he said, unfitting socks cause blisters, blisters cause missed shots, missed shots mean lost games, which translates to lost trophies.
To go forward with this analogy, if you choose anything but the best running compression socks, you will feel uncomfortable as a result of chaffing, blisters and skin burn. If your socks are too tight, they will choke the life out of your legs. If they are too loose, they will not be able to put enough pressure on your muscles. Any of these factors will contribute to subpar training and running performance.
The most important part to finding the best running compression socks is the fabric. Runners often make the mistake of wearing regular socks for workouts, made of 100% cotton. Cotton does not let your skin breathe, and the sweat to evaporate, the fabric holds and absorbs moisture. This causes blisters. The best running compression socks are made of some combination of nylon, spandex and lycra. These materials help wick the sweat and moisture away from your skin during the workout, leading to more hygienic and dry workout conditions.
Choosing the correct size compression socks is a challenge for most people. A good trick is to try them on before purchase, but if you are getting one online, just check the size chart at the product description. These charts compare the sock size to the shoe size, so if you know your shoe size, you should be able to make a good decision.
Some size charts of the best running compression socks might mention few of the following measures:
There are two types of products based on toe design: single toe models and five toe models. Both can work, but they both have their drawbacks. The single toe models can cause serious skin damage if the seams are not well designed. For this reason I encourage you to choose models that are seamless.
With toe socks if the toes don’t fit perfectly, the material can get caught between them and cause chaffing and blisters. If you choose toe socks, make sure they are the perfect fit.
The best running compression socks can come with excellent extra padding. For example the Physix Gear Sport compression socks have double stitched heel paddings.
These paddings give extra protection to the areas of your feet which they cover. The most common areas are the heels, the plantar fascia, the achilles tendons and the toes.
The tendons are covered due to the extra padding, which helps in case your achilles tendons are aching. The extra padding and compression helps the blood flow to the tendon, which causes the inflammation to subside. The blood transports nutritions and T cells to the inflamed area.
If you choose running compression socks with extra padding, make sure they are attached with comfortable, good quality seams. If the seams are prone to tearing, or they cut into your skin they will cause skin burn and chaffing.
Based on where you want to run, you might want to consider wearing different length compression socks. If you run in rainy weather, or you are a fan of trail running through the forest with thick vegetation, you might want to consider wearing knee high socks. These protect your legs against the damage of plants, bushes and rocks. In rainy weather they keep your legs warm, but they allow them to dry up if possible through letting the water evaporate.
For runners there is nothing worse than getting an injury. It can lead to being absent from training and competition for a long time. For people who are hooked on the dopamine of exercising being absent from running can be a life altering problem.
For runners there are many ways to prevent injuries. Stretching, proper nutrition and leaving enough time for recovery can seriously lower the chances of suffering an injury.
Other things that can help treat and prevent running injuries are compression socks. As covered above, they reduce the muscle vibrations during your runs. Normally when you step on the ground your feet touching the ground produce vibrations that travel through your legs, and get absorbed by the bones, joints and muscles. These vibrations over time put a big strain on your legs, leading to injuries such as micro tears inside the muscle fibers, and the overuse of the joints.
Inflammation is a major cause of leg pain in competitive runners. The tendons tire due to overuse, and this produces a pinching, sharp pain inside the legs. Most often the achilles tendons and the bottom of the feet are suffer from inflammation. At the bottom of the feet, inflammation is also known as plantar fasciitis, or runner’s foot. The plantar fascia is a tissue running between the heel and the toes. A sure sign of plantar fasciitis is feeling pain in your foot when you step out of bed in the morning.
Compression socks can help not only treat, but prevent plantar fasciitis. On the prevention side, the better mood flow, and quicker recovery between workouts reduces the perceived extension of your feet. Once you suffer from inflammation, the best running compression socks increase blood flow to the problem areas. The inflamed areas receive more nutrition in less time, and the T cells responsible for ending inflammation can travel to the problem areas quicker.
You can wear the best running compression socks either during your workout, between workouts, in the office or in your sleep.
Shin splints are caused exactly by the heels hitting the pavement while running. Even standing and walking all day long can be a cause of shin splints. How can you know if you are experiencing shin splints? Do you have a throbbing pain in your shins? Does this pain keep you from exercising?
This is one of the most common injuries that occur to runners. It involves the shins aching, in the front of the legs. There are two different types of shin splints. The ones that occur on the inside of the legs are called medial shin splints. The ones occurring on the outside of the legs are called anterior shin splints.
The best way to prevent shin splints is build up your mileage first when you start running. If you put too much mileage on your legs too soon, then wearing compression socks can treat your legs.
The general public is not aware how dangerous DVT is. Deep vein thrombosis is when a blood cloth travels in the veins and gets caught – most likely – in one of the veins of the thigh muscles. If the cloth travels to the lungs or to the heart, it can be fatal.
After the day of a hard workout, runners are at an increased risk of suffering DVT. Combined with other risk factors, such as smoking, dehydration, diabetes, being overweight, taking birth control pills or injuries causing internal bleeding. It is essential that runners use the best running compression socks to keep blood flowing quickly and prevent DVT.
Unfortunately not many runners now how to recognise the symptoms of DVT. Swelling in the legs after a workout can be a sign of DVT. Other signs can be a sudden, but constant pinching pain in your calves. Unfortunately most runners mistake this pain for a muscle injury, and don’t go to a medical professional to get it checked out.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Physix Gear Sport are the best compression socks for runners.
These excellent graduated running compression socks are made of moisture wicking, antibacterial material that lets your skin breathe. The material makeup of the socks is 65% polyamide, 20% elasthan with 15% lycra. The socks put between 18-21 mm Hg graduated compression on your legs. They have a super comfortable fit, which ensures that you will enjoy all the positive effects of graduated compression. This product is machine washable below 40 °C. One of the best running compression socks on the market.
Excellent graduated athletic compression socks for recovery as well as performance. The product is on the larger side of compression, it puts between 20 and 30 mm Hg graduated compression on your legs. It is machine washable. The Go2 compression socks are easy to put on, and they hold your legs very tightly. They don’t have enough extra features for me to call them the best running compression socks, but they are good ones to keep as backup or rotation models.
These models provide graduated compression to reduce muscle fatigue, make you better competitors and help recover faster. It has a special Blitzu Kinesiology Taping Design, which pairs the effects of compression technology with the positive effects of kinesiology tapes. Excellent for marathon running, basketball, gym training and cycling. The kinesiology pads stay in place, but the fabric around them is stretchable, so it conforms to the shape and size of your legs. The product comes with a 100% money back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with it.
This product is made of a mixture of polyamide and elastane, a durable yet stretchable combination that lets your skin breathe during competition. These models are especially good at treating shin splints. They hold tight and stabilise the calf and shin area. The toes are seamless, which prevents chaffing and blisters. Excellent graduated compression for runners, basketball players and cyclists. The socks are knitted with an especially high, 200 needle count construction. This provides extra comfort and durability at the same time.
I hope this article gave you a good overview of which are the best running compression socks in 2017. The article contained short reviews of the best graduated running compression socks, as well as buying guides and tips on which one to choose. Do you have experience wearing compression socks for running? If so, share it in the comment section below!
The Physix Gear Sport compression socks are one of the highest rated, best compression socks based on Amazon reviews. They are one of the most durable atheltic compression socks with excellent design. The excellent material, comfort, and durability makes this product one of the best running compression socks on the market.
Upon looking at the socks, it is clear that they were designed with active people in mind. They have extra heel padding, which significantly reduces the impact of one’s steps while running. This way the joints have less resonance to absorb, they are under less stress. The material is very comfortable, soft and breathable, with antibacterial qualities.
Although they are comfortable, they hold the legs firmly. One can immediately feel the strength of the graduated compression on the limbs. They can be used during a run, or for recovery after the workout. They are excellent for both.
The Physix Gear Sport compression socks put between 20-30 mm Hg graduated pressure on your legs. As with all graduated models, the pressure is largest at your ankles, and it slightly subsides as the socks get higher on your feet.
This compression range makes the socks suitable for not only enhancing athletic performance or speeding up muscle recovery, but also treating shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and other running related injuries.
The exact makeup of the socks is 80% nylon and 20% spandex. This combination makes the socks machine washable, which is a significant help. Some socks are only able to be washed in lukewaearm water with your hands. This takes time away from more important things. Use the Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks and you will be able to spend more time with your family or working out.
The socks have breathable material. You will be able to work out and still have your feet dry. Your sweat will evaporate through the nylon, which is an important prerequisite to foot hygiene. On that note, the products come with silver lines woven into them, an excellent antibacterial quality. This prevents bacteria from growing, and fungi development.
The socks come in three different colour combinations, black and blue, black and pink, and black mixed with grey. The majority of the sock is black, apart from the heel area and the “Physix” tag on the elastic band below the knees. The sporty look of the socks is excellent and will make you the envy of other runners on the track. The Physix Gear Sport compression socks has an unisex design. Both women and men can wear them with style.
The heels of these socks are one of the thickest, yet most comfortable I have ever seen. The extra heel padding is attached to the rest of the socks with double stitching. This ensures durability. With low quality compression socks the stitches are the area where the socks come apart after repeated use. This is totally not the case with the Physix Gear Sports compression socks. In terms of durability, these are one of the best compression socks on the market. The socks didn’t loose their firmness as a result of repeated use and washing either.
Physix Gear Sport is so confident in the quality of their product that they offer a lifetime satisfaction money back guarantee. If you try on your new socks, and they are not what you imagined, or you have a subpar experience, they will give you back your money no questions asked. Not many companies have such a great customer service policy. This is a testament not only to the company, but the quality of Physix Gear Sports Graduated Compression socks too.
The Physix Gear Sport compression socks were one of the best running compression socks reviewed. Their design is flawless. Wearing them feels comfortable, but they appear to be firm. They are breathable, and the extra soft heel pads are a joy to step on. All these positive attributes combined with the lifetime satisfaction money back guarantee makes this product an excellent choice if you are looking for a pair of running compression socks.
Many badminton players experience the toll this intense sport takes on their body. Aching legs, creaky knees, and muscle injuries are common among the players of this great sports. In recent years more and more players can be seen wearing sleeves or long socks on their legs. Many have been wondering what purpose these badminton compression socks and sleeves are supposed to serve.
Badminton compression sleeves are excellent for making sure the leg muscles get a steady supply of oxygenated blood during competition. After the competition they can help the muscles regenerate quicker. They can play a big role in ending inflammation, and healing soft tissue injuries. However their role in preventing injuries should not be overlooked either.
This short video touches on many points made in this article:
The circulatory system has many roles in the body. One of the most important, is to supply the cells with oxygen and nutrients. During a badminton game your leg muscles need a steady supply of oxygen to keep up the hard work. This is only possible, if the valves work properly. Tight valves let the blood flow really fast up towards the heart. The heart then pumps the blood through the lungs and the stomach, where the blood gets full of oxygen and nutrients. This blood then goes to the muscles.
The whole system has to work efficiently, and effectively. If only one part doesn’t do its job, the whole circulatory system will suffer. If the veins are too wide, the blood will flow slower in them. In some cases the walls of the veins might be so loose, that the blood just stops, and pools up inside them.
Compression technology was invented in large part to treat this condition. By putting pressure on the limbs, they press the veins together. This leads to quicker blood flow, and the muscles getting lot more nutrition.
This ties together nicely with the second use these products have for badminton players:
After the competition the lactic acid inside the muscles lead to a uncomfortable, sore feeling. The muscles feel tense, until the lactic acid is washed out of the muscles the athlete is not ready to play to her full potential again.
By putting pressure on the limbs and compressing the veins together, these products help the blood circulate through the muscles much quicker. This way the lactic acid gets washed out of the muscles a lot sooner. This recovery method has gained a lot of coverage in recent years, and has become widespread among athletes competing in sports that require anaerobe energy systems.
During badminton, you have to make frequent, sharp and quick changes of direction. You hit one, then try to position yourself, anticipating where you will hit next. Since you have to make a lot of adjustments in your positioning, you makes many sudden changes of speed, instead of working at one constant speed. During such movements the muscles are required to work in an oxygen poor environment. This leads to lactic acid buildup inside the muscles.
Most badminton players put up compression garments during the night after their competition. Spending these hours in compression leggings or compression socks cuts down the recovery period significantly, and lets the athlete work at their full potential a lot sooner.
Other than helping the muscles get a better supply of nutrients and oxygen, the compression garments have another benefit during a badminton game. They reduce the risk of injuries.
Most muscle injuries happen as a result of muscle fatigue. If the muscles are well rested, they can correct the position of the body and the limbs even if you fall down or take an awkward step. However if the muscles are fatigued, their reaction time gets longer. By the time the muscles start correcting your position, you will be in such an awkward position that there will be nothing for you to do.
Compression sleeves are made of extremely durable, yet tight materials. Most models have a large percentage of spandex, which lets you move freely, but keeps your limbs in a confined space. This way even if you step awkwardly, the compression garment will not let the limb get injured.
This is one of the reason, I recommend compression socks instead of compression sleeves if you have a history of twisted ankles. Socks cover your feet, and your ankles. Sleeves start above your ankles, and end under your knees.
The problem with wearing socks can be the tightness of your shoes. You need to wear regular socks over the compression models, and if your shoes are too tight, they will crush your feet, or not get on them. In extreme cases this problem with fits can lead to blisters or skin burns.
It is a must that the model you buy has some copper or silver content. These materials act as antibacterial and anti fungi bodies. The sweaty feet are extremely vulnerable to bacterial and fungi infections. These materials keep the socks and your feet hygienic.
It is just as important that your feet stay as dry as possible. This can be done by choosing sleeves that let your skin breathe. This way the sweat will naturally evaporate off your skin.
Fashion is a big part of how an athlete puts together her wardrobe. This is why compression products are made in a seemingly infinite different colours and designs. No matter what colour your shoes are, what type of badminton dress you wear, you will find the compression garment that will make you look fashionable and awesome on the court.
In order to prevent rashes, burns, chaffing and blister it is imperative that you choose a product that has a seamless design. The socks and sleeves move on your leg just enough that if the seams are constructed poorly, they will lead to bad injuries.
If you feel frequent pain in your knees during or after playing badminton, is it likely that the impact of your steps not he ground has a severe effect on your knees. As you step or jump and put down your feet, the impact of landing on the ground gets absorbed by your legs. This can lead to knee pain. Socks that have a cushioned sole and padded heel are advised for such badminton players. This extra padding on the bottom of the feet helps absorb the impact of your steps. One of the best models for badminton players are the Acel Designer Compression Socks.
Most models you will find in online stores are graduated models. They put the largest pressure on the ankle area, then the pressure gets lower as the product gets higher on the legs. This way the pressure on the veins is the largest where the pull of gravity is the largest on the blood – the ankles. This design has the best results when it comes to enhancing athletic performance, reducing the risk of injuries or speeding up recovery.
The strength of compression is measured in mm Hg – millimetres of mercury. The higher the number, the more pressure the compression product puts on your skin.
Most products advised for badminton players are somewhere between the 15 – 25 mm Hg range. From 15 to 20 mm Hg is considered a low compression product. They are best when it comes to preventing muscle soreness or other problems. When you already had a long history of muscle soreness and injuries, or you feel your body doesn’t regenerate as quickly as it used to, it might be best to crank up the pressure and use a product with 20 to 25 mm Hg pressure. Out of these higher compression models, I recommend the Run Forever Sport Calf Compression sleeves. They are extremely comfortable, with a special design that lets your legs breathe, while applying up to 25 mm Hg graduated compression on your legs.
No matter what kind of model you choose in the end, wearing compression socks for badminton will enhance your performance on the court, and help you recover a lot quicker off it. You can only win by investing in a pair of great quality socks or sleeves.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!