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Compression Socks: Fashion or Function?

Compression socks, once the domain of diabetics and frequent flyers, have slowly trickled their way into endurance sports. We have seen Paula Radcliffe wear them for the last few years; long white knee high socks – quite a fashion statement. Having used CW-X products for almost 4 years now, I really believe in the benefit of compression technology. Just before I left for France for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), Team RF member Bill Logie gave me a pair of calf compression sleeves. Having been in France racing the previous month, he told me everybody was wearing them. At worst, I figured I could wear them on the flight there along with my CW-X pro shorts under my jeans. I wore them for the flight overseas and my calves and legs felt pretty good, all things considered.

Sugoi's Knee High R & R Compression SockWhile in Chamonix, I tested them on some non strenuous training runs. They didn’t seem to bother me so I decided that I would wear them for my race. I know you are not supposed to try anything new in a big race but with 31,000ft of climbing, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Like CW-X tights, compression socks or sleeves are designed to compress the muscle to reduce muscle vibration. This reduces muscle fatigue, cramping and more evenly distributes muscle strain.

The socks use a graduated pressure that is heavier near the foot and reduces pressure towards the knee, which aids blood flow back to the heart. The idea is to let fresh oxygen rich blood return more efficiently to the legs and feet. In Kona this year, 25% of the racers wore them and at the UTMB this year, I would have to say over 40% did.

After 42 hours and 31000 ft of climbing through 3 countries, I was completely sold on them. (No matter what they look like) It was the only clothing that I didn’t take off during the race. Usually near the end of a mountain ultra, my calves are usually toast. After using the compression sleeves, I was amazed that I didn’t cramp once. This weekend I tried the new Sugoi R & R Knee High versions and although not as snug as other brands, I found them to be very effective while skate skiing and my legs felt great even after 8 months of no skiing.

Give them a shot this winter – No one has to know since you can hide them under your tights for the next couple of months and unveil them this spring.

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10 comments

  • Ahmen. they are great. Used them at IMFLA this year, and I had none of the normal swelling after the race. Also, they helped support my achilles, in which I have been suffering from tendonitis.

  • Great to hear about the compression technology, but is there a difference in the amount of compression we need for XC skiing compared to running? And if so, which brands do we need for each that provides that adequae compression for each sport? Thanks, Mike

  • The compression sock was designed for running not xc skiing. At the begining of the ski season I find my tibialis anterior muscle seems to fatigue quicker. The compession seems to help that. I have used the Sugoi sock for running also and have tried two other brands not available in North America.

  • I got a few Sugoi pairs last week and I’ve done every run in them. I think I’m addicted.
    I like the fact that they are not especially tight/compressive as some others and yet I feel support for my achilles.

    I’ve been using the 2XU calf sleeves, and non-run specific compression socks (on ebay for about $12 each) for general recovery (my achilles rupture and post-workout) since August. I’ve been working on a review/info piece on compression socks since then too and maybe I’ll add some more info to the pot.

  • Thanks for the review Bob, I had Henry put a pair aside for me in the Newmarket store, my legs have been suffering all winter and I think these just might be the answer!!

  • I think you benefit most from compression socks during the recovery period after sport. I put my sugoi on immediately after training or competition. And many times I’ll put them on just because……. Just because they feel soooo goooood.

  • I actually used them after a long run this week-end and recovered quite quickly- these things are amazing.

  • I got the socks at the running room… they are amazing. I play about 8 games of soccer a week and about 2 months ago my calves were so tight i could barely walk… and since using these socks (which i play with, then recover with) my legs have done a complete turn around. I have also had problems with my achilles, and have noticed a lot more support while wearing these. I highly reccommend these socks for running and training…. and i too find myself wearing them just cause…

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