What are those weird school girl socks on runners?
In the latest edition of Competitor Magazine– Aaron Hersh wrote how these crazy looking socks technically called compression socks have three main objectives; running performance, reduced soreness and expedited recovery.
How these socks are supposed to work?
By the socks squeezing the blood vessels, the resultant effect is to have the blood vessels open forcefully which allows more oxygen carrying blood into the muscle and waste carrying blood to leave.
Foot striking causes vibration in the muscle and microtauma leading to damage at a cellular level in the muscle which leads to post exercise soreness.
The extra blood flow created by the mechanism described above it theoretically should lead to expedited metabolic waste removal.
Does the science support these theories?
Physiologists at the University of Newcastle found that athletes wearing compression socks had increased blood flow and reduced heart rates during high intensity endurance running. This should theoretically mean performance improved but they also found that the runners weren’t actually faster. So the conclusion is that this performance improvement maybe too small to be significant.
Massey University in New Zealand published a paper concluding that there was a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness 24 hours after a hard 10km road run.
Exercise Scientists at the University of Exeter had athletes do three strength exercises one, two, three and four days after an intense plyometric workout. They found that wearing compression for 24 hours post exercise improved performance in all three strength tests and reduced perceived muscle soreness.