Should You Wear Compression Socks For A Half Marathon?

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If you’ve attended a running event recently, you’ve probably seen people wearing super long socks. Sometimes the socks will even rise slightly above the knee. Most of the individuals I see wearing them are females, however, I’m starting to witness more and more men wearing the socks too. I finally had to give them a try during one of my long runs and eventually my 12th half marathon race. So, I’ve been wondering if compression socks actually work? But ultimately I want to know,

Should You Wear Compression Socks For A Half Marathon?

A 2014 study confirmed there are no scientific evidence compression socks physically help you recover or reduce soreness. However, individuals that wore compressions socks during the study, claimed their legs felt less sore which scientist attribute to a perceived feeling. Therefore, wearing compression socks for a half marathon is a matter of personal performance. If you wear your compression socks and they make you feel less sore then wear them.

So why in the world are so many people wearing them if they scientifically don’t aid you in recovery? Because the people wearing the compression socks swear that their muscles feel less sore after running hard and long durations.

What do compression socks actually do?

The main goal for compression sock is to increase blood circulation back to the heart while which helps reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. There are two varying thoughts on how this is being accomplished. Which one is actually doing it?

  1. Decreased muscle vibration – Your muscles are vibrating less from the impact on the ground, reducing the overall soreness of your calf muscles
  2. Improves blood circulation to the heart with the removal of lactic acid – By removal lactic acid faster your body is able to reduce inflammation.

Neither of these has been proven by medical science to be true, yet, however, the benefits of recovery seem to be where the compression sock wearers lean towards. Most runners that wear compression socks claim that their calf muscles have reduced fatigue and soreness.

Some of the fastest elite runners wear compression socks

So if the elites are wearing them, shouldn’t we wear them as well? Good question. I think this comes down to personal preference. If you try out compression socks and you feel a benefit, then go ahead and keep on wearing them. If you don’t like them, then simply don’t wear them. Some runners will wear them for two days after running a full marathon. They swear that compression socks seem to help them recover quicker with less soreness.

Whenever elite athletes in any sport start to try out and “trend” a product it seems to spread more quickly through the general mass audience of the sport.

Are compression socks harmful?

Whether or not compression socks actually give you any benefit or performance edge is still being looked at. There have been no studies that say compression socks are harmful in any way or form. So there should be no harm in trying them out, right?

How to find your compression sock size?

A graduated compression sock will require two different measurements. One measurement will be the circumference of the ankle area. The second measurement will be the circumference of the upper calf muscle right below the knee. To get the circumference measurement, use a tape measure to wrap once around your ankle and once around your upper calf muscle.

Best compression socks for running

3 Pairs Medical&Althetic Compression Socks (20-30mmhg) for Men & Women (Amazon Link)

Should You Wear Compression Socks For A Half Marathon (3)
These are the ones I purchased. Medical & Athletic Compression Socks

The SB Sox are highly rated and have a wide range of colors to choose from.

SB SOX Compression Socks (20-30mmHg) for Men & Women (Amazon Link)

Zeta makes larger circumference sizes ranging from 20-26 inch circumference around the upper calf and 14-17 inches circumference around the ankle area.

Zeta Sleeve XXL Wide Plus Size (20-30 mmHg) for Women (Amazon Link)

Check back next week, I’m testing compression socks for My 12th Half Marathon.

So, I thought I would tweak my 12th half marathon race gear by wearing compressions socks during my race for the first time. Always test your running gear prior to your actual race. Otherwise, you could do something to your routine that could easily mess things up.

Do compression socks really work?

For now, we are going to have to settle with each individual’s mental preference for their magical healings or not. You won’t know until you try them out on one of your harder workouts or longer runs. This might be one of those hidden gems in your running gear arsenal that could change the playing field for your recovery days. What do you think of compression socks?

What other gear do I need for a half marathon?

Check out this detailed post where I give you a detailed list of half marathon gear including:

  • pre-race kit
  • post-race kit
  • Pre-race meal consideration
  • Post-race recovery (including the next 7 days)

Check out the post here: Half Marathon Checklist – don’t leave home without this gear

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Coach Scott's Credentials:
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He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 22nd half marathon race. 

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