Compression socks and sleeves are often worn by athletes to recover faster, energize legs and alleviate the pain from common injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, cramping, and Achilles strains. Graduated compression provides support, the stabilization of muscles and joints, and helps to decrease fatigue, swelling and soreness.
What's the difference between socks and sleeves?
For the most part, wearing socks or sleeves is a personal preference. Leg sleeves are made without the foot portion of the sock and provide the same amount of compression as socks. If you have a lucky pair of ankle socks or sandals, you can still comfortably wear them with calf sleeves. Compression sleeves are also great for triathlons to keep you moving when switching from swimming to cycling. If you are experiencing swelling, you should not wear compression sleeves.
To get the full recovery and performance benefits of compression, knee highs are ideal. If you are traveling, you should wear compression socks instead of sleeves to prevent blood from pooling in the ankles and feet. Compression socks are more effective in preventing blood clots (DVT) when flying or long periods of inactivity.
What should I wear for performance or recovery?
Both compression socks and calf sleeves can be worn for performance and recovery. After a long run or tough workout, try 15-20mmHg compression socks to recover faster. To enhance performance, wear socks or sleeves that provide 20-30mmHg compression to boost endurance and to keep your legs feeling energized mile after mile. If you're looking for a sock or sleeve that you can wear for performance, recovery and travel, choose one that provides 15-20mmHg compression.
- TheraSport Performance Socks and Sleeves provide 20-30mmHg compression and are made from a stretchy fabric that's easy to get on and off. Made with a moisture-wicking fabric to keep your feet cool and dry. Also anti-microbial to prevent odor.
- Sigvaris Performance Socks come in lots of bright colors and provide 20-30mmHg compression to enhance performance and protect you from injury. Made with high-tech fibers for thermal and odor control. Stabilizes and reduces vibrations of active muscles.
- Solidea Micro Massage Leg Sleeves are made with a fabric that is activated as you move to massage your leg and reduces excess fluid [to help speed up recovery]. Made with a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that contains silver to reduces odor.
Triathlons: The Sigvaris Compression Calf Sleeve provides 20-30mmHg compression to enhance performance. They also dry quickly and are made with a fabric that won't deteriorate in salt, chlorine or fresh water. This style is also available in a 20-30mmHg compression sock.
Marathons: CEP Progressive Run Socks are some of the most popular running socks out there. Many athletes like Meb Keflezighi are seen competing in them. These socks come in a variety of colors and provide 20-30mmHg of graduated compression so you can run farther, faster with a reduced risk of injury. Also available in calf sleeves.
- Sigvaris Recovery Sock provides 15-20mmHg compression to remove lactic acid and reduce delayed muscle soreness to speed up recovery. This sock is made with patented DriRelease fabric to eliminate odor and moisture, so you can wear it working out too!
- CEP Recovery Socks provide graduated compression to reduce lactic acid and decrease muscle soreness. This style is also available with an open toe to wear with sandals.
- Therasport Recovery Compression Socks provide 15-20mmHg compression and are available in a variety of fun, eye-catching colors. This style is also available as a leg sleeve.
Shin Splints: If you have shin splints, these Sigvaris calf sleeves have been proven to prevent and relieve pain and cramping from shin splints. Made latex-free from high tech fibers that prevent odor and provide thermal control. Great for runners, cyclists and triathletes.
Plantar Fasciitis: Runners often suffer from plantar fasciitis. Get relief with the Sockwell Plantar Ease Ankle Sock. Made from anti-bacterial and thermo-regulating wool and features a seamless toe closure to prevent irritation. This ankle sock provides 20-30mmHg compression surrounding the arch to minimize pain and reduce inflammation.
See for yourself! Zensah created a great chart to help you decide if you should wear calf sleeves or compression socks. What is your preference?