Can wearing the socks help you run faster? According to a new study, wearing compression stockings could give you a “leg up” when it comes to outrunning your competitors. Find out more about this surprising way to boost running performance.
Wear Compression Stockings to Run Quicker?
Doctors recommend compression stockings to patients who have varicose veins and other circulatory problems. These socks or stockings apply pressure to the calf, which helps to facilitate the return of venous blood to the heart.
Fitness gurus already know that wearing compression stockings helps a runner recover more quickly from a run by increasing venous blood flow back to the heart, but their effect on running performance has only recently been looked at.
Can You Run Faster with Compression Stockings?
Researchers recruited 21 male runners to take part in a treadmill running test. Half the men wore compression stockings that covered only their calves, while the other half ran with bare calves. The stockings were designed to provide consistent compression to the calf muscles during running as opposed to a graded compression, which most compression stockings do.
Did wearing compression stockings help the running performance of these men? The men who wore the compression stocks were able to run quicker than the men who ran with bare legs – and they achieved a higher maximum speed.
How Does Wearing Compression Stockings Help Runners Run Quicker?
The researchers believe that wearing compression stockings makes a runner more “mechanically efficient” by supporting the hard-working calf muscles, which enables them to work harder.
They believe the key lies in wearing a compression stocking that provides constant rather than graduated or variable amounts of compression. The stockings don’t seem to increase performance by enhancing oxygen flow back to the heart since Vo2 max didn’t increase substantially when the men wore the compression socks.
Run Quicker with Compression Stockings: The Bottom Line?
If you’re a serious runner or run competitively, wearing compression stockings that apply constant compressive force to the calves could help you improve your speed. This type of compression stocking may a little harder to find since most apply graduated amounts of compression. This is good for muscle recovery but may not have the same effect on running speed. If you can find these stockings, give them a try. It could help you run faster.
Journal of Strength Conditioning Research. 2009 Jan;23(1):101-5.