What Do Graduated Compression Stockings Really Do For Runners?

Jenny L Sanders DPM

Graduated compression stockings have been popular with runners since 2010. But what do these leg warmer-esque compression socks really do anyway?

The theory is that the graduated venous compression leads to improved blood flow, which may lead to improved performance and recovery. Unfortunately, scientific studies do not support these assertions. In fact, recent studies have shown that healthy runners wearing graduated compression stockings did not experience any physiological benefits during or following running.1,2 However, athletes did feel more comfortable wearing low-grade graduated compression stockings while running.

What does this mean for your patients? If they have an extra $35 to $50 to spare or just want to be in the fashion-forward crowd, graduated compression stockings can’t hurt. On the other hand, their money is probably better spent on finding a better fitting pair of running shoes. This YouTube video (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iglPyCtyVbg ) offers recommendations on how to achieve proper running shoe fit.

References

1. Ali A, Creasy RH, Edge JA. Physiological effects of wearing graduated compression stockings during running. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010; 109(6):1017-25.

2. Del Coso J, Areces F, Salinero JJ, et al. Compression stockings do not improve muscular performance during a half-ironman triathlon race. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Dec 13. [Epub ahead of print]

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