Can Compression Socks Help Runners?

More and more runners are buying and using compression socks to help them with their running! These socks fit around the leg far more tightly than regular socks do.

Can Compression Socks Help Runners

You’ll definitely notice the difference when you’re using them! But what exactly do compression socks do, and exactly how do they work? Should you use compression socks? We’ll tell you everything that you need to know!

About Compression Socks

Compression socks are something you might have seen before, but don’t know much about! They’re used by many runners, of course, but they actually get used outside of running too.

Many people might be familiar with their use in medical environments, for example, as they’re often part of many medical treatments.

For instance, they’re often used as a quick way to hold a dressing onto a wound. People with issues regarding their blood circulation often use compression socks to assist them.

Used for medical reasons, they’re often intended to prevent the pooling of blood in the lower portions of the leg due to gravity. People with varicose veins often use compression socks for this reason.

Compression socks help to prevent blood pooling in this way by slightly compressing the leg so that blood can’t pool up in the blood vessels and veins.

Are Compression Socks A Modern Invention?

Although they might seem like something new and exciting, compression socks aren’t actually really a modern invention at all!

The idea of compressing the legs to help with various problems related to blood circulation has been around since at least the time of Hippocrates.

While of course we haven’t always been able to purchase modern compression socks, the idea of using compression for medical reasons has existed for thousands of years.

Of course, one of the great things about the modern era is that we have more advanced manufacturing techniques than they did thousands of years ago!

We’re now able to buy compression socks that are designed to fit just like regular socks, and can apply the right amount of pressure across the entire compression area.

In the modern era, compression socks aren’t just used for medical reasons either. Many runners use them to help improve certain aspects of their running!

Why Do Runners Use Compression Socks?

Why Do Runners Use Compression Socks

Compression socks are easy to purchase nowadays! They’re easy to find online, as well as in many stores. But what exactly do runners use compression socks for?

Well, essentially, they’re used for the same thing – to counteract the effects of gravity on the blood circulation system!

Your heart is a powerful pump, but gravity can still cause it to have to do more work to pump your blood when you’re standing.

And when you’re out running, your heart has to do more work than usual, meaning it has a harder time pumping blood around your body against the effects of gravity.

Runners use compression socks to mitigate against this, as the compressive force helps to prevent blood from settling in the lower parts of the leg.

This is intended to not only help against gravity impeding blood flow, but also to prevent swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet.

What Sort Of Compression Socks To Try?

There are lots of different types of compression sock available, which can make it hard for buyers to decide what they should be looking for!

Typically, runners are better off with compression socks that offer differing levels of compression at different parts of the leg. They’ll normally prefer socks that are a little tighter at the ankles, getting less so as they go up the leg.

Knee high compression socks are typically thought to be the best for most runners. They can stop your socks from rolling down and becoming a tourniquet around your leg!

You’ll want to make sure that your socks are the correct size for your feet and legs, in order to get a comfortable fit that provides the correct amount of compression.

They’re typically going to be noticeably tighter than regular socks, so don’t be surprised if they take more effort to get on. And, of course, you’re really going to be able to tell the difference in tightness!

As long as you’ve got correctly sized, comfortable socks, and the right compression rating, you should get used to the feeling eventually.

How Much Compression?

Many people who are interested in buying compression socks wonder exactly how tight they should be. After all, there are many different compression socks, and many different levels of compression!

You’re most likely best off with something that offers light/medium compression at first. Compression socks that offer these levels of compression are going to still be tight, but probably not so tight that it’s uncomfortable.

If you go straight to a high level of compression, you likely won’t enjoy wearing the socks as much.

Higher levels of compression also makes for another issue. Compression socks are difficult enough to get on as it is!

They fit a lot more tightly than regular socks, which means that you can actually end up having to put a bit of effort into getting them on!

Socks that have higher levels of compression can be a bit difficult to get on if you’re not used to them, due to the fact that they’re so tight.

Medical Issues

One thing that everybody should be aware of when trying compression socks for the first time is that they’re not recommended for people with certain medical conditions to use.

They shouldn’t be used by anyone with a skin infection, as they can definitely irritate the skin and make the problem worse.

If you have any other issues with your skin, then you also should probably avoid using compression socks.

As previously mentioned, compression socks are often used by people with issues regarding their blood circulation.

However, they should only be used in this way as pa[rt of a treatment plan after consultation with a doctor.

Likewise, if you have swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles, you shouldn’t just jump straight away to compression socks as a fix for the problem.

This is particularly true if it’s a regular occurence! You should definitely make sure that you speak to a doctor if you have any issues at all with your legs!

Do They Actually Work?

Compression techniques are certainly used as part of a treatment plan for many issues to do with blood circulation.

While they’re definitely not a magic cure for anything, they’re widely used to help people prevent swollen legs, feet, and ankles due to gravity making blood pool in the lower areas of their body.

They’re also used by many travelers! If you’re on a long flight or road journey, you’re often stuck in one place for a very long time. This can often cause swelling in many passengers.

Indeed, it’s very common for passengers on planes to wear compression socks or compression bandages to help mitigate against swelling due to this. You can even buy them in shops in airports!

Do They Make You Faster?

Do They Make You Faster

As to whether compression socks will actually make you a faster runner, that’s a different thing.

Let’s stay cautious and say that you’re probably better off focusing on other areas of your training if you’re hoping to become a faster runner.

Strength, breathing, and endurance training are all going to make you a better runner than any sort of socks will.

However, they might well help you out with swelling of the legs, feet, and ankles. If this happens to you, then you should of course speak to a doctor, if only to make sure that it’s nothing serious!

Should You Use Them?

Ultimately, this is up to you. If you’re already using them, and getting a benefit, then there’s nothing to say that you shouldn’t.

They’re certainly not going to replace training if you’re looking for increased athletic performance, but many runners swear by their compression socks.

You definitely shouldn’t spend a lot of money on expensive socks hoping for performance gains from them.

However, many people do find compression socks to be useful, especially when it comes to helping with their blood circulation, and to help prevent swelling.

Again, if you have any issues that you’re worried about with your legs, the best thing to do is speak to a doctor!


Many runners indeed swear by their compression socks. WHile it’s not at all clear if they can help you out when it comes to actual performance gains, they are certainly sued for a lot of other things.

And, if they help you out, then fantastic! Hopefully, this guide has helped you to find out everything you needed to know about compression socks for runners!

Richard Harris