Study: Wearing Compression Socks Post-Marathon Improves Recovery

new study provides scientific evidence to support the idea that your compression socks are not just fashionable, they’re also functional. The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that wearing compression socks for 48 hours after running a marathon improved performance on a treadmill test two weeks later.

The study used a randomized controlled double-blinded design to test the functional recovery effects of wearing compression socks. Study participants did a treadmill test to exhaustion two weeks before running a marathon and again two weeks after the marathon. The study began with 49 participants, but ended with 33 for various reasons (perhaps including some of them realizing how cruel it is to make someone run to exhaustion two weeks after completing a marathon).

The subjects in one group wore compression socks for 48 hours after completing their marathons, while the control group wore socks with only enough compression to keep them from falling down. The researchers said that the compression socks used for the study have a compression value typical of many of the commercially available compression socks.

Comparing each participant’s pre-marathon treadmill test to their post-marathon treadmill test, the runners who wore compression socks for 48 hours after the race improved by 52.4 seconds +/- 103.3 seconds (a 2.6 percent improvement) while the control group’s performance decreased by 61.7 seconds +/- 129.6 seconds (a 3.4 percent decline). Researchers concluded that this indicated that members of the compression sock group had fully recovered from their marathons while members of the control group had not.

The research team acknowledged that though the study was double blinded, it was possible that participants could guess which group they were in, based on how tight their socks were, which could potentially create a placebo effect.

While the compression socks used in the study were provided free of charge by Jobst, Jobst had no further involvement in the study.

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