Remember the old compression socks that your grandmother wore? I'm pretty sure we couldn't be convinced to put those on while running, even if they did make our calves feel virtually-unused. But a few companies out there have worked hard to make compression socks not only work harder for the runner, but look better too. And hey, when you're sweating like a cat in labor, the last thing you need is some dorky accessory to make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.
For awhile, I have noticed runners wearing compression socks and sleeves, and honestly, I thought it was kind of a "fad" thing. I'm skeptical about a lot of products. I mean all you need to run is the pavement and some shoes, right? I'll even admit I was skeptical of DriFit. I ran the majority of my miles for my first half-marathon training in cotton capri pants and regular t-shirts. Gasp, I know! Do you need all these crazy items to run, absolutely not. But if you are committed to running and a product comes out that makes it more comfortable and prevents aches, pains, chafing, or injuries - why wouldn't you try it out?
So I finally gave in to try some compression socks, but not without some prodding from fellow runner, EW who thinks compression socks and sleeves should've been invented before sliced bread.
A pair of pink CEP compression socks arrived last Monday. I pulled them out of the sleek packaging and was stunned by the tiny things that were sitting there before me. I was just coming off my 50 mile week and had just done a 14.5 mile run on Sunday, so I thought I'd put them on immediately. You know what? My calves, which are always always sore post-race and post-long run, almost immediately felt better just having the compression on. Although at this point, I was still skeptical and wondering if I was getting the placebo effect. When I took them off a couple hours later, I was iffy... my calves were definitely still sore, though they seemed to feel better than they had earlier that day. My calves immediately felt worse though with the taking off of the socks... not to mention that I'm pretty sure I pulled an ab muscle trying to get these things off... but on to that later.
I was still anxious to put the socks to the test of a run, although I was nervous about the foot portion of the sock. I am not prone to blisters while running, and I didn't know if the sock would perform ok on keeping my feet happy.
So I finally took them out for a run last Friday for my 18-miler that turned into 19.1 miles. They were definitely tight on my calves (my calf size was borderline, so I went with the smaller size, so they might have even been tighter on me than on most). For the first few miles, I didn't notice much. My feet felt fine and so did the rest of me. At mile 4 or 5, I felt a mild tingling in my calves, and I actually got a little worried that perhaps they were too restrictive, but it quickly went away.
I didn't notice a huge difference while I was running. I didn't feel super speedy and the run didn't go by any faster mentally either... but that's really not the point of the socks, right? Although if they could build in speed, I'd definitely stock up on these!!!
I wore the socks for the entire 19.1 miles and for approximately 2 hours after the run. It's important to note that prior to this, I had never run more than 14 miles, so I was certain I would be sore. I don't know how to really "review" the details of these socks other than to say that I was never sore from this run. Seriously. I was shocked about it. I thought I would be limping up the stairs, and I wasn't. I thought I'd spend the rest of the day icing and elevating, and I didn't. I have no choice but to attribute it to the socks. And therefore, these socks WILL be on my calves for every long run and for my marathon. I'm a believer, and I've turned to the dark side on these things, and I'm pretty sure I won't go back.
Although the foot part didn't bother me, and I did not get any blisters - I do think I might like to try the sleeves so I could still wear my usual socks.
The only thing I didn't like about these socks was getting them on and off. This is something you truly can't understand until you do it. Beforehand was hard enough, but after I was sweaty and tired, I think both times my abs felt pulled when trying to remove these bad boys from my stinky feet. Ouch!!! But you do what works... And here's a YouTube video that proves it can be done! (If tri-athalons can do this while in transition, surely I can do it while cozy and comfy at my home, right?)
Want more details? You can find out all about CEP socks HERE. Some key points from their FAQ:
- Graduated compression, moisture-wicking sock. - Breathable synthetic fibers. - Many athletes see relief from injuries, pain, and cramping - especially injuries such as Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, Shin splints, and Calf cramping. - Easy to wash and last around a year with continual use (every other day). - CEP socks are "medically correct". They have more compression at the ankle and less at the calf. Many competitors do not, and this "slows blood flow and can create a venous insufficiency, which can lead to varicose veins and in the worst-case thrombosis." - Compression socks are also good for travel!!!
The big question I hear people ask when being told about compression is when to wear them. Per the website, they can be effection before, during, AND after. Here is the details provided by the company: "Before: The increased circulation aids in warming up the muscle by passively activating the muscles, getting them ready to perform. During: The increase in arterial flow brings more oxygen to the muscles. This increase power and in the study using CEP socks athlete had 5% faster running times! That’s 10 min in a marathon. After: The increased circulation helps to flush out the muscles and eliminate the lactate and Hydrogen ions that cause soreness. In addition to supplying the muscles with the nutrients to repair damage and de-hydration. "
Where can you buy CEP? Try SportsCompression.com. So I know everyone is ready to run out and purchase a pair now, but if you're like me, you're a little skeptical about spending that much money. But I truly think they are worth every cent... at least for me, and my body. As a special treat for my readers, SportsCompression.com has offered a 15% discount off your purchase when using the code BLOG15 at checkout. That means you can save around $8 a pair!!! They offer free shipping, so you really can't beat the convenience. I'm looking forward to adding a green pair to my running stash!
Disclaimer: I was provided a pair of CEP Compression socks for review, but this review is my own opinion.