I seem to question everything these days. I have fallen too many times for that so called “wonder item” now on the market that will make me more flexible, take a minute off my time, brings on rapid recovery, the list goes on. I decided to run a number of experiments using compression socks over the last six months and I found they do help with recovery.First experiment
After a couple of hard days of training, I woke up the next morning to find my legs were so sore I had trouble walking. I put one compression sock onto my right leg, (underneath long pants), and went on with my day. I took the sock off during sleep that night. When I woke up my right leg was significantly fresher than my left. By going off feel, I would say my right leg was 50% more recovered than my other leg.
After waking up with sore legs from a few days of hard training, I put my normal compression sock on one leg and on the other leg I put a compression sock the next size smaller than what was recommended for me, again not wearing them when I was sleeping. The next morning when I woke, the leg that had a smaller size compression sock was significantly more recovered than the leg that had the normal compression sock on. Going on feel I would say around 20% more recovered than the other leg.
Running with compressions
I have done a number of different tests with running wearing compression socks and calf guards and I personally find no improvements in any way in my training, racing or recovery afterwoods. In the past, any run that was going to progress over an hour, I would always wear compressions, but now I will only use compressions for recovery.
Racing with compressions
As I have already noted, I have not found any improvements in performance. I have read wind tunnel data stating that some calf guards will add around 2 minutes to a 180km bike.
The one thing worth noting is that if you are going to race with calf guards or compression socks, beware that it will increase your body temperature.