These days, compression gear is available to “squeeze” pretty much any body part you feel the need to squeeze. You can get socks, arm sleeves, tights, shorts… you name it. But I was unable to find any definitive studies that showed a significant benefit to wearing them. Study results varied from finding no benefit to showing some recovery benefit. None seemed to show a benefit to wearing it during the actual workout.
As you can tell from my race pictures, I wear compression socks. I started wearing them regularly after I strained my calf just a few weeks before my first time running 5 half marathons in 5 days. Prior to that, I had worn them to keep warm and because I’d been sent some to try. When I hurt my calf though, they really came in handy. My left calf needed that little bit of extra support to get my through longer runs and races. But I very seldom wear them for recovery. Every once in a while when my calf is crabby, I’ll put on a pair, but generally speaking I don’t. I did wear them after every one of my half marathons when I ran the first set of five, but did not the next time I ran a series. I did not notice an appreciable difference between my recovery during the two events. Would I benefit from wearing them more after a race? Jury seems to still be out on that.
Do I still need them to run? Probably not, but it’s become something I usually wear. I find them comfortable and I admit to liking what a friend calls my “naughty school girl” race outfits. Also, they extend skirt season by a few extra months. I can run much of the winter in skirts with compression socks and that makes me happy. So, I’ll continue to wear my PROcompression and Feetures compression socks while the scientists continue to try to figure it out. Maybe someday they’ll determine I’ve been doing it right all along.