How do compression socks work?

On the Run Mummy Run Facebook page compression socks are a huge talking point and can actually help with your running and recovery.

To discover more about the benefits of compression socks for running we welcomed Lori Coghlin-Pearson to the RMR community to host a compression sock Q and A.  Lori’s background is in the medical compression industry. With practical experience fitting, measuring and representing an international compression company she had a wealth of knowledge so was perfectly equipped to answer technical questions about our compression socks.


Sock Circle


Q  How do compression socks work?

A  Graduated compression socks deliver a controlled amount of pressure that is strongest at the ankle and decreased as it travels up the leg.  They act like a layer of muscle around the lower leg to improve the venous return and remove lactic acid.  The calf muscle is like your “second” heart.  If you have any damage to the vein walls due to pregnancy, standing on your feet, hereditary reasons, sitting for long periods you will have that tired, aching feeling.  When you wear your compression socks running they will also reduce the amount of muscle vibration.


Q  Are compression socks most useful worn during a run or afterwards?

A  You will find there are some athletes/runners that prefer to wear their compression socks during their run and some that prefer them after a long run for recovery.  This is a personal choice.  Personally I do wear my compression socks for running as I have a past achilles injury.


Q  Can compression socks help with DOMS?  (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

A  Absolutely!  The studies support the improved Max VO2 return but also mention the effect on DOMS and recovery after the run.  That being said many people find improved recovery occurs when they wear their compression socks during the run.  This is a personal choice but can provide relief.


Q  Will the socks aid the heavy leg feeling you can get whilst running?

A  Absolutely!  Compression socks can provide relief for tired, achey, heavy legs,  This is exactly why I wear mine DURING my runs.


Q  Can compression socks be worn under or over long running tights?

 A  They can be worn under leggings.  They are recommended to be under so that they are against the skin and fit properly.  Please make sure the socks sit two finger widths below the bend of the knee so you do not constrict the veins behind the knee (popliteal area).


Q  I am thinking of purchasing some compression socks.  Are they something you need to get used to wearing?  I have a half marathon a week would I be ok to wear them or should I try some training runs in them first?

A  I would recommend you try them for a shorter run first if you have not worn them in the past.  That being said we had a new compression sock wearer go out and complete a half marathon and never felt better wearing them for the first time.


Q  Someone mentioned to me you only need them for longer distances such as half marathons.  Are they beneficial on shorter runs as well?

A  Yes, the studies have shown in the longer runs the improvements for leg health but I will attest to the fact that I wear mine on all of my runs.  I am not currently doing any marathons but on my 30-60 minute runs they allow me to finish with no aching.


Q  I always run better when I’m wearing my compression socks.  Is it the socks or is it psychological? 

 A  If you run better and feel better wearing the compression socks then they are working.  There is a science behind the technical manufacturing process of the Run Mummy Run socks.  They are made on circular knit machines and tested for proper graduation up the lower leg.


Q Are compression sleeves as good as compression socks?

A  Compression socks will provide a small amount of compression in the foot-bed area along with arch support.  We do recommend covering the foot area if your running shoe accommodates the fit.  This will also allow no rolling up of a compression sleeve.  The sleeves provide great recovery along with the socks though.


Q  Are compressions socks one size fits all?

A  Graduated compression socks are definitely NOT one size fits all.  Sizes are offered starting with shoe size but also important is to include an ankle and calf circumference measurement as a guide.


Q  Which are better for bigger ladies with bigger calves, compression socks or compression sleeves?

A  The most important things is the fit of the compression socks or compression sleeves.  Please make sure you are reviewing the ankle and calf circumference to ensure the proper fit.  Both will provide a benefit for you.


Q  Can compression socks help with running with plantar fasciitis?

A  Compression socks will provide an extra layer of support around the calf muscle and I know my socks provide relief from achilles tendonitis.  Plantar fasciitis is a rest and ice condition but I do recommend trying compression socks during your runs/walks.  Good luck!


Q  Do compression socks help with ankle pain?  I struggle with ankle pain and have plates in my left one?

 A  Compression socks do not directly provide ankle stability but with support of the muscles and ligaments they can provide some relief.


Q  I have recently been getting pains on the front, inside of my calf.  Will wearing compression socks reduce of prevent this pain?

A  Many athletes or professionals that stand on their feet all day (i.e. nurses) do find relief from shin splint and achilles pain from wearing compression socks.


Q  Why can’t you sleep in compression socks?

A  Compression socks are for people that are ambulatory (walking/moving).  When you are lying down you are not fighting against gravity to improve the venous return.  When we immediately stand up our veins furthest from our heart have to work the hardest to return the blood flow.  Compression socks help to fight against gravity.  This isn’t needed when you’re sleeping!


Q  I had a DVT in my groin 2 years ago after having my 4th child, Should I be using compression socks for running?  I don’t do huge distances – normally 5-10k.

I am sorry to hear about your experience but also so pleased to know that you are researching compression socks.  You could speak to your doctor about compression socks and you may be recommended to wear a slightly higher compression level (20-30 mmHg+).  I would recommend trying to wear compression socks that are properly measured and fit as much as possible.  Leg health is important and congratulations on your 4th child.


Q  I have a bad varicose vein along the inside of my knee and running down my leg.  If the socks ends mid vein would it do more damage?  I am currently awaiting an operation to have it removed. 

A  Graduated compression socks have 100% of the compression at the ankle and then decrease to less than 20% at the top of the band.  They are fit and measured so that there is not any compression at the TOP BAND whether it is calf length or full length.  That being said you will be required to wear compression full length stockings post procedure.  After that doctors want your compliance and if you are more comfortable in calf length they will recommend this after your surgery and you are healed.  Please discuss this with your doctor.

14 thoughts on this post

  1. Hi Donna, i am going on a long flight (10 hours) and i get swelling in my ankles and feet whilst flying – can i wear leggings over my compression stockings?

    1. Hi Donna, we know lots of people wear their compression socks on long haul flights. It’s fine to team them with your leggings as long as they are not compression leggings. Just make sure that the compression socks are worn next to your skin. I hope that helps and have a great flight!

    1. Hi Lizzie.
      Thank you for your question.
      If you are wearing compression, footless tights you could wear ankle socks with them.
      Thank you, Lisa

  2. Hi, I am on my feet all day at work and I am very tempted to wear my compression socks for my 8 hour shift…is it ok to wear them all day ? Thanks

    1. Hi Tracie, thank you for your question. It’s absolutely fine for you to wear them on your shift, we just don’t recommend sleeping in them. I hope that helps!

  3. Hi I’ve got a weak ankle from previous injuries- can I wear compression socks with an ankle support over the top or is that not recommended?
    Thanks, Lauren

    1. Hi Lauren, thank you for your question. It is advised not to double up on compression so if it isn’t a compression support you should be fine. You may find as well that you don’t need to wear the support over the top as the compression levels by the ankle do provide support. I hope that helps but should you require any sizing help please send an email to [email protected] with your foot size, ankle and calf measurements. Thank you.

  4. I have had 2 tears recently one in my calf and one in my achillies would compression socks or sleeves help prevent this? Thank you

    1. Hi Gill, we are sorry to hear of your recent injuries. Compression socks and sleeves are not going to prevent tears and from what you have said we would recommend that you see a Physio as it’s likely you have an ongoing issue that needs sorting out. That said the socks/sleeves may provide a support and help ease any discomfort. We hope this helps.

  5. I struggle very badly with random leg cramps and am left in agony for days afterwards would compression socks help ease this slightly? I have booked in the doctors to investigate further but wanted to know if it would benefit me in getting some at all

    1. Hi Laura, there is no hard based evidence that it definitely will improve any injury or ailment. It is very personal to the individual. Our only advice would be to try a pair first and see if you see any change in your cramps, it doesn’t necessarily have to be our socks it can be any, just make sure they are proper compression socks with a grading. Best of luck!

    1. Hi Donna, there is no proven evidence that it will speed the recovery however many of our ladies have said they feel an element of support and extra protection wearing the socks with their various leg, calf, foot injuries.

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