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Runners are always looking for every possible advantage. If someone told us that we could wear a certain article of clothing to run faster, we’d put it on in a heartbeat. Some elite runners appear to be doing just that by wearing compression socks in workouts and races. Compression socks are long, elastic socks that cover the lower leg, and some runners swear that they improve performance and help recovery.
The general idea is that compression socks help running performance by limiting excess movement of the muscles and improving blood circulation, and also help to improve recovery time by reducing muscle swelling. Recent studies have analyzed whether these socks have actual, tangible benefits, or whether they are simply a placebo.
In one study, researchers found that the performance of treadmill runners who ran with compression socks improved. Another study failed to find any performance gains from compression socks, but did find that runners suffered less soreness after using them while running.
Based on the results of these preliminary studies and the fact that many professional runners now appear to find them beneficial, it might not be a bad idea to give compression socks a try. At least they should be able to keep you warm on cold days!