I have spent the better part of the last four years testing out various brands of compression socks. I have been a firm believer in them since the day I started running four years ago. I never really paid attention to the health benefits; it was simply as a tribute to my dad who had to wear one on his leg. He was bitten by a brown recluse spider about 20 years ago and after suffering a blood clot doctors told him to wear the medical grade sock to help with blood flow. I always felt horrible for him having to wear that sock around during the hot summer months and people always seemed to be looking at his leg wondering what he was wearing which really bothered me. When I started wearing the socks they were simply a tribute to my dad that passed away too early in life from a Pulmonary Embolism but after a short period of time I realized just how beneficial they were to my recovery.
I had read a few articles from people that said the socks should be worn after your run or while sleeping but I loved how they felt when I ran in them. Being so new to the sport I had no idea if it was the placebo effect or if there was some benefit to recovery. I tried quite a few brands of socks before finally settling on the popular CEP socks. I loved how they felt on but I was never happy with the durability of them especially for $55 a pair. I was getting very few runs out of a pair of socks before I was noticing rips all over the socks. One can only buy so many pairs of $55 socks before it is time to try another brand. I tried a new brand last year and loved them for the perfect thickness and breathability but I struggled with them during races with lots of water crossings. The socks didn’t seem to dry quite as fast as some of the others and my feet didn’t respond quite as well. I then went to the lesser known brand but I couldn’t ever find a pair that gave the perfect fit for my leg. They were shorter in length than the other brands and I had a problem with them falling down. Maybe I needed to do more calf raises. I switched back and forth with these three brands for the better part of four years and finally came to the conclusion that they all have some great attributes and some flaws but for the most part they were all on an equal playing field.
Since I had experimented with so many different socks at this point I have been bound and determined to find my go to brand. I have my go to shoes from inov-8 and my patented yellow race shirt but my sock brand seems to change daily. I have a drawer full of the $55 socks but most of them have holes in the ankles. This is one of my biggest problems with the socks and a couple companies have told me to expect that over time but I would think a pair would last me a year especially when I’m rotating 10 different pairs.
In January I came across an advertisement for a new brand called “Skins” compression gear. They have been producing compression gear for a long time but they were just coming out with compression socks for runners. I was intrigued by all of the gear on their website so I decided to order a couple pairs of the socks to try them out. I have never shied away from trying something new on race days or long runs so I decided I would pack them for Three days of Syllamo and they would be my 50K and 50M socks.
This sock is definitely designed with comfort in mind and they have done an excellent job making them extremely breathable. They feature a little bit in padding around the heel and on top of the fore foot to keep friction to a minimum and also to reduce the pain associated with extra tight shoe laces. I always tie my shoes very tight because I don’t like to mess around with them during a race but this has been known to bruise the top of my foot after a hundred mile race. When I look for a sock they not only need to be breathable but they need to have built in moisture control. The last thing you want as a runner is wet feet which will cause blisters very quickly in a long run. Skins technology uses an anti-chaffing yarn that reduces moisture, friction, and hot spots on your feet.
The benefits of compression socks are clear and no matter what brand you buy you will notice increased circulation and the reduction of blood lactate but there is so much more to a good sock. This particular model is a little longer sock than its competitors and they have done a great job providing a sock with just enough compression to target extra muscle support for your calves. My calves take a beating from running hills daily but they immediately feel better the minute I slip into a pair of these socks. In order for me to maintain my running streak I will be slipping on a pair of these each morning as I head out for my morning run. Not only do I like how they feel, they have now become my signature look.
I tested the socks out at Syllamo and the benefits during the run were incredible. The first two days of the three day event I felt refreshed each morning and had zero pain in my legs. The third day is a different story because I was extremely sick before this stage started. When I awoke from my coma state that Sunday morning the only part of my body that didn’t hurt was my legs so even though I had been extremely dehydrated and ill all Saturday evening I put on my socks and finished up three day stage race. I had some bad luck on the first day with my socks as they developed a slight rip from the multiple water crossings and prickly brush but one email to the company and they sent me three pairs to replace them. I have now been wearing them for over a month and they have proven to be extremely durable and it seemed like I just got unlucky with one of my original purchases. I loved that they recognized that sometimes a defect occurs and they immediately asked if they could replace them for me. I wasn’t looking for anything from them as a company and they surprised me with their excellent customer service by sending me three replacement pairs. Hats off to them for recognizing that most of us runners can’t afford to replace $55 socks every week or month for that matter.