Compression socks have become a popular recovery aid for distance running athletes. While some physiological markers have been shown to be affected by wearing these garments, there is little evidence on their effects on functional recovery. This research aims to shed light onto whether the wearing of compression socks for 48 hours following marathon running can improve functional recovery, as measured by a timed treadmill test to exhaustion 14 days following marathon running.Athletes (n=33, age = 38.5 ±7.2yrs) participating in the 2012 Melbourne, 2013 Canberra or 2013 Gold Coast marathons were recruited and divided at random into the compression sock or placebo group. A graded treadmill test to exhaustion was performed 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after each marathon. Time to exhaustion, average and maximum heart rates were recorded. Participants were asked to wear their socks for 48 hours immediately after completion of the marathon. The change in treadmill times (seconds) was recorded for each participant.33 participants completed the treadmill protocols. In the compression group average treadmill run to exhaustion time 2 weeks following the marathon increased by 2.6% (52s ±103s). In the placebo group run to exhaustion time decreased by 3.4% (-62s ±130s). P=0.009.
This shows a significant positive effect of compression socks on recovery in comparison to placebo. The wearing of below knee compression socks for 48 hours following marathon running has been shown to improve functional recovery as measured by a graduated treadmill test to exhaustion 2 weeks after the event.