So a while back I was on Twitter and Zensah socks asked would anyone be interested in reviewing their recovery socks, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth I of course said yes. Then later on the same week another company approached me about their compression socks. Following Donald’s idea I found some more compression sock manufacturers and approached them to try and collect as many pairs and provide as broad a set of reviews as possible, a couple said yes but most ignored me, then the second company backed out and only one came through in addition to Zensah. Subsequently a retailer has provided me with another two pairs; and so I in the order that they were received this is the first posts of four (maybe more if any more arrive) about Compression Socks.
As an intro to compression socks you should read this article written by Joe Friel, it seems that jury is still mostly out so this review is based simply on my personal experiences.
My training now includes weekly long runs of nothing less than 25 miles and I have one remaining long ride of 100 miles; my combined mileage will averaging around the 140 per week between now and AC100 in September so am I looking for any edge for recovery and injury prevention. I have been wearing these for a month (alternating with the Zensahs) and here are my findings.
The first review is on The Recovery Sock®. Here is some info provided by the company:
We highly encourage you to test the socks after a hard workout likely to leave your lower legs sore. For us a solid hill repeat workout typically do the trick, of course most any extended effort can get the job done.
Technical Features; a few of the highly functional components The Recovery Sock offer include:
Graduated Compression Technology (GCT); unlike other compression socks, the Recovery Sock utilizes a Patented GCT (Patent # 6,092,397). GCT means tighter compression in the foot and ankle area and a lessening compression in the sock as it travels up the leg to the calves. GCT causes an upward flow of blood helping to get un-oxigenated blood out of the leg and replaced with fresh oxygenated blood.
What are they made from and how long will they last?
The Recovery Sock is made from a polypropylene fiber called Silver DryStat, which has moisture wicking and antimicrobial (silver ions) properties: it keeps skin dry in all climates, it is extremely lightweight and completely stain resistant due to its antimicrobial treatments.The life of the sock will depend on care and use. We suggest to hang them dry in order to not ‘cook” the fibers which will last longer.
The Recovery Sock can also be worn during races and your workout. Due to GCT the blood flow upward is constantly functioning and blood circulation enhanced in your lower extremities. You can wear them in cold weather situation beneath your tights or other long pants for a daily.
And so for the review. As you would expect the sock’s fit is snug all over but one noticeable feature is that they are not overly tight on the foot. There is some heavy compression ribbing that runs from the foot arch to above the ankle there is plenty of room for your toes and the ankle turn is nonrestrictive. There is a nice arrow design on the heel which is probably there to promote the marketing position of the blood flow upwards but it also serves to ensure that you have nothing twisted. The toe appears to be seamless and although the literature states that they can be worn while running I opted not to as there is no cushioning under the sole and that it my preference for running socks. One thing I did notice is that they had the effect of making your shoes feel bigger, this is probably testament to their compression compared to regular socks.
Onto the leg. The socks take a bit of getting on, they are not foot specific. Above the ankle at the point where your soleus and gastoroc muscle meet the compression rubbing thins out. They then continue upwards to the top where there is a cuff, I was wearing a large and my calves measure 18” from ankle to knee and 17” at their widest circumference, they were plenty long enough, but maybe could have been a little tighter.
The fabric boasts silver ions included which has natural antimicrobial and wicking properties, I’m not 100% on the science but I can say that even with a full days wear my feet were not hot nor funky.
At face value the sock is simply a tight high sock, it really only is after wearing for a while that you can fully appreciate the effect it has. I would wear them after most weekday runs and long runs/rides from the weekend (alternating with the Zensahs), during the month I had an issue with one calf (maybe a slightly pulled muscle?) and I am sure that the compression added to the recovery, 10-12 days and it was cleared up. In addition to the overall compression they do a great job of keeping your legs warm which probably adds to the recovery.
My only complaint with these and this is only generated ‘by comparison’ is that the compression wore off, that is the stretchiness lessened over time, usually by the end of the day, it was however, revitalized after a wash and air dry; as recommended I did not put them in a dryer.
Available in several colors, yes there are some nice girly ones; pink, and a more practical black for ‘dress’ wear for men for that Monday morning back at work look.
It’s hard to gauge to scientifically gauge the impact of compression as I can only compare it to historic ‘without’ data, what I would say is that I recently finished by biggest running week ever with 76 miles including a 21 mile (4 hours) and a 26 mile (seven hours) runs, injury and soreness free and I am certain that the recovery between runs/rides was accelerated by wearing compression socks. Next up are the Zensahs...