Monday, July 27, 2009

Compression Socks; the conclusion...

As a follow up to the four compression socks/sleeves I reviewed I thought it would be fun to place all the info in one place in an easily digestible format that, hopefully, allows you to make an informed choice. To remind you I reviewed the Recovery Sock, Zensah sock, The Sugoi R&R sock and the RecoFit calf sleeve (click on the links to go to the reviews).

Whilst widely accepted as being beneficial post exercise and effective in aiding muscle recovery and reducing edema there is little scientific evidence for benefit during exercise and so most of this info is based on my opinion and is anecdotal.

Firstly here’s a comparison based on some consistent factors:

(Grading scale Poor/OK/Good)

It’s important to remember that these comments are somewhat subjective and are based solely on my experience.

Certainly from a recovery standpoint I am 100% convinced that the compression technology does work, I posted some pretty big numbers (for me) including 76 and 68 mile weeks without any issues. From exercise standpoint I was initially concerned that I would overheat and I didn’t, that my feet would get overly wet due to poor wicking and they didn’t and that I would be pointed at laughed at; I was a bit but I am overly 40 so who cares!

So from an exercise standpoint I do think that there is some, well actually a lot of merit in the idea of compression technology, of course as a muscle group while running your calves do play a part but obviously not as big a part as say hamstrings, and as has been pointed out to me to realize the full benefit of compression technology, a full leg covering is required, this I can concur with, and to try and imitate this as best I can I wore these socks my CW-X ¾ tights, which I have been running in for over a year, and of which I am a huge fan of, and I was grateful for in the cooler 5am morning runs.

So, some high and low lights:

Recovery Socks:
– Highs; look funky, long, not too thick
– Lows; poor overnight compression, they fell down by morning and struggled to last a day!

- Highs; solid compression over time, can be worn to work
- Lows; not variable compression areas, colors a bit dull, may be a bit short for tall person

- Highs; variable compression, nice and warm, funkyish looking, nicely padded sole
- Lows; very long, not the best wickability

- Highs; very contoured to muscle shape, very wicking, can be worn with any sock
- Lows; dull colors, no support for lower ankle or foot

So, due to the subjective nature of my results, my suggestion is to try them, try several pairs if you can, borrow a pair from friends or get them from somewhere that has a good return policy. If you're looking to combine running and recovery and you prefer a cushioned sock go for the Sugois or Zensah, if you're prefer thiner socks or you're stuck on your own brand/model go for the Recofits. Unfortunately the Recovery Socks fell down on the exercise front and to be honest they fell down, literally, on the compression front as well.

As you may have read in the individual reviews two of the socks were provided by the Wilderness Running Company and as part of the follow up to these reviews they are offering a discount for the next 7 days of 10% on the Sugois and 20% on the RecoFits plus and extra 10% if you use the coupon code “Quad10” at the checkout and free shipping to the lower 48 for orders over $50; follow this link to qualify. Finally a big thank you also to Zensah and Recovery Sock for supplying me with their products.

See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at


  1. I'm going back to my Zensah calf sleeves for race day only -- when I wear fhem, no calf cramps --

  2. I'm going back to my Zensah calf sleeves for race day only -- when I wear fhem, no calf cramps --

  3. Thanks, I first encountered these socks at the SF Marathon Expo last weekend, so your review is very timely, and helpful.

    Of course, I'd have loved a conclusive "and the winner is ...", but I do appreciate your balanced summary.

  4. i'm glad to see the socks i have came out with good results; i'm partial to them now.

    i don't know if it's mental or what but i feel like my legs have been recovering faster/not feeling sore or stiff because of compression socks. i'd be content if the socks are the key! now they just need to invent quad-socks...

    thanks for the informative reviews!

  5. Wow, you are super organized!

  6. great recap and review as always Stuart! Well done :)

  7. I love my 2XU compression sleeves. They work (or maybe its the super juice). What ever... I won't wear them on the bike again, but I'll wear them to run in soon and see how that goes.

  8. Thanks for the review! I have pretty big calves (for a chick), so I'm wondering if I'd need to get the men's socks. hmmmmm.

  9. Thanks for the writeup - and being well balanced in the pros/cons.

  10. thank for this awesome comparison!!! i love my compression socks and definitely believe they work too :)

  11. CW-X makes compression socks now

  12. Just thought I would let you know that if you size down in the Recovery socks they have GREAT elasticity all day and never all down. The minus is that they are too tight at the very top...they begin to dig into your calf and hurt.


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