Compression socks are tight, compressive forms of clothing, often made out of elastin and nylon, which are designed to enhance recovery. Not only are these worn by hockey players in an attempt to improve performance and enhance recovery, but they are also worn in abundance by recreational fitness enthusiasts. The current commercial belief is that wearing compression garments can enhance athletic performance and improve post-exercise recovery time based on the following physiological and psychological influences. There are many compression socks on the market that make performance enhancement claims. As such it is important that claims made are research supported. In this article we have chosen to review SKINS compression socks. But before doing this let us unpack the reasons for wearing compression socks.
How compression socks work?
To really understand how compression socks work, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how blood flows through the body. The heart pumps oxygen containing blood to our extremities and working muscles though arteries. Once the cells use the oxygen and other nutrients from the blood, the then deoxygenated blood, along with lactic acid and other waste products enter the veins to get taken back to the heart. Once the blood gets back to the heart, it’s oxygenated from the lungs and the process is repeated.
Keeping oxygenated blood flowing to muscles is important for performance. The more oxygen the cells have, the better they will function. During exercise, the body produces lactic acid as a waste product. If this lactic acid is not removed from the muscles, it can contribute to soreness and decreased ability to perform. Another factor in decreased performance is muscle fatigue. Muscular vibration during physical activity contributes to fatigue. Think about how much shock and vibration is going through your leg muscles as you pound pavement with 3-5 times your body weight while running. Over time, those little vibrations of the muscles add up and they become fatigued.
Now that we know what the blood and muscles are doing while we are running, let’s talk about what compression socks and sleeves do to help the body. Compression socks provide graduated compression, meaning the compression is higher (tighter) at the foot and ankle and lower (looser) as it moves up the calf and lower leg. This type of compression helps to fight the effects of gravity and assist the body in venous return (deoxygenated blood flowing back up to the heart).
Recent studies show that with an optimal level of consistent compression, the walls of the arteries will dilate, increasing the blood flow through them. Arterial blood flow has been shown to increase up to 40% during activity and 30% during recovery. This means more oxygen and nutrients flowing through the body! On the other hand, the walls of the veins will constrict under compression, which helps to increase the velocity of blood flow through them. Increased velocity of blood flow through veins means that deoxygenated blood and lactic acid will get back to the heart quicker, which will help to increase the rate of recovery and decrease muscle soreness!
Compression will also help to stabilize the muscle and decrease the amount of muscular vibration, resulting in decreased fatigue. To sum up the benefits of compression; enhanced performance through increased blood flow, quicker recovery and decreased muscle soreness, and less fatigue. All good things!
So are compression socks or sleeves good for shin splints, calf cramps / strains, and Achilles tendonitis?
The answer is yes, however, they will not cure any condition if the only thing you are doing to help your injury is wear compression. All injuries should be assessed so that the real cause can be addressed. Wearing compression can help to make your injury feel better as you are recovering, help get you through that last long run before your marathon, or possibly prevent a new injury from coming on. Proper rest, massage, stretching / strengthening, footwear, and progression of training should all be considered when dealing with a lower leg injury.
Skins – pioneers in compression garments
In 1996, an Aussie skier had a bold ambition to feel ten years younger so he could ski all day, party all night and be ready the next morning do it all again. His starting point was the knowledge that improved blood circulation would supply more oxygen to his muscles, helping them work harder for longer and recover faster. So he consulted with NASA and other experts to confirm he was on to something. Turns out he was. Soon word got out that there were these things called SKINS that improved your power, speed, stamina and recovery. Pro athletes were the first to start wearing them. Before long, amateur athletes joined the party. SKINS are currently sold in 31 countries and manufacture over 100,000 units a month
A synopsis of Skins Technology
The fabric in SKINS is warp knitted using multiple fine quality yarns to give superior performance.
- Warp knit fabrics have no natural stretch – instead, the spandex mix ensures specific levels of elasticity and perfectly controlled compression. For a compression product this is superior to using circular knit which has natural stretch, making it hard to maintain the correct level of compression. Circular knit fabrics are also less durable and likely to run if snagged.
- Warp knit construction has a ‘float line’ between loops to aid moisture management
- Multiple yarns are used for added strength and to eliminate running if the fabric is torn
- Wicking is inherent in all SKINS fabrics. Moisture is drawn away from your skin, so you stay dry and comfortable. This process allows the body to regulate its temperature naturally. Even during an intense workout, your muscles can function at their optimal temperature.
The amount of research published on the functional parameters of SKINS is unrivalled within the sports compression wear industry. So far, ten studies carried out using SKINS have been published in independently peer reviewed medical journals. Published research of this kind has contributed to SKINS being recommended and endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and qualifying for registration as a therapeutic device by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration. Click HERE for more research information
SKINS compression socks
- Skins Bio Essentials Calf Tights
Take your sports performance to the next level with SKINS Essentials Calf Tights with Stirrup. Combining SKINS Dynamic Gradient Compression with muscle wrapping seams and a stirrup that sits comfortably under the arch of the foot, these Calf Tights are a comfortable compression solution for any sport. Biomechanically positioned panels and seams support and stabilise the muscles to reduce fatigue and risk of injury.
. More oxygen – Dynamic gradient compression delivers more oxygen-filled blood to active muscles to increase power and stamina.
. Rock-solid base – Memory MX fabric maximises your stability and control while channeling the direction of your calf muscles.
. Recover quicker – Less lactic acid build-up, less muscle vibration – and less pain later on.
- Skins Essentials Unisex Calf tights
Essentials Calf Tights MX add the compression kick you need to go the extra mile. Constructed for both men and women, SKINS Calf Tights MX merge SKINS best compression tech with durable high-tech fabrics, supporting and stabilising the lower leg to boost performance and reduce the risk of injury.
- Memory MX Fabric has a superior high-stretch yarn that doesn’t change shape or sag, so you maintain consistent compression, session after session. A400 Long Tights have 70D Memory MX over the knee and Achilles tendon for unrestricted natural movement, and 210D Memory MX over the ITB and TFL muscle groups to help reduce the risk of injury.
- SKINS compression fabric is made from a warp knitted mix of yarns that give you a carefully calculated level of stretch for controlled compression and durability.
- Moisture wicking fabric draws sweat away from the body to the surface of the garment where it evaporates to keep you dry.
If you are looking towards your performance in the 2018 hockey season it is suggested one of you considerations if you have not already is to get a compression sock to wear. SKINS are a proven brand. You can purchase your SKINS compression sock here