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Compression Stockings for Athletes

By Vascular Vein Centers

Until recently compression stockings were used for people suffering from varicose veins and the skin conditions they cause. Often they were worn begrudgingly because of the difficulty getting them on and the perception that they were hot.

In the last several years medical investigators working with premiere athletes predominately in the triathlon, distance biking and running fields have noted impressive and surprising results with compression socks. One of the problems endurance athletes face is "cramping" or "hitting the wall" secondary to the build- up of lactic acid because the aerobic threshold was exceeded.  

What are Graduated Compression Stockings?

Graduated compression (compression highest at the ankles, less in the calf) and over the calf stockings not only affects the veins, preventing pooling of blood in the muscles, but also affects the arterial flow to the muscles. The muscle of the arterial wall actually relaxes, increasing the arterial diameter and increasing perfusion and performance. This increase in perfusion with higher cellular oxygen concentration leads to better peak performance and accelerated recovery.

A recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical International Associated institution confirmed that constant pressure from the outside (compression stocking) increases blood circulation and perfusion in the extremities

Compression Stockings and Marathon Runners

A follow-up study of 19 marathon runners using the CEP running socks for three months in training and competition found the following results:

1. 47% of the runners experienced an easier run and 53% noted the calf musculature to be more relaxed.

2. 60% of the runners who suffer from muscle and tendon ache in the lower leg experience pain in the ankle/foot joint reported relief from these aches as a result of wearing compression sport socks.

Athletes report no significant problems as far as tolerance of stockings and sleeves (ankle to over the calf) even with heat. The stockings can be sprayed with water of particularly hot days helping to cool the body. Athletic compression stockings are available at all of the Vascular Vein Center offices.

Learn more about compression therapy and how it can help you treat venous conditions.

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