There are plenty of reasons cyclists choose to wear compression socks. Studies show that your cycling performance can improve just by wearing them. Whether you’re a seasoned racer or a brand new cyclist, you’re likely familiar with the sore muscles and bodily fatigue that come with an extended period in the saddle: it’s a result of the building up of lactic acid in your muscles. This is where compression socks come in.
Compression socks are made with graduated medical-grade compression technology, which is a specially constructed knit that’s tighter around the foot and ankle than it is around the calf. Having more pressure at the very bottom of your leg, which eases as it moves upwards, helps to promote blood circulation. Blood is encouraged to flow more efficiently from the lower extremities back up towards the heart and lungs, where it receives more oxygen.
This improved circulation comes with many benefits, including a reduction in lactic acid buildup during cycling, and the increased flushing of lactic acid during recovery.
Compression socks also provide extra leg support, helping your muscles to recover after a hard workout, and enhanced comfort. Cycling-specific compression socks are designed to provide the perfect fit (with a designated left and right sock), and to keep your feet cool and dry with moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating materials. They also feature extra foot padding to help prevent blisters.
How to choose cycling compression socks
The most important to do before you buy cycling compression socks is to get an accurate measurement of your legs. Since the benefits come from the tightness of the socks in particular parts of your legs and feet, it’s crucial to get the correct fit. There are also different levels of compression to choose from, so that’s something else you need to think about.
It’s worth bearing in mind that as with most elasticated clothing, compression socks eventually lose their elasticity and stop functioning properly, so it’s advised to replace them every four or five months.
Finally, if you have any concerns about your health, and the impact compression socks may have on an existing condition, please consult your doctor or a medical professional.
There are different levels of compression to choose from, which are measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury). Each has its own specialty and suitability.
Generally the most mild compression level is 8-15 mmHg, which provides relief for aching legs, and can help relieve minor swelling of the feet. It’s a great option for helping to maintain healthy and energized legs.
Medium is 15-20 mmHg, and helps to relieve minor to moderate swelling, as well as aching muscles and varicose veins.
The firm compression level of 20-30 mmHg is possibly the most frequently prescribed, and offers moderate compression to treat various mild to moderate conditions.
Anything extra firm that is 30 mmHg or above should only be worn with supervision from a doctor or a medical professional.
If you’re not sure which level of compression you need, consult your doctor or a medical professional.
Excellent quality recovery compression socks
These recovery compression socks from 2XU have a graduated fit to promote increased blood flow, which helps repair muscle after a particularly gruelling day on the bike. Padded zones on the heel and ball provide extra support, while the seamless design around the toe cage offers greater comfort and zero friction or pinching. The toe area is also vented to help with breathability.
As a ballpark figure, the 2XU socks provide 25-35 mmHg overall. The graduated compression actually provides 33 mmHg around the ankle, gradually reducing to 28 mmHg at the top of the calf. Spend your rest day wearing these to bring back some energy into your sore, tired legs.
A huge number of colors and patterns to choose from
This 3-pack of knee-length compression socks from Charmking provides excellent value for money. With a whopping 29 color and pattern combinations to choose from, you’ll be sure to find something that suits your personal style. While compression socks are meant to provide a function, it doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Why settle for monochrome socks when you could have colorful socks with watermelon slices or cats on them?
These provide 15-20 mmHg of pressure, making them a good place to start if you’re new to cycling with compression socks. With 85% nylon and 360-degree stretch, these socks are comfortable, flexible, breathable and help maintain optimal temperature.
6 pairs of compression socks for a great price
If you’re new to compression socks and feel like trying them out, and perhaps are concerned about matching them with your favourite kit or cycling clothes, then look no further than these colorful 6-packs from Quxiang. They’re available in an array of colors and patterns so there’s bound to be something you like, and best of all you get 6 in a pack for an unbeatable price.
With 15-20 mmHg these are a great way to ease yourself into the world of compression socks, without overdoing it.
A thin and light feel keeps you cool on warm days
These athletic fit compression socks are true to size and come with ten colors to choose from. Constructed from 70% nylon and 30% spandex, the double stitched fabric is both breathable and durable, and offers quick-drying and moisture-wicking properties. Stay-put cuffs prevent them from riding down, while their thin feel makes them ideal for wearing in hot weather.
These compression socks offer a firm 20-30 mmHg.
Ankle socks for those who want to blend in
With 15-20 mmHg of pressure, these ankle-length compression socks can be used to relieve all sorts of pain, from calf cramps and pulled muscles, to achilles and heel cup issues, blisters, and blood pooling.
They’re reinforced at the heel and toe for added support, and lightly padded around the ball and top of the foot, to promote comfort and eliminate stress and abrasion. Choose from a pack of 3, 6 or 7, depending on your needs.
Extra wide calf and ankle space
Compression socks are supposed to fit snugly in order to provide that all-important pressure. However, many people have wider calf muscles than is usually catered for in knee-length garments, while others just may find themselves not fitting into the largest sizes offered by most brands, which is demoralising and excluding.
We really like that Mojo offers this plus-size friendly compression sock, which goes all the way up to 4XL sizing, offering extra wide calf and ankle room. It offers 20-30 mmHg compression, while the zone construction provides selective cushioning and compression for the most important areas of the foot, ankle and calf.
The ultimate tool for leg muscle recovery
If you’re recovering after a particularly gruelling day on the bike and need the full compression treatment, consider opting for some thigh-high compression stockings, or footless leg-sleeves like these. They offer graduated 20-30 mmHg support to your calves and quads, helping to boost the circulation in your legs to reduce muscle fatigue and prevent injury.
If you frequently experience leg cramping, shin splints, muscle soreness or swelling after pushing your limits, these are a great addition to your rest-day routine.
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