Earlier this year I was introduced to the benefits of wearing compression gear during runs. After being a runner for 15 years, you would think that I would have known about some of this stuff already, but what can I say? I’m a bit slow….
About a month ago, Steven Saepan from TIUX offered to send me a free pair of Compression Socks to Review. And even though I loved them, I was left with a bit of a dilemma when it came to actually writing my review of them. You see, I’ve already posted about the benefits of compression gear for runners twice in the last few months. I didn’t want to write the same post three times.
If you’re not already familiar with the benefits, I put a condensed list below. Feel free to go back and read my earlier posts if you want more details. In general though:
- Compression helps to push de-oxygenated blood from your muscles through your veins and back to your heart more quickly.
- It also helps to dilate your arteries so that oxygen rich blood can flow from your heart to your muscles more efficiently.
- Lastly, it helps to stabilize your muscles, which decreases fatigue and muscle soreness.
- So overall, compression helps your leg muscles to perform better for longer periods of time without feeling as sore afterwards.
For this post, I figured I would take a slightly different angle and talk about another scenario where compression can be beneficial: If you travel for a lot of races, my suggestion is to get a pair of compression socks and wear them during your flights in addition to wearing them during the races themselves.
I’ll explain why in a minute. Before I do though, here’s a science experiment that I’d like you to try on your next flight:
- Buy a bottle of water in the airport (after you get through security of course).
- Drink about half of the water in the bottle, seal it back up and then bring it on the plane with you.
- When the plane reaches its cruising altitude, pick up the bottle and try to squeeze it. It will be hard. Now open it. You’ll hear it fizz while the air rushes out of it. Seal it back up.
- When the plane lands, look at the water bottle again. It will have collapsed in on itself.
Air is compressible. It stacks up on top itself and creates pressure depending on how much air is above it. So air that’s closer to sea level takes up less space than air at higher altitudes, which is why people say that air is ‘thinner’ up in the mountains. In our case, as the plane ascends, the pressure of the air that was trapped inside the bottle at the lower altitude will start to increase compared to the air on the outside. This causes it to push out and expand the bottle. When the plane descends, we can see the opposite effect: the air pressure that was trapped inside the bottle at the higher altitude will start to decrease compared to the air on the outside. This causes it to pull in and contract the bottle.
Since the purpose of your circulatory system is to ensure that oxygen gets to your muscles, this same process also happens inside of your veins and arteries every time you fly (albeit on a much smaller scale so it isn’t as obvious). Have you ever gotten off of a flight and noticed that your legs feel a bit stiff and tired? That’s not just from sitting for extended periods of time. It’s also partially because of your circulatory system expanding and contracting at different altitudes during the flight. Wearing compression socks on flights will help fix this in much the same way that they help during races: they help keep your veins and arteries dilated so blood can flow to and from your heart more efficiently as the air pressure around your body changes. So even if you don’t like to wear compression gear while you run (or even if you’re not a runner at all), there’s still a benefit to wearing it during flights.
So what about the TIUX compression socks themselves? Over the last few weeks I’ve tested them during a number of training runs. I also wore them during the Race of the Dead 5K on Halloween and, during the Outer Banks 8K a week later. And prior to running in the Outer Banks, I wore them on my flight from Chicago to North Carolina.
The socks feel snug but comfortable. In the past, I’ve tried compression gear that’s been so tight that it felt like my clothes had a death grip on my calf muscles and I’ve also tried gear that was too loose and baggy. My TIUX socks seemed to be just the right size though. They also look great. Mine are black and green but they come in a variety of colors.
My legs felt great after I got off the plane and the finishing times in both races where I wore my TIUX compression socks were among my best all year at those distances. I also noticed that after running the 8K in the Outer Banks on Saturday, I was able to run a Half Marathon the following day and my legs didn’t feel sore. I think the socks had a lot to do with this.
TIUX Compression Socks are definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for some new compression gear. If you’re interested in trying them out, you can get a 10% discount through the end of 2015 if you follow this link.