Compression stockings in sports?

Compression also supports in grassroots sports.

For years, it has been observed that more and more recreational athletes attach importance to professional and functional sports equipment.

Hardly any cyclist who is not in a tight-fitting brand jersey and compression stockings – the urge for functionality has long since stopped even before Sunday trips by entire families. There are sports in which functional and professional equipment is essential, such as climbing or skiing. But what about grassroots sport?

Cep compression stockings worn while jogging


Compression stockings a fashion gag or functional product?

Of course, you can do sports without investing much in equipment – African professional runners, for example, have trained barefoot throughout their entire childhood, and running without a shoe is becoming increasingly popular in this country as well. Orthopaedists should be thrilled.

For a long time now, only the lonely jogger, who was pulling his rounds, seemed relatively immune to the fashion diktat. If anything, the right shoe was essential – the rest seemed fashionable. Many years after the sneaker-sock trend swept across from the US to Europe, almost everyone wore these sports socks that disappeared in the shoe. Until suddenly grown men exchanged these for tight-fitting knee socks.

I can’t deny that the combination of shorts and knee socks takes a bit of getting used to for my eye. At Oktoberfest and in football, this is a fait accompli, but at the sight of such a best-hulled jogger, one quickly feels reminded of the outfits of the goalkeepers and decathletes from the 70s – and is glad that the shorts in the Bundesliga nowadays are a little longer. Fans of retro design may see it differently.

So if you can practice sports like running, cycling, football etc. without much frills, then the question is, why do you need compression stockings? Why do you see more and more sports enthusiasts wearing the colorful calf dress? What can compression stockings do – and do they actually offer added value?

What are compression stockings?

Many people associate the term hospitalization and the risk of thrombosis. If you have had to lie down for a long time after an operation, you may have made acquaintance with heparin syringes and the white opaque leg dresses. Or have heard that this garment is recommended for long car journeys or long-haul flights. The latter application refers to the origin of all compression clothing: the development in space travel.

What is the difference, support stocking or compression stocking?

Orthopaedic stockings, commonly used in the common language also called somewhat unclean support stockings, are available in different lengths and materials. Unclean because there is a difference between support stockings and compression stockings: Support stockings are used for prevention and are not subject to standardized specifications, they can be easily integrated into the everyday wardrobe without being noticed.
The production of compression stockings, on the other hand, is based on European compression standards and is subject to regular testing.

The compression comes from the material

The fabric, or knitted, of the medical compression stockings is denser and more expensive in fabrication, which is also noticeable in the purchase. They are used in the health sector in the context of various diagnoses and must have a two-pull quality, which means that they must be longitudinal and transverse elastic. Both variants are produced seamlessly and mostly in circular knitting and sit very tightly on the leg due to the material and the way they are woven. Compression, i.e. the compression of the leg, has various physiological effects that can be used in medicine as well as in sports.

In the following paragraphs, the term compression stockings is handled somewhat casually to describe both support stockings and medical stockings. Where distinction is important, the correct names are used.

How compression stockings work

The mode of action of compression stockings can be explained as follows: Due to their tight seat on the leg, they exert pressure on the enclosed tissue and thus also on your muscles. The pressure, which decreases from the bottom up, squeezes your veins and allows the blood to be pumped more effectively from the legs towards the heart. Medical compression stockings are often used and recommended for vein sprains, varicose veins, for the prevention of thrombosis or even only for heavy and tired legs. They are produced in different pressure or compression classes.

In this article, however, the main focus is on the use of compression stockings for athletes. This does not rule out the possibility that there may be a medical indication for wearing the stockings at the same time: if, for example, you suffer from a diagnosed vein weakness, you can also have the stockings prescribed by a doctor. The health insurance companies regularly cover the majority of the acquisition costs.

Sports and compression stockings
The positive effect of compression stockings in sports.

In general, the following arguments for wearing compression stockings in a broader sense are given:

  • Minimization of the risk of thrombosis
  • Better blood flow
  • Therapeutic effect in varicose veins and connective tissue weakness
  • Improved oxygen supply
  • Less fluid deposition in the tissue
  • Stabilization of muscles
  • Stabilization of the ankle, thereby reduced risk of injury
  • Support for the Achilles tendon
  • Accelerated lactate degradation
  • Due to the seamless processing protection against pressure points and bubbles

As you can read, compression stockings are said to have many good properties.

Who can wear compression stockings.

In principle, anyone can wear compression stockingsas long as there is no contraindication. This topic is examined in more detail in the following paragraph.

The first thing to do is to ask when the stockings should generally be worn: in case of vein diseases, poor or deficient blood circulation to the legs, weakness of the connective tissue, the risk of thrombosis – for example due to the intake of medication – and washed up legs. Either you reach prophylactic to support stockings or let you prescribe orthopaedic special stockings in case of problems that have already occurred. By means of a so-called phlebography, it is possible to determine whether the blood flow in the veins is disturbed or impaired by means of a contrast agent. Pregnant women can also wear support stockings if painful fluid retention occurs hormonally, especially in the lower limbs.

The range ranges from knee socks to strapless stockings to tights. It is very important to have your legs accurately measured for the right fit size. In general, the measurement should only take place in the early morning, as legs swell over the course of a day; a badly seated stocking can cause pain while a too loose sitting can not have the full effect.

Even without medical indications, you can of course incorporate compression stockings into your everyday sports at any time. Since most recreational sports most often use the lower leg muscles, knee socks are the most popular product. If you have problems with the thigh muscles, you can also wear tubes, a kind of cuff for the thigh. This type of compression should be particularly interesting for endurance athletes such as triathletes and marathon runners.

For whom are compression stockings unsuitable?

If you suffer from circulatory disorders of the arteries or from heart or heart muscle weakness, you are generally not allowed to wear support or compression stockings. People who have skin diseases that cause secretions or wetting eczema are also discouraged from using stockings.

As a diabetic, you should also urgently consult with your doctor, because if you are diagnosed with polyneuropathy, a damage to the peripheral nerves, you must refrain from wearing support or compression stockings. If this indication is not present, you can use stockings in a low pressure range after consultation with the doctor.

Why wear compression stumps while playing sports?

Due to the listed positive characteristics, compression stockings are becoming increasingly popular with active people from a wide variety of sports. Due to the gentle pressure on the stressed muscles, there is an improved blood circulation, ergo also to an improved condition. Another plus point is that the risk of fatigue and injury can be reduced.

It is often said that compression stockings can have a performance-enhancing effect in certain sports. Athletes who have undergone a self-test, for example, report time improvements, for example during marathons and shorter recovery phases. It is undisputed that due to improved blood circulation, an increased supply of nutrients to the muscle takes place.

Now one could come up with the idea that this sports utensil is therefore mainly suitable for competitive athletes who try to improve their best performances in the seconds range. This is not the case, even as a recreational athlete you can benefit from the described effects. Ultimately, however, you have to find out for yourself whether training successes occur with compression stockings or maybe just a new feeling of well-being.

Use in the active recovery phase

The so-called recovery socks are particularly suitable in the regeneration phase, for example to prevent muscle soreness and calf cramps. If you have worn high compression stockings during sports, you should switch to a slightly less tight stocking during the regeneration phase.

Swimmers can also benefit from light compression to get down outside the pool. At rest, a slight compression (rest pressure) causes an improved regeneration of the stressed muscle: better act in conjunction with muscle activity (working pressure). Of course, the compression effect can be used even during warm-up.

What kind of compression stockings suits me?

In addition to medical device manufacturers, a number of companies are involved in the production of trendy and colourful compression stockings for the leisure sector. Just as with other functional clothing, personal taste determines the choice of the product. Stockings are available in all price ranges – from cheap offers at Tchibo to high-tech textiles from selected manufacturers such as CEP, Adidas and O-motion.

The sports stockings, similar to the medical version, are offered in different compression strengths. So if you practice a sport that has only a slight to medium intensity, such as hiking or Nordic walking, you can choose a model with lower compression. Sports goods manufacturers also sell models for daily use in the office, on long-haul flights or long car journeys. It is best to go to a well-stocked medical centre before buying the first couple to get comprehensive advice and survey.

What do health experts say?

In the meantime, there are some studies on whether compression stockings have demonstrable added value. Of course, there will always be critical voices who are generally opposed to such equipment from the outset, or who blame a placebo effect for improved training results.

According to a study by the Institute of Applied Training Science, Department of Sports Medicine at the University of Leipzig, “the protective effect of medical compression stockings on venous function, blood circulation and oxygen supply is considered scientific secured.” Researchers from the Hohenstein Institute announced in a press release in 2012 that compression textiles worn during sports led to accelerated muscle recovery.

They also found that wearing stockings could have positive effects even after active exercise by “reducing stress-related muscle pain and swelling, or by restoring the body’s sprinting and bounce ability more quickly. can be produced”.

How do you put on compression stockings properly so they don’t break?

Exercise makes the master. The mostly thinner medical textiles for everyday use are more sensitive than the more robust sports stockings. Therefore, there are so-called plastic dress gloves – they are a little reminiscent of cleaning gloves, with the difference that they have small bumps on the inside of the palm. There is also a dressing aid that resembles a scaffold: the stocking is stretched over a bracket and stretched in such a way that you can climb into a boot from above.

Finally, the so-called EasyRing is to be mentioned; the stockings are rolled up ona plastic ring, which should have a slightly larger diameter than the calf at the widest point, and can then be easily rolled off. Most sports stockings are comparatively easy to put on, you don’t need special aids for them. However, at first you may feel like you want to force yourself into something that is too small for many sizes.

You get used to it. Women are very familiar with this problem, provided they have already taken a bodice; at the sight of the laundry piece in supposed child size, one is convinced to face an unsuspecting or sadistic saleswoman. The truth is that you can’t be guided by common sense when you buy any compression clothing – sizes that look appropriate will thwart the desired success from the start! Good and expert advice is essential.

Washing and maintaining compression stockings

Most compression stockings can be easily washed in the washing machine at 30-40° with a fine detergent, but you must avoid softeners. Some manufacturers also recommend hand washing with lukewarm water so as not to damage the material. Again, you should use a mild detergent and not wrine the stockings, as this can cause damage to the fabric. Caution should be exercised when using a tumble dryer. Otherwise, the same applies to goods specially produced for sport as to other functional clothing – wash after wearing according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Simple support stockings hold a maximum of 90 washes on average. Medical compression stockings, on the other hand, are more resistant due to the stronger yarn and the more complex processing and hold an average of about 180 washes. So it can be said that they should be replaced every 5-6 months. As a rule, health insurance companies only approve a new couple every 6 months. In the case of sports stockings, it depends on the intensity of wearing and the frequency of washing. As a rule of thumb, compression textiles must be replaced if you can put them on without much effort, so the fabric is emptied.

Compression stockings by CEP

CEP is one of the most well-known German manufacturers of compression stockings, which are sold worldwide and enjoy the highest popularity. They are specially adapted to the requirements of different sports, and a well thought-out range offers the right product for everyone. Behind CEP is medi, a medical device manufacturer that has been active for 60 years and is also successfully involved in the sports and fashion sectors. Sophisticated medical know-how and many years of experience are thus incorporated into the sports stockings of this brand. In addition to the CEP sports socks with the ITEM m6 series, the wide range also includes a range of trendy and everyday stockings and tights for men and women.

As a conclusion to compression stockings in sport, it can be said that:

Compression stockings can be a useful addition to your sporting activity. Whether you use them before, during or after the sport, here’s a look at studying. However, endurance athletes are likely to benefit most from the compression effect. The products for the leisure sector manufactured and distributed by CEP are extremely diverse and are based on decades of expertise in the field of leg prosthetics. In the online shop you will find short socks, knee socks, shorts, shirts and much more about functional sportswear. For this purpose, the site provides a practical online tool to determine the optimal fit for all products. This is and will remain the be-all and end-all of compression textiles.

Image source: flickr

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