How to Choose Compression Socks for Cycling

Out of many riding sports, cycling stands out the most because it shows the rider’s physical strength. Cycling is a recreative sport. It is most common among children and teenagers. But cycling among adults is intense and competitive. The gear required to keep you in shape changes with age. The bigger the competition gets, the better the gear requirement.

Most cyclists, professional or amateur, use specific cycling gear that helps them cycle better by absorbing their sweat and recovering their muscles. Professional bodybuilders use such gear made of similar materials for muscle recovery. Cyclists often cycle because it’s free transportation and a great workout, both at the same time. With increasing efforts towards becoming green to stop climate change, more people are opting for cycling. It is important to know and use proper equipment while cycling to avoid muscle fatigue and tear. The socks used for cycling are known as compression socks. They have immense benefits and uses in many sports, especially in gyms for muscle recovery.

Compression socks have been in use in the medical world long before they were introduced into the world of fitness and sports. They come with a lot of health benefits and are sought widely by many athletes across the globe. Today, numerous investigations are being carried out and published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and performance. The findings open new avenues for the use of compression socks for both health and performance. Here we will explore the compression socks in detail and move on to their relevance in cycling.

How do Compression socks look?

They look like your regular socks but with a tad of added thickness. They come in various colors, lengths, and sizes. Apart from the material they are made of, they are just a pair of your regular socks. They are made of elastic fibers or rubber, or a combination of both. They are made in various pressures for various purposes and utilities.

Compression socks cure various medical conditions, including edema, phlebitis, and other venous disorders. They support and soothe the legs of pregnant women and obese people. They help in circulating the blood. They cover the entire portion of your feet and legs, thereby giving them extra support. They absorb all the sweat and other metabolic activity in the muscles to keep them refreshed and less tired. They come in 5 styles.

  • Closed-toe Knee-high compression for men
  • Thigh-high (unisex)
  • CHAPS/ Waist attachment
  • Pantyhose
  • Pantyhose for maternity.

The names suggest that the knee-high has the highest pressure on the ankle area for improved movement performance. The thigh-high has the highest pressure on the knee area for reducing the load experienced by the knee. Other special socks are used for special purposes like pregnancy.

The greatest benefit of these socks is that they improve the blood circulation in the legs by correcting any venous disorders. You can always find the style, color, pressure, and size that suits you. For people interested in the principle behind these socks, search for the word “Compression Therapy.”

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Do Compression socks help cycling?

This is one of the questions that has been answered with evidence from the scientific community recently. The answer is yes! They help with any muscular activity, including cycling. The study of hemodynamic responses during consistent activity shows that compression socks improve the heart rate, performance, and aerobic metabolism of the muscles covered by the garment. They work on the compression theory as mentioned above. They balance the heart rate by reducing the venous pressure in the legs of the user. The pressure of the socks also plays an important role in improving performance. Apart from the scientific evidence, formulations, and calculations, the fact that they improve the performance has been proved physically.

Many physical experiments are conducted on athletes with varying pressures of compression socks. The performance improved with increasing pressure up to the pressure of 30 mmHg. Many cyclists use these socks when they have an uphill on their regular route.

Even though they were developed to cure irregular venous diseases, they have many other benefits. One of them is that they are safe to use. One doesn’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase them and use them. Many cyclists who use these socks can vouch that they can enhance their performance to a certain degree. They absorb the lactic acid that is produced by the lower parts of the human body under stress. The reason why socks smell after a few uses is the deposition of this acid. The fiber absorbs the lactic acid and helps your feet stay dry for a long time.

Should you wear Compression socks while cycling?

Firstly, the benefits of compression socks have been stressed enough in the sections mentioned above. They rectify any venous disorder you might have and balance heart rate by reducing the venous pressure. They absorb the lactic acid and remove any discomfort caused due to the wetting of the shoe during intense cycling. Studies show that periodic use of compression socks can improve your raw performance.

So, If you are looking for a boost in immediate or long-term performance, the answer would be yes, you should wear them during cycling. You can also wear them to improve your comfort levels during cycling. People who cycle as a part of their fitness plan or workout routine should wear them for health benefits. Wearing doesn’t mean you have to wear them continuously. If you feel uncomfortable, you can remove them for a portion of your exercise or cycling. They are very flexible to use with no repercussions or side effects.

You should wear them for their most discussed and researched benefit – muscle recovery. Compression garments are known to help muscles recover faster after a huge workout or a cycling trip. The complete understanding of the recovery, which is still under study, will be discussed in the next section. The knee-high socks are used for cycling and ankle exercises. They apply pressure on the ankle, thereby reducing fatigue and improving performance. If you are not sure whether you should wear socks or not, you can try them and then decide for yourself.

Compression socks cycling recovery! A myth or a proven fact?

Recent studies suggest that using compression garments after a workout or an intense session improves the muscle recovery rate of the part covered with the garment. Various tests conducted on the perceived muscle soreness and other enzymes indicating muscle damage and recovery were analyzed to find that compression garments help accelerate muscle recovery. Other common recovery methods include stretching, contrast bathing, massage, and active recovery, to name a few. Compression garments are the new addition to the above list. Muscle recovery is important to maintain your effectiveness during a competition.

The compressed garments and socks help the venous flow to enable blood flow to deep veins, thereby removing all the toxins and gases from the damaged muscles. Compressed socks work similar to active recovery but in a passive way. So, the compressive socks do help in muscle recovery, including cycling recovery.

It is not a myth but a proven fact. Many athletes, coaches, and sports organizations worldwide researched muscle recovery and compressed garments, concluding that compression socks help in muscle recovery similar to that of the active recovery method.

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What to consider when choosing compression socks for cycling?

There are a few important factors to be considered before choosing your compression socks for cycling. They follow below.

  • Your weight: It is essential in deciding the pressure of the compression socks you would want to buy because, with an increase in weight, the pressure suggested by the doctors and coaches is increased. An optimal pressure of 11 mmHg to 36 mmHg is recommended for cycling.
  • Intensity: The intensity of your cycling can also determine the pressure of compression socks you might want. The more intense your exercise, the lower the pressure should be compared to the pressure measured from other parameters.
  • Cycling Track: If your cycling track is filled with steep hills, you might want to go for medium pressure compression socks to give you the boost you need to finish your track and improve your recovery rate.
  • Colors: You can get any color you want that matches your bike color or jersey color. They are made pretty much in every color and many other color designs.
  • Cycling: The cycling activity needs pressure on the ankles. Getting knee-high would be your best choice to reap the best benefits of compression garments. As mentioned earlier, knee-high is designed to exert high pressure on the ankle to support and assist the ankle performance and recovery.

Your body weight and intensity of your cycling are the two most important factors that decide the pressure of your compressed garment, which in turn decide the best garment for cycling. Always get a knee-high for cycling.

You do not have to get a prescription or medical advice to get a compressed garment. You might want to get some expert advice on the pressure that suits you before getting the garment. Most companies maintain hassle-free return policies so that you can get a different pressure if you feel uncomfortable in the current pressure.

Closing Thoughts

The research into compression socks and compression garments is progressing rapidly. With the advancement in materials and fabrics, the compression garment industry will rise to new heights. Compressed socks help you improve your health and performance. Try them yourself to experience the performance hike, health benefits, and comfort offered by them. You can follow the research on them through the journal mentioned in the introduction.

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