Compression socks, knee socks, or whatever else you call them, are used by runners, airlines passengers attempting to prevent deep vein thrombosis, people with lower leg and foot injuries, and of course, CrossFit athletes. There’s plenty of evidence of the positive effects of wearing compression socks on athletic performance. Some people believe that this relatively new addition to the world of sports performance clothing is an essential piece of protective equipment for CrossFit. But do they help improve your workout? And if so, what are the best pairs to buy? That’s what we’ll explore in this article.
First of All, What Are the Compression Socks?
Compression socks are a specialized garment or hosiery that run from your feet all the way up just below your knees. They’re typically made from stretchy materials to provide snug-fit support to athletes. The majority of models provide consistent pressure along their length. The reported benefits for the wearer include enhanced circulation, muscle support, and resistance to fatigue.
A type of compression sock called “graduated socks” offer a different experience. They start loose under the knees and gradually build up the pressure until they reach their highest at the ankles.
And if you don’t want your feet included in the socks, you can go for compression sleeves that encircle the shins only.
How Would They Improve Your Workout?
While compression socks look pretty cool, we wouldn’t buy a pair merely for the looks. But the potential benefits for CrossFitters in terms of performance make a compelling argument for wearing them. Here’s how they can improve your workout:
Your arteries carry blood to every part of your body through pressure exerted from the heart. Your veins are responsible for carrying low-oxygen blood with metabolic waste from the cells back to the heart. Veins must push blood against gravity (unlike arteries), and this is particularly true in the legs. Veins depend on muscle contraction to force blood around the body. This is one reason why elderly people are advised to move regularly.
Moving, which happens through the contraction of muscles, helps people avoid the problem of blood pooling in their legs.
Compression socks increase the pressure exerted by your muscles. They enhance the uptake of blood by your veins, which subsequently encourages more blood to flow.
During a workout, nutrients used by your legs muscles for movement are transformed into organic waste. This waste is received back into the blood. Pain mediators, chemicals that stimulate your nerves to feel pain and fatigue, are suppressed thanks to the improved circulation. Less pain, more workout. But it's worth keeping in mind that you'll probably experience a more profound DOMS effect.
They Protect Your Shins
We’ve all been there. Smacking the bar off your shins during deadlifts, or banging into the wooden box during box jumps is painful (or at least uncomfortable) and might end your workout before its time.
One solution is to wear long pants, preferably ones with some padding around the shin area. But if you prefer working out in shorts, compression socks can double as skin protectors for the lower leg. Choose socks made from high quality materials (from trustworthy brands) to decrease the likelihood of friction, scraping, and bleeding.
This is especially important for all the CrossFit girls out there. Now you can enjoy the endless benefits of CrossFit and maintain your gorgeous legs!
They Support Your Muscles
Just like any other compression garment, these snug-fitting, workout-enhancing socks give you a sense of security. They make you feel as if you’re cemented to the ground. It’s just a psychological trick, but just like motivational speeches, and pre-workout rituals, this has the potential to boost your workout intensity level. You’ll be able to confidently push harder and stronger.
What Constitutes a Perfect Pair of Compression Socks?
The best compression socks have excellent moisture wicking. The material should pick up your sweat and then quickly dry. This makes the workout more comfortable. And bacteria won’t have a chance to create those nasty odors we’ve all experienced in the gym.
Choose the tightest fit. If you have to keep pulling up your socks, you’ve chosen a size (or more) too big. Good quality socks should also maintain their “stretchiness”. Of course, it’s hard to know which socks will stay “stretchy” before you buy them. Testing is the only sure-fire way of finding this out. But by choosing a reputable brand, you have a testing safety net for buying the best socks for you. And that leads us on to which products to choose.
The Compression Socks That We Recommend
When it comes to apparel for CrossFit, two names stand out: Reebok and Rogue. One of the best-known and respected brands in the fitness equipment and apparel world, Rogue Fitness, ticks all the boxes for us. We love their stuff, we wear it ourselves, and we recommend the Rogue line of socks as a great first-buy. I’m betting it will also be your second and third purchase too. Here are two options:
Rogue Compression Socks
These socks rock thanks to the fancy pants, but super practical and sturdy fiber called Olefin. Olefin fiber has excellent moisture-wicking properties, high abrasion resistance, and ultimately low weight. Moreover, Olefin is kinder to the environment thanks to its low-waste manufacturing process. It’s also built from organic compounds, which improves its recyclability. Thumbs up, all the way.
These socks only come in black and in four sizes. There’s a big Rogue logo printed in vivid red on the side. For some people, this might be a negative, but we think it looks cool.
This sock is expensive compared to its alternatives (albeit lower quality alternatives). But the high durability and quality makes the price worth every penny. Forget those socks that easily tear after a couple of months. Unless you’re running on hot coals or you’re wearing sandpaper in your shoes, these socks will serve you well.
To Sum Up
Should you buy compression socks for Crossfit? Well, as always, that depends. But we can see that thanks to the ability of these socks to support your muscles, enhance your vascularity, postpone fatigue, and protect your shins, they seem to be an essential piece of kit.
CrossFit fan. Ex-personal trainer, triathlete, and cross-country mountain biker. Masters Competitive CrossFit athlete. Writer and blogger.