Compression Socks or Sleeves? Recommendations?


I've recently started 'feeling' my calf muscles a lot more, obviously linked to the increase in speedwork/mileage.

After deciding compression is the way forward and lots of reading I'm now totally confused as to whether I should get socks or sleeves.

Any advice/recommendations? There seems to be positives/negatives for both....




  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
    Compression socks are for your calves, sleeves are good for your arms. Which one is best? Depends which limb you want to put under unnatural pressure.
  • SJJSJJ ✭✭✭

    I meant compression sleeves for my calves

  • VDOT, there are many calf compression sleeves available.

  • Dave The Iron Ex- Spartan wrote (see)

    Pink ones 


    Nailed it. We're done here.

  • I also dithered over which to get........went for socks but found they really rubbed skin on my feet as fabric is harder than the nice comfy padded running socks I've got used got calf sleeves...much better, but ended up spending a fortune!

  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
    No sense of humour you lotimage

    Pink is only ok on the continent. Or is that incontinent...
  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    don't spend a fortune, keep you usual socks and buy

    in whatever colour you think best suits
  • SJJSJJ ✭✭✭
  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭

    sleeves!  compression socks are based on foot size...whereas with sleeves its based on calf size.

    oh and i have blue ones and the are faster than pink ones & green ones...but possibly slower than red ones.

  • anniesophie wrote (see)

    I also dithered over which to get........went for socks but found they really rubbed skin on my feet as fabric is harder than the nice comfy padded running socks I've got used got calf sleeves...much better, but ended up spending a fortune!

    Well, that's more buying bad socks, rather than socks in general, surely?

    (I have some really nice Smartwool mernino compression socks, which I picked up for a song from Sportpursuit, and also some calf sleeves.. I tend to use the socks more- and that's mostly when I am feeling cold/fragile.)

  • dont bother with will have to wash them every time you wear them and the sizing wont be right

     go for claf guards.....I love the compressport black of course to hide the mud........

  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
    I was going to call you all wusses but I wore gloves and a hat on my run earlier.
  • SJJSJJ ✭✭✭

    Thanks guys, sleeves it is. Been looking at the CEP ones, they seem to get good reviews...

  • VDOT52 wrote (see)
    I was going to call you all wusses but I wore gloves and a hat on my run earlier.

    How can you call someone who wears pink calf guards a wuss ?

  • Don't use sleeves - they're dangerous! Your heart's arterial pressure will succeed in pushing blood past the calf-sleeves into the feet, but the venous return from your feet will not be strong enough to push back because it isn't pumped - a bit like why your face will go red if someone tries to strangle you. After a while, your toes will either explode, or turn into tiny wee black puddings all in a row.

  • But it is pumped - the repeated contraction and relaxation of the calf muscles during running pumps the blood back towards the heart - it is unidirectional because the venous valves prevent back flow.

  • My calf muscles are not in my foot!

  • Oops I misread! Sorry. That said, the movement of the feet whilst running assists venous return as well. 

    I have done lots of compression bandaging using a doppler to locate pedal pulses and I would agree that compression from ankle to knee in a sedentary person is bad news - so tight calf sleeves on a sedentary person I would absolutely not recommend at all.

    The difference is surely that we are discussing people actively running; the feet are constantly moving and therefore there is no stasis?

  • Yeah, I was half-joking really, but I am still pretty sceptical. There is a reason why there are no compression sleeves for transatlantic flights, but active movement will surely reduce the foot problem. The whole idea is questionable for running, but having first accepted the idea of graduated pressure, why undermine it by leaving the foot as a place for blood to escape from the pressure, with no graduation or pressure at all on it?

  • Definitely no compression sleeves for transatlantic flights no…..due to being sedentary again - full foot compression. Same as for any lower limb medical problems requiring compression - always full foot for compression bandaging.

    All this said I don't use calf sleeves - so am not here to defend them; just this discussion has made me think!! To my mind it makes more sense to wear compression socks as you say as opposed to sleeves - apart from the blister argument of wearing full socks. I don't know; I had been pondering whether or not sleeves / socks might help me in some way which lead me to this thread!

  • SJJSJJ ✭✭✭

    Well, I'll keep you posted once they arrive and let you know if they make any difference...

  • I'd be interested to know, thanks.

  • The advantage of sleeves is you don't have to wash them as often. I mostly use socks for running and sleeves for recovery, although in my last race I had both on as I'd had a bit of a tight calf leading up to the race. I tore my calf last year and started using them then and they do help.

  • ZouseZouse ✭✭✭

    This thread has got me thinking. I'm a compression sock user, and have been since the days of having to stand up all day in my line of work. I now use them for running, when nursing a niggle, or when it is colder, (plus I'm a fan of the long sock).

    The calf sleeves to me sound like a handy band of compression that allows pooling of fluid below them i.e. ankles, and feet too (if uncompressed), resulting in a lovely swollen 'cankle'. 

    Does this not happen to calf sleeve wearers on long runs? I'd be interested to know.

    I had a quick google & found this:


  • Zouse,

    Tends not to, as you're active. The feet are in shoes and socks (usually!), and pounding the ground. As I recall the relevant blood vessels only allow flow in one direction, and the flow will be pretty strong. If you're not active, and you're using a compression sleeve on a non-elevated limb, however, maybe there's potential for an issue..

    They tend to start just under the knee and go right down pretty much to the top of the shoe, too, there won't be much cankle sticking out image

  • Interesting article Zouse, but I get the impression that the author is spending long periods of time on their feet, but not running, meaning that venous return won't be as efficient. Certainly food for thought and certainly advising that calf sleeves not be worn for recovery or flights makes perfect sense.


  • SJJSJJ ✭✭✭

    Ok, update on my compression sleeves...

    Well, I've worn them three times now, for a speedwork session, a regular 6 mile run and a LSR of 17 miles.

    First impressions very good, they fit well and I feel 'warm' in them - not sure that's a great benefit but my muscles definitely didn't feel as tight as they would normally afterwards.

    However, I'm not sure if this is because of the sleeves (it's a coincidence??) but I am now suffering from a sore IT band, this has never happened before...

    I did slack off last week and didn't use my roller after my sessions (I normally do religiously after each session), so I'm now thinking is it because of this? I'm now worried about using them again though!

    It really couldn't have happened at a worst time though, cross country season has started and a couple of half marathons in a few weeks, just as I was thinking about PB chasing, typical.


  • Tricky one SJJ. I'd be tempted to stop using them until your key races are done just in case!

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