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May 2012

Sporty Compression Socks: To Wear or Not to Wear?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Dermatology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(5):656-657. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2012.198

Watch any marathon or triathlon, and you will see knee-high stockings you thought were reserved for vasculopaths and pregnant women (Figure). “Compression sportswear” appears to be the latest twist on the beloved compression stocking. TheNew York Times first reported the trend in 2008, when they wrote that 415 of the 1677 competitors in the Ford Ironman World Championship looked “a bit like cheerleaders or tourists with knee-high socks on.”1(pE10) Sporty compression socks have been touted to have benefits similar to compression stockings used to treat venous insufficiency. They reportedly engage the calf muscle pump, leading to an increase in venous flow out of the leg, thereby improving athletic performance. Two recent studies by a group in New Zealand2,3 have attempted to investigate whether there is any objective data to support their efficacy.