Compression gear has become extremely popular in today’s fitness scene. The idea behind them is that by compressing your muscles, there will be an increase in blood flow to those areas, resulting in less soreness and fatigue. With more blood flow, the tissue broken down from doing cardio or strength-training activities is able to repair itself much more quickly. Essentially, the sole purpose of compression gear is to help your muscles recover better after applying stress to it. I would like to emphasize that because people often get this mixed up with the gear providing them better performance. While compression gear can make you feel more comfortable when you exercise or play a game, there is no scientific evidence that suggests it boosts performance. Still, compression technology is great because the gear is relatively cheap and still adds a bit of fashion while you run or play.
Compression socks are coming up in trends for runners. It’s a great trend, honestly, because before compression socks, we had (and still have) compression pants. But those can feel restricting and suffocating when running, especially since our heart beats are already elevated and bodily temperatures rise. Also, in warm weather areas, wearing compression pants underneath a pair of shorts is the last thing some people may want to do. Compression socks for running, on the other hand, only reach up to the knee but still cover the calf muscles. They don’t restrict running movement at all. While they do not completely allow your skin to breath, I do feel a lot more free with them on over compression pants. If you have ever worn soccer socks, they feel a lot like putting those on. Another note to point out is that you want compression socks that are graduated, meaning the compression is looser at the top of the sock and tighter toward the bottom. This is important, first of all, because blood flow in your muscles has to enter and exit from somewhere, and a looser fit closest to your heart most efficiently allows that. Also, a graduated pair of compression socks means more breathing room for you, allowing a freer motion while running.
Today’s post will highlight a select few compression socks I have used. I go for a jog almost every morning, so I needed a few socks to wear out each day. Plus, they were fairly cheap, weighing the benefits vs. the cost, and so I bought a few different pairs at one time so I could try different styles and technologies. Here is my list of the three best cheap pairs of compression socks.
Best Compression Socks for Running:
Physix Gear Sport
Physix Gear Sport’s compression socks is going to be my first choice for running if I was looking for my first pair again. They have been in the game for so long and have evolved their technology many times before coming to their current best-selling product.
The product, like many compression socks you will find online, is advertised for use not only for running or any other activities involving cardio, but for health concerns such as blood clots after surgery or for general blood circulation unrelated to exercise, like if you are pregnant or you will be sustaining many hours without movement. I have no experience using the socks for the latter reasons as I bought them mainly for jogging in the mornings. They work perfectly for that, as I have experienced less recovery time needed in my old age. These were the socks I used the most and I found my calf cramps are almost completely non-existent now. That can be credited to many compression socks, but I find that the Physix Gear Sport pair to be the most comfortable, durable, and effective.
The material quality is outstanding as well. Some of the cheaper compression socks I have tried (I had bought a pair off eBay and one from Walmart), which I have not listed as they are not anywhere close to the tier these three are, have numerous issues with their build. Some of the materials would just flat out tear apart or stretch beyond repair or usability, while others had problems regarding stitches, where is would rub on my calf as I run, resulting in a highly uncomfortable experience. The pair I bought from Walmart also was not a graduated pair, so it was a tight fit all the way through, even close to my knee. While some may prefer that, I would lean toward a majority of people feeling uncomfortable with that design, since blood flow can get restricted and movement is going to be limited. The socks from Physix Gear Sport had no issues with its quality. The material was well-made and feels supportive enough for my ankles, calves, and toes. It actually felt smooth to put on as well.
In all, if anything, I would buy these as my first option without a doubt.
A-Swift comes as second place for the best pair of running compression socks. It has graduated compression (from 20 up to 30 mmHg as it gets lower) technology for more efficient blood flow, while allowing a higher range of motion for running. The fabric used is outstanding, as sweat is mostly wicked away and does not pile up over the course of my runs. The fabric is also quite comfortable and not rough, unlike many of the cheaper and low-quality copies out there. Some of the designs are questionable in my opinion, though they can be good if you are using compression socks for other reasons. Fortunately, A-Swift has some simpler versions available, like the all-black pair (which was the one I got).
The main reason I would recommend this if I were to only buy one pair is that it is the cheapest on this list. Prices can change of course, but price history trackers have shown A-Swift’s compression socks to be consistently cheaper than Physix Gear Sport’s. There will be debates on which brand to get. Overall, I’d stick with Physix’ pair, but A-Swift’s is a close second, comes cheaper, and has all the qualities a good pair of compression socks should have.
Bonus: Nike Elite Over-The-Calf Compression
Heads up budget people, this pair by no means falls under “budget compression socks”, but among many pairs of socks, it was one of the best. I still prefer Physix Gear Sport’s pair, but for fans of Nike and their products, I had to include it. The Nike Elite series is extremely popular, mainly in mainstream sports like basketball and football. But people often overlook their over-the-calf compression gear. These socks were designed specifically for running and they include the trademark Dri-Fit fabric, for moisture and sweat wicking, that we know and love.
The structure is well built as well, with the sock staying in place even after a 0.5-1 mile jog. It is complete with mesh ventilation and I feel the quality of the materials is definitely there. Also, the simplistic design with the Nike logo makes for sensible fashion while running, jogging, or hiking.
Here are the material percentages, per Nike, for reference:
- 61% polyester
- 29% nylon
- 10% spandex