Running and Compression

Posted by Shannon on Jun 3rd 2024

JUNE 4, 2024

Running and Compression

Uncover the principles of true gradient compression for runners. Learn how it can optimize your running experience, enhance your performance and speed up your post-race recovery.

Famale running

Runners have long looked for methods for enhancing their speed, endurance, and performance. From routines like getting adequate sleep and cross-training to dietary supplements and electrolyte drinks and gels, all runners have their preferences.

Gradient compression socks provide a natural solution for runners and other fitness enthusiasts alike. Gradient compression improves blood flow, which in turn helps to reduce swelling and energizes your legs

Gradient Compression for Vein Health

True gradient compression has the greatest amount of pressure at the ankle and decreases as it moves toward the knee. This gradual decrease in pressure encourages blood to flow back toward the heart counteracting the effects of gravity. The muscle in the calf mimics the actions of the heart squeezing the veins and pushing the blood up. The additional pressure from gradient compression enhances the calf’s efforts. The increase in blood flow improves vein health and oxygenation throughout the body.

Gradient compression has long been used for treating vein conditions, such as varicose vein, venous insufficiency, and deep vein thrombosis. Improved circulation helps to prevent blood clots, reduce swelling, inflammation and muscle pain.

Compression is measured by units known as millimeters of mercury, abbreviated as mmHg. The higher the millimeters of mercury present, the more pressure exists in the sock. Therafirm’s gradient compression socks and hosiery are divided into four different compression levels: light compression or 10–15mmHg; mild compression or 15–20mmHg; moderate compression or 20–30mmHg; and firm compression or 30–40mmHg.

Athlete wearing TheraSport Athletic Compression Socks in White

The Difference Between Gradient Compression and Regular Compression

Many athletes use all-over compression to enhance their workouts. While this type of compression does provide athletic benefit, it is not the same as true gradient compression. All-over compression provides the same amount of pressure throughout the whole garment, unlike the gradual decrease in pressure experienced in true gradient compression. All-over compression helps to reduce muscle vibration and provides support and protection for the muscles, which is helpful for athletes, but doesn’t increase oxygen levels in the same way.

Gradient Compression for Recovery After Running

The attractive principle for runners when it comes to gradient compression is the natural reduction of swelling, inflammation, and muscle pain. When runners wear a pair of compression socks after a run, it helps their muscles to recover faster. The increase in oxygen in the muscles acts as an anti-inflammatory and boosts healing. More oxygen will also help to break down lactic acid that builds up during athletic activity. A breakdown of lactic acid reduces the amount of soreness one feels after a strenuous race.

Gradient Compression for Performance

An increase in oxygen in the muscles doesn’t just help a runner with recovery post-workout. Many experience an increased ability to push harder and faster and to endure longer and further due to the increase in oxygen in the muscles. The extra energy that you feel from wearing compression will reduce the amount of tiredness and exhaustion that you feel in the middle of your race or workout.

Athlete wearing TheraSport Athletic Compression Socks in Red

What Level of Compression Should Runners Wear?

Our highest level of compression—Firm or 30–40mmHg—is usually used by patients who are experiencing serious or severe vein disease and not typically used by athletes. The lightest level—Light or 10–15mmHg—doesn’t provide enough for most serious athletes. The majority of runners choose the middle compression levels—both Mild and Moderate—to achieve their desired results. Choose the higher level for performance and the lower level for recovery.

Summing It Up

Wearing true gradient compression for runners provides a natural enhancement and recovery. But, you don’t have to give up the other tools that you know. Getting adequate amounts of sleep, drinking plenty of water, replenishing electrolytes, and practicing proper warm ups and stretching are also important to keep in your regimen.

On your mark, get set, go!

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Compression products should not be worn and are contraindicated if you have any of the following conditions: Severe arterial insufficiency, cutaneous infections, acute dermatitis, wet dermatosis, uncontrolled congestive heart failure, skin irritations, allergies to dyes.

This is only general information and is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Always consult your physician or other health care provider about all health concerns, conditions, and recommended treatments.


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Therafirm®, Core-Spun by Therafirm®, Ease by Therafirm®, TheraSport by Therafirm®, Core-Sport by Therafirm®, Preggers® by Therafirm®, SmartKnit®, SmartKnitKIDS®, and Knit-Rite Direct® are all brands of Knit-Rite, LLC.

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This is general information and not intended to diagnose or treat patients. It is the provider's responsibility to ascertain the appropriateness of individual applications of compression therapy. Patients should always consult with their provider prior to wearing compression products.