Gotta Run: Compression socks? And an update on Japanese cyclists

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

Compression socks have been around for a long time for those who been bedridden for an extended period or had poor circulation. In large numbers, they are now showing up at races and just about anywhere that numerous runners gather. Running in brightly colored compression socks or calf sleeves has become a popular trend. For about a decade, some runners have worn them for mid-run performance and post-run recovery benefits.

Marketing says that compression socks promise a faster recovery time, decreased muscle fatigue and cramping prevention. The idea is that the slight and sometimes graduated (tighter at the bottom, lessening towards the knee) compression of the tightly woven fabric acts as a gentle massage to your muscles, squeezing veins and helping to promote and increase blood flow. With increased blood flow comes increased oxygen delivery to the muscles, which in theory assists with all of the promises mentioned above. Further, the compressive nature of the sock or sleeve can help support the muscle while preventing fatigue.

At least twice and possibly three times, I have had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clotting in the leg. Each time, I found the clotting to be very serious and somewhat of a surprise. Believe it or not, when flying on an airplane, athletes are more susceptible to DVT. Yet, I once had to convince my doctor of this. A combination of typically lower blood pressure and heart rate, combined with the possibility of dehydration (especially if traveling after a race or after a long bike ride), and sitting still for long periods of time as one does on a plane make the perfect scenario for a clot to form. I have read that wearing compression socks on your flight can help greatly minimize this risk by promoting blood flow to and from your lower extremities. All three of my clots came after long bike rides.

Compression socks can be used to do the following in the lower limbs according to medicine.com. They improve blood circulation in the legs, prevent pooling, leg swelling, ulcers and blood clots while reducing leg swelling,

While safe for most people, this article suggested consulting with your doctor to make sure of the proper size of compression socks needed. The socks shouldn’t be too tight or cause pain, and prolonged wearing of too-tight socks can cut off blood supply or even cause tissue death. They shouldn’t be used when a disease of the arteries is present, during heart failure or infections/inflammation of the skin.

I’m currently on a long bike ride and will have a 20-hour train ride home if all goes well. I’m considered wearing the socks for the first time ever.

Just before leaving on my current bike ride, I had a chance to talk by video from home with Kosuke Imani from Osaka, Japan. He and Masaya Hayshi stopped in Salisbury at the Hurley YMCA on the way to cycling the southern border of the U.S., just as I had the previous summer. When we first talked, Kosuke suggested that they would continue riding into Mexico once they reached California. They didn’t and returned home to Japan.

Kosuke mentioned the relentless heat and supply issues of the journey, but also mentioned BBQ, eating Mexican food, swimming and coasting down the last big mountain into San Diego after crossing the desert as favorite memories. He did have considerable bike trouble but completed the ride. He gave the bike to a stranger before boarding his flight back to Japan.

A social media advertiser, Kosuke wants to return to the U.S. for another trip soon. I’m sending him my Atlantic Coast and Transamerica ride books and suggested those to him for the next ride. Neither has any desert! Kosuke said, “I always miss the USA, its so scenic and we loved the last ride despite the trials.”

Look for the upcoming races and the fall Beginning Runners Class at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org.   

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