The Benefits of Compression Socks for (Racing) Cyclists and Mountain Bikers
Until a few years ago, compression socks were mainly used when running. However, compression socks are becoming increasingly popular amongst cyclists and mountain bikers. And when you look at the benefits of compression socks, you quickly understand why.
Compression socks can help you recover faster, reduce sore muscles and improve your performance while exercising. On top of that, they help prevent injuries. But how do compression socks work and what’s in it for you?
The principal of compression socks is actually pretty straightforward. As the name suggests, a compression sock delivers compression. By keeping the calves under pressure – especially for cyclists – the body can recover faster.
Another benefit for racing cyclists and mountain bikers is that compression socks help prevent you from having cramps and tight calf muscles. And that’s exactly something almost every active sports cyclists suffers from.
But how do compression socks work? To know why you should wear compression socks as a cyclist, you first need to know what an intensive workout or race does to your muscles.
What does an intensive training do to your muscles?
Intensive exercise always results in muscle damage. This damage breaks down the cellular tissue. The remains of these cells lag behind in the intercellular space.
The remains of the cells consist of proteins. Many proteins in that intercellular space make it a lot harder for tissue fluid to be absorbed into the capillaries.
The result of that is that you retain fluid. Subsequently, the fluid in turn causes poor blood circulation. Nutrients and oxygen are then no longer supplied properly and lactic acid is being discharged more poorly.
This ensures that the proteins don’t get stuck in the intercellular space anymore. So if you look at it roughly, your waste substances are squeezed out of your muscles.
The pressure of compressions socks is highest around the ankle and runs more and more towards your knee. This decreasing pressure is important, because it ensures that the blood in your veins is drained even better.
But compressions socks offer more than just improving the elimination of toxins and the supply of oxygen and nutrients. They stimulate your recovery.
Compression socks patch up your muscles
We mentioned earlier that muscle damage arises when you have completed an intense training or race. The muscle damage consists of countless little tears, and is therefore actually a wound.
And what to do with these wounds? Right, you put a plaster on it to keep it covered. Compression stockings have the same effect as an adhesive plaster.
Due to the increased pressure, the ‘wounds’ are squeezed together. This stimulates and accelerates recovery of your muscles. Additionally, a proper healing will result in less scar tissue and that is of benefit to keep your muscles smooth.
Compression socks for travelling
For the reason that compression socks prevent fluid accumulation, a lot of athletes use them whilst travelling too. Because when you’re travelling, you mainly sit still and due to that you’re blood flow isn’t optimal.
If you wear compression socks during your travels, you stimulate the blood flow and you can even recover. Top athletes such as Anna van der Breggen, Marianne Vos and Koen de Kort all use compression socks for a better recovery and during their travels from race to race.
Your precise measurements are very important!
Can you go out and get yourself a pair of compression stockings for cyclists right away? Yes, but it is very important to properly measure the size of your legs.
Since it is important that the pressure runs from bottom to top, accurate size measurements of your legs are a must.
So the shape of your leg is very important to determine your size. If the compression stockings don’t fit properly, it could even be counterproductive.
Compression socks are a good addition
You could state that compression socks for cyclists are definitely worth it. It will surely benefit you if you often experience muscle problems or if you are training on a relatively high level.
Therefore, compression socks are an important element of your training and races. For cyclists, compression socks are especially useful for recovery and travelling.
2 thoughts on “The Benefits of Compression Socks for (Racing) Cyclists and Mountain Bikers”
I’m 71… And my heart rate seems to be elevating above the safe range on climbs or into the wind to 150… I’m supposed to run in 120 – 130bpm… when I ride… Will compression socks reduce my heart rate during a 10 mile run and up… Been riding for five years… Rode 70 miles on my 70th birthday on my cruiser bike in seven hours… Enjoy it… Cardiologist telling me I got a stop if I can’t get my heart rate down… I have terminal cancer and riding is my only escape… So again… Will compression socks reduce my heart rate during a ride… I really appreciate it straight medical type answer… thank you… Richard
I’m sorry to tell you, but I’m afraid compression socks will not do much for reducing your heart rate…
Compression socks mainly improve blood flow, and through that recovery. There’s no scientific evidence for heart rate reduction.
I sincerely hope you’ll find a way to keep riding!
Pelle | Mantel