Will long socks help heal my calves?

The miles are starting to take their toll. My calves are as tight as a piglet’s arse. It can take up to three miles before they start to loosen up on a run. Because last week was recovery week, most of my runs were no longer than five or so miles (the longest was nine). That means most of my miles were rather uncomfortable. So I skipped one run and have been rolling them at every opportunity.

I’m about to enter week nine of training for June’s Marathon des Cote and am due to do somewhere around 50 miles, many of them on hills (see below). I can’t avoid the hills, as the MdC involves some true horrors (September’s Snowdonia Ultra 100, will be even more challenging), so I need to find a way of making those long ascents less punishing on the calves.

Will long socks help heal my calves?


Will long socks help heal my calves?

The science, like opinions on my choice of sock, is split. I’ve been told I look like Wonder Woman in my rather fetching stars & stripes over the calf Stance socks (see below). I like to think I’m more Captain America meets Peter Fonda in Easy Rider (am I kidding myself? See the below tweet!).

Apparently, most sports scientists agree that lower leg compression after exercise aids the flow of blood from the lower legs and therefore speeds the removal of byproducts, and so mitigates the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness. But there is still some debate over the effectiveness of calve compression during exercise, both in terms of reducing muscle damage and enhancing performance.

I’m not a sports scientist (see my disclaimer below), so I can only go on the limited time I’ve had to read up on this and my own and others’ experiences. Paula Radcliffe wore compression socks, and they clearly didn’t do her any harm. Now, I’m built for comfort not for speed, so I know a pair of socks is never going to get me to the front of the pack, but I’m sure they’ve helped save my calves in some of my longer, hillier runs.

I wore them for last year’s Isle of Wight Ultra and Man V Horse, for example. The pair I wore for the latter have never been the same since (see above). And, given that the MdC involves 60 plus miles a day for three days, I will be wearing them in June and in the months building up to then too.

And even if they won’t help heal my calves, they’ll at least help keep them warm. Snow is forecast this week.

Disclaimer: I have no medical training. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, a physio or a sports therapist; I doubt they’d even give me job handing out oranges at half time of a football match. I am just a type-one diabetic and former fat bloke with a stupid idea. This blog is my account of following that idea to its conclusion. Do not attempt anything similar without seeking prior medical (and psychiatric) advice.

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