Compression garments are certainly the in-thing at sporting events these days. I have been playing around with a few compression items over the past few years, mainly some compression tights and a short sleeve undershirt. I used the tights for recovery, and sleeping in – although I was just as likely to use them as thermal underwear in cold climates. The undershirt was a little different. I used it for marathon races that had a cold start, plus it offered shoulder support to help maintain posture. I was never in the habit of using them all the time though. Whether it was awkward or I didn’t see the efficacy, it just didn’t happen. Perhaps pulling highly restrictive tights on in a dirt and gravel carpark was just too hard to be bothered with. Besides, catching some gravel into the tights made long drive home rather uncomfortable.
Enter the compression sock. These seem to have taken over the compression market when you glance around a Mountain Bike Stage Race. There are enough styles on the market now that a lot of people are even able to colour match to their team kit. I have been using some Sugoi R+R Knee High compression socks for a while now. They are part of their Piston range of clothing, which is mostly race and recovery based.
The R+R Knee Highs are a very comfortable sock, and as the name suggests (Race and Recovery) they can be used for competition. Sugoi are a versatile brand, so I would take this more for running competition. The footbed has structured cushioning at the heel and toes, with great support through the arch. These socks don’t slip around. Through the upper, the material is thinner so they’re not overly hot. The compression is good, but not overly constrictive. Obviously you need to get the right size though, and four distinct sizes are available. I was happy wearing these for a long period of time without discomfort.
There are labels for your left and right foot, which is something a lot of high end sock manufacturers do these days. I’m pretty good at following instructions, so I never swapped them around to see if the world would end. But at least the label is clear to read near your toe. As long as you don’t wear these with sandles too often, people won’t know your socks are labeled.
In use, it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing these socks. My daily life dictates that most training takes part before or after work – and said work is typically standing up. So these socks came on occasionally at work, but mostly at home. I usually slept in them, and found they were a great way of relieving ‘retail kankle’. Compared to not using them, I found my calves felt a little bit fresher. They are meant to promote circulation, and aid in muscle stability and efficiency of movement if used during sport. Despite covering my lower legs to just below my knee, the hydrophobic and hydrophillic material combination meant I didn’t find myself overly sweaty in them. They are easy enough to pull on post race, and take up minimal space in a kit bag.
If you already have some compression garments, you’re probably sold on the idea. If you’re not sure and want a piece to try that is versatile and easy to get along with, try some of the Sugoi R&R Knee Highs. Although their colour spectrum of Black, Alloy or White may not match your team kit for on the bike use, I have found them to be great for travel and recovery. However I still see competing in them as a massive faux pas. But that’s my choice, yours may be different.
Check Sugoi’s Website for more details and sizing. And check back soon for a review on their Piston tights and Long Sleeve top, to see how I get along with these two items now.