10 Best Compression Running Socks Tested & Reviewed

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Searching for the best Compression Running socks? Take a look at our test and review, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them in a store!

You might think about compression gear as a bit of a surplus requirement, but then again if this is your opinion you’ve probably never tried them. Particularly if you’re a runner who has struggled with injuries, a good pair compression socks can be a godsend.

How to Choose the Best Compression Socks for Runners

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MudGear OCR
  • MudGear OCR
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable construction designed for obstacle course racing
  • Price: See Here
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Zensah Tech +
  • Zensah Tech +
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Engineered construction for improved muscle support
  • Price: See Here
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CEP Progressive+ 2.0
  • CEP Progressive+ 2.0
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Anatomical foot design to prevent unwanted friction
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Below is a brief list we’ve put together of the best compression running socks available on the market today. Enjoy.


1. MudGear OCR Compression Socks

Editor rating: 9.5 / 10
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Designed for obstacle course racing, MudGear compression socks are made to provide compression that will last through intense competitions. These also have a protective backing for added durability in obstacle course situations, which is a feature that differs from other options out there. These are an ideal choice for the more rugged and intense environments.
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Let's begin with the primary purpose of this type of product, compression. These actualy provide the same amount of consistent pressure that you would get from wearing compression sleeves, while at the same time getting the benefits and performance of a durable pair a running socks. The applied pressure remains consistent throughout without fitting too tightly, or being so constrictive that they are uncomfortable to wear.

Compression gear that provides pressure, but not consistently, really is not as effective with reducing muscle fatigue as something that provides an even amount of application throughout. MudGear got the consistently applies compression right with this product.

Another really important factor, especially with running distances in competition scenarios is breathability. A pair of socks, compression or not, must have decent airflow. Nobody wants to put on a pair, run 10, 15 or more miles, just to let the sweat build up and pool at the bottom of their feet, especially in hot weather. Then, once your run is completed, you get to take those socks off to two overheated, clammy feet. That'll take the fun out of your run.

Breathability is another thing that MudGear got right with these. Even though their OCR socks are built a bit more rugged than other brands, they are able to provide that effective compression, while at the same time allowing the adequate airflow needed to comfortably finish your run.

And, as far as having enough support goes, The fact that these have a much more durable build only adds to the already present support provided by the amount compression that they offer.
If you are looking for a solid and effective pair of compression socks, and also tend to take your runs off-road, MudGear's OCR socks are absolutely something to consider.
Pros
  • Consistent applied pressure throughout reduces muscle fatigue and lessens recovery time
  • Exceptional airflow, even through the heavier duty construction
  • Durable construction, designed for use in more intense types of running environments
  • Specifically designed for off-road & obstacle course racing
  • Well over 600 positive reviews from satisfied users
Cons
  • Slightly thicker than other normal compression socks


2. Zensah Tech +

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Right up there with the best, Zensah's Tech+ compression running socks provide exceptional comfort along with the benefits of an appropriate level of compression. With a small amount of cushioning under the foot, these perform well on longer runs. This sock does tend to provide slightly less compression than some other options, but does offer a level that will still bring the benefits. This is ideal for those who are looking for an option with a bit less compression.
Pros
  • Ideal for those who want slightly less compression
  • Improved Circulation and faster recovery
  • Increased muscle support
  • Material is anti-odor and ultra-breathable
Cons
  • Not enough for those who expected a higher level of compression


3. CEP Progressive+ 2.0

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These socks have managed to nail the balance between support and ease of movement. Just enough compression to support your legs but not enough to restrict motion. With a lot of technology built into them these socks are designed for high performance and are great for a run of any length.
Pros
  • Proprioceptive support to cushion the ankle/arch
  • Medical grade 20-30mmHg compression for maximum output
  • 85% polyamide/15% spandex
  • Anatomical foot design to prevent friction
  • Color variety, including reflective options
  • Helps avoid  shin splints, muscle soreness and wear/tear
Cons
  • A bit expensive

4. CW-X Conditioning Wear Compression Support

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This is a great sock for targeted compression. If you have issues with ankles, plantar fasciitis or your achilles this may be the sock for you. Unlike uniform compression socks the targeted design of this model allows for much needed support in critical areas.
Pros
  • Blend of Nylon 90% / Polyurethane 10% makes for a comfortable fit
  • Seamless
  • Variable compression 4-way stretch fabric design  aids circulation
  • built-in support web helps the calf and arch
Cons
  • Does not provide full leg coverage

5. NIKE Elite Cushioned High Intensity

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The economy model, for a relatively cheap price you can get well functioning compression socks from Nike. These socks are great for their multi-use capacity, functionality and the design aesthetic you would expect from Nike. These are a great starter pair of socks.
Pros
  • Relatively low cost
  • Made from Nike’s famous Dri-Fit to keep your feet nice and dry
  • Cushioned Over-the-Knee design for extended coverage
  • Supportive fit with arch compression
  • Unisex
Cons
  • Heel tends to bunch up

6. Sockwell Circulator

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Designed specifically with women in mind, these are great socks for training or for everyday use.Particularly if you’re on your feet a lot. The highlight reel for these socks includes: improved circulation, minimized swelling, reduced fatigue, and a quicker recovery time. The design is great too, REI meets Chanel.
Pros
  • Manufactured in USA comprised of 32% Merino Wool, 32% Stretch Nylon, 31% Bamboo Rayon, 5% Spandex
  • Gender specific
  • Ultra-light cushion and heel box comfort and a snug fit
  • Accu-fit technology ensures consistent compression level
  • Modern style
Cons
  • Material gets a bit warm

7. MoJo Elite

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Flashy and futuristic looking the Mojo compression sock is bound to garner a bit of attention at the track or the trail. Looks aside, this is a great sock for running in and for active recovery as well. Selective compression gradients are specifically engineered into the sock to help prevent the buildup of lactic acid. If you struggle with sore muscles they may be worth a try.
Pros
  • Thicker padding for increased oxygen delivery
  • Specifically engineered to meet foot/leg contours
  • Eye catching & stylish design
  • Extra cushioning + moisture wicking material
Cons
  • Bulkier than some others

8. ABD Premium Compression Socks

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To steal a page from our crossfit friend’s playbook… the ABD Compression sock is great for any high intensity workout whether it’s on the road or in a gym. These socks are designed to help your body withstand burpees, they are more than capable of providing support and comfort for your 5k. Fatigued muscles will be especially happy with an ABD sock.
Pros
  • Targeted ankle and foot support
  • Tight compression level to flush toxins and fight acidic buildup ( mmHg rating is 20-25)
  • Smooth and seamless construction
  • Graduated Compression
Cons
  • Some felt the compression was too tight

9. Thirty48 Graduated Compression Socks

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These performance-oriented socks feature graduated compression and a premium material. The result is the perfect blend for expediting recovery, fighting the accumulation of lactic acid, and providing support on the move.
Pros
  • Easy to size, with great consumer aids
  • Made from Anti-Bacterial Nylon
  • CatalystAF Design technology implemented for performance
  • Right/Left specifications for a superior fit
Cons
  • Not as tall as some others

10. Vitalsox VT1211

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A bit of a gold standard for the market, Vitalsox has been manufacturing high quality running socks (in Italy) since 1998. This particular sock is going to cover all your bases from moisture control to arch support to smooth overall compression. One of the most appealing aspects of the VT1211 is being made from a unique patented fiber called Drystat — which is sure to keep your feet moisture free.
Pros
  • Made from DRYSTAT, designed to kill bacteria and fungus, while wicking moisture away
  • Good arch compression & support
  • Lightly padded
Cons
  • Runs a bit tall

Compression socks can help increase your circulation, reduce injuries and provide support to your muscles/joints. If you get heavy legged at times, try a pair of compression socks to test out the difference. If you live in a cold climate getting some good quality compression on your skin is especially important.


The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation Of The Best Compression socks for running

 

Do they offer consistent pressure?

The whole purpose of compression wear  is to provide consistent levels of pressure to specific areas of the body, in this case the feet and lower legs. Realizing the effects of compression socks when worn for DVT (deep vein thrombosis), this type of wear soon became popular with runners as a way to improve blood flow. To have the desired result, the socks must compress the limb consistently all the way around, providing an equal level of pressure throughout.

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Another positive effect of consistent pressure is the ability to better control muscle vibration during intense runs or exercise. This can also aid in preventing stress injuries from long and intensive activities.

Firm enough support

The provided support must be and remain firm throughout wearing the socks. This will help with that aspect of evenly maintained pressure, mentioned above.

Lasting firm support also tends to be a sign of well made and properly constructed materials, offering the necessary control and performance ability which the product is intended to provide, in order to help with preventing injuries and avoidable stress.

Proper fit

They must fit correctly in order to perform as effectively as intended. The whole point of wearing compression socks is to have a fit which is not constrictive, but tight enough to provide the correct amount of compression.

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The socks should remain conformed to the lower leg all the way up to above the calf, staying tightly in place and not sagging, bunching or falling down. The proper fit is crucial to the product’s successful functionality.

Often times a sock that, no matter is you have the right size, just will not stay in place or keeps falling down, is many times due to being poorly constructed or made of lower quality materials. This would definitely affect the repeated use and effectiveness of the socks.

Are they breathable enough?

Here is something which is repeated all the time, when discussing all kinds of running products and apparel. Running gear has to allow airflow in order to keep the runner comfortable and efficient, and compression gear is really no different.

Though the materials the socks are constructed with must have durable elasticity, there should be a decent mixture of breathable textiles as well.

This not only allows much more comfortable wear, but also, more importantly prevent bacterial issues from built up sweat and moisture.

Do they provide warmth?

It does involve the obvious of providing a thermal barrier, keeping the feet and lower legs warm in colder climates, but also goes a little further than that.

Keeping the limbs warm during activity allows the muscles to stay loose, preventing injuries caused by putting stress on constricted muscles. In addition to vibration control, compression socks also provide a small amount of insulation, keeping the muscles warm and loose during the run.

 

More important information to consider when searching for compression socks

Do you need to wear them?

Is compression gear right for you? That is something which you’ll need to determine. If you push yourself hard during a run, the compression and support can help quite a bit with running through the next day recovery.

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Originally used to help treat Deep Vein Thrombosis, the pressure, when applied correctly, will help to increase blood flow. This allows blood to easily travel to the areas which are stressed and worked out during your long runs.

They do apply constant pressure to the feet and lower legs, so that is one thing that you’ll need to expect, and get used to if you plan on continuous use. If you aren’t used to or typically like to wear slightly constrictive under garments, this will certainly take some time to get accustomed to.

How tight is too tight?

Well, if your limbs turn blue, your socks are probably a little to constrictive. This really touches on what we mentioned earlier about consistent pressure.

You’ll want the socks to be consistently tight throughout. This means you will want to avoid pairs that are much tighter at the top, above the calf. A top fit that feels like a stretched rubber band around your leg is not an ideal fit.

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It is really something that you will notice immediately after you put them on. If you have areas of the socks which fit much tighter, to the point of being noticeably uncomfortable and leaving a deep mark on the leg, that is too tight. They will have a tighter fit than you would get from regular running socks, however the tightness should be the same level throughout the sock.

Get the sizing right

Since you are purchasing these to provide targeted benefits, sizing becomes even more important. You don’t want them to be too small, just as you don’t want them to be too big.

If you wear a size that is too large, you will receive none of the benefits from applying compression to the lower legs.

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On the other end, buying a pair that is too small will put you in something which fits way too tight and uncomfortable. This would completely defeat the entire purpose of wearing compression gear. And, beyond being incredibly uncomfortable, it could lead to other issues after repeated use.

So, like with almost all running clothes, correct sizing is a very important aspect to consider.

 

FAQ

In order to offer as much assistance and guidance as possible, we have gathered some frequently asked questions that others are asking when purchasing compression socks for running.

 

Q:  I bought some compression socks, but they are really uncomfortable. Are they supposed to be so painful to wear?

A:  They should not be painful to wear. A fit that is too tight would be counter productive to their intended benefits. In this case the sizing should be checked to ensure that you are buying the correct size. You will feel compression, but they should not cut off circulation or be so tight that they are causing pain.

Q:  How high should they go up on my legs?

A:  Socks that go up just below the knees and above the calves are ideal, as that length covers and provides compression to the working and often stressed muscles of the lower legs. However, there are some products which are available in different lengths.

Q: Can I wear compression clothing as an insulating layer?

A:  Though that is not what they are normally intended for, they do by their nature provide some amount of insulation, really meant to keep the muscles warm and loosened up. However, this bonus feature certainly does allow them to be worn as an insulating layer under running clothes.

Q:  I would imagine that these types of socks are thin and don’t offer much underfoot cushioning like i am used to with my regularly used pairs for running. Are there options which also offer extra cushioning?

A:  Of course like most other things, companies find ways to evolve their products to meet the needs of many. There are certainly brands which offer models with cushioning. One product that we have on our list which fits this need is Zensah’s Tech +.

Q:  how bad will my feet sweat in these type of socks?

A:  One thing that needs to be paid attention to is breathability. This is something which is important to just about all athletic apparel. Compression clothing should never be an exception. If you pay attention to the materials that different pairs are constructed of, making sure you go with the products made with lightweight and breathable materials.

 

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This pretty much covers that basics of what should be considered when shopping for compression socks that will be used for running. Hopefully the information proves to be helpful in your search for the best gear.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research

As we try to dig deep to find the best information, we tend to find quite a few good sources which provide some really helpful knowledge . Here are some of those sources.

Sources

  1. Competitor.com, Do Compression Socks Really Work? , Running website, Dec 11, 2013
  2. US National Library of Medicine, Effect of compression stockings on running performance in men runners., Clinical publication,
  3. Outside Online, Is Compression for Competition or Running Recovery?, Outdoor / fitness website, Dec 02, 2014
  4. Runner's World, Compression Gear: Hype of Helpful?, Running enthusiast website, Dec 10, 2010
  5. Men's Journal, The Compression Sportswear Craze, Men's health publication,

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