Compression is a pretty hot topic in endurance sports these days. When Paula Radcliffe made her record-setting run in 2003, few people knew what the story behind her knee-high socks. Today, you see nearly as many athletes using compression socks and sleeves as you do athletes who don't, whether it's during activity or for recovery. The medical industry figured out the benefits of compression a while ago, and it makes sense that athletes looking for an edge can take advantage of some of those same benefits. Today, there are even companies that specialize in compression for athletes. One such company is PRO Compression, who offers the PRO Compression Marathon Socks.
The PRO Compression Marathon Sock is described by PRO Compression as follows:
Experience maximum benefit with the Marathon full-length, graduated compression sock. Compression technology helps improve blood flow, resulting in better, more consistent performance with less fatigue and faster, more efficient recovery. In addition to improving vascular performance, Marathon compression socks provide support to critical muscles and tendons, helping reduce inflammation and soreness.
Put it all together for the perfect sock for endurance, recovery and travel.
- Full-length, graduated compression design for maximum blood flow
- Non-slip design, even after hours on your feet
- Lightweight construction for incredible feel
- Blended materials provide maximum comfort and support
- Moisture control keeps you dry during your biggest efforts
- Made in USA
|PRO Compression Marathon Socks|
Last week, I reviewed the SLS3 FXC Compression Sock, discussed compression, and linked to Steve Magness's article on the science behind compression. If you haven't read that post, I'll save you the click and quote myself below. If you've already read that post, feel free to skip the following quote:
Rather than me going into a dissertation on what compression does and doesn't do, if you're interested in the science, Steve Magness does an excellent job of compiling the research. To sum it up, the benefits of compression are increased blood flow and reduced muscle vibration. I'm not sure I buy increased bloodflow during activity, since your sympathetic nervous system and contracting muscles do a bang-up job of that on their own, but I certainly agree that increasing venous return (arteries are muscular and do a good job of pumping blood into the extremities, but veins are kind of wimpy and not as good at sending blood back to the heart) and reducing blood pooling in your legs after running can speed recovery. As far as reducing muscle vibration during exercise...well, anecdotally, I wore RecoFit Calf Component sleeves for the Philadelphia Marathon, and while I did get some calf cramping during the race, my calves were not nearly as bad as I expected them to be in the following days...probably comparable to the day after the first race in spikes, and they weren't nearly as trashed as my quads.
The PRO Compression Marathon Socks are rated at 22-26mmHg. As I stated last week, compression is measured in mmHg, which is a measure of how much pressure is exerted on the tissues, with higher numbers equating to more pressure. 22-26mmHg would fall under the category of firm compression, which is right where you want to be for recovery and running...tight enough to get the benefits of compression, but not so compressive as to limit bloodflow. Through the calf, the Marathon Sock actually feels more compressive than the SLS3, and about on par with you'd get with Zoot ULTRA CompressRx socks, though the foot feels slightly less so than either. The Marathon Sock is definitely a more calf-focused than foot and arch-focused sock.
Like other quality compression socks on the market today, the Marathon Socks offer graduated compression, so they're supposedly more compressive around the foot and ankle and less so as you move proximally towards your heart. The graduated compression is less noticeable than that of the SLS3, and it's more similar to what you'd find on the Zoots, as I found them to be pretty snug through the calf.
The material of the Marathon Socks is far thinner than that of the SLS3 or the Zoots. This means they'll be much more likely to fit inside shoes the same way as your normal socks, and there will be less fit issues with performance shoes. The Marathon Sock is the only one of the three that fits with my racing flats. This is a definite consideration for those of you who choose to race in compression socks and prefer your racing shoes to fit with a glove-like performance fit. It's also important if you live in a wetter climate, since the more cushioning a sock has, the more waterlogged it often gets. While they're still thicker than your typical ultralight race sock (which is probably too thin to make into a compression sock), they're probably the best choice for those of you who prefer thin socks for running.
The Marathon Socks are made of a comfortable material, and they stay up and in place during activity. Like other compression socks, they can get a little hot. Like I've said in the past, if you're racing in hot weather and really want compression, you're probably better off with a compression sleeve and lightweight sock (PRO Compression does offer a calf sleeve, though I have not worn it).
|PRO Compression Marathon Socks|
The Marathon Socks are about the same height as the Zoots, and shorter than the SLS3s. They still should work for all but the tallest people though, and shorter people won't have the bunching they get with taller socks.
The Marathon Socks are not right-left specific, which surprised me, since they're the only piece of compression gear I own that can fit on either leg. I would guess this is probably why they're a little bit less compressive through the arch than some of their competition. However, for everything other than the arch, right-left specific targeting doesn't really make a difference (the other socks' left-right specific differences are in the foot). And there is of course one benefit to socks that can go on either foot...that is, if you start to put a hole in one toe, you can just swap socks and wear them on the opposite feet. The foot part is also easier to get on than the Zoots, which may be in part due to them not being left-right specific. Still seems like an odd choice though.
As I stated in my last post, athletic compression socks should be washed on delicate and should not go in the dryer. Washing sompression socks also serves to restore compression, since wearing them will stretch them out. Please note that this is for athletic compression socks...if you somehow got to this blog and are looking for instructions on washing prescribed compression for a medical condition, ask your doctor, because those may require special washing instructions.
|PRO Compression Marathon Sock sizing|
Sizing is done according to shoe size. I have a little bit of reservation about sizing according to shoe size rather than calf circumference, since the latter tends to be more accurate. There's also the fact that there is a lot of overlap between the men's and women's sizing. If I went by this chart, that would put me (women's 7.5) in the same size socks as my dad (men's 10), and his calves are huge compared to mine. I actually ended up going with an XS, which is supposed to fit men size 4-7 and women size 4-7 (while my women's size falls outside that range, a women's 7.5 is equivalent to a men's 6, which falls within that range), so I'd encourage women and men with thin calves to size down.
There's also one big advantage PRO Compression has over its competition, and that's pricing. While the Marathon Socks retail for the same price as other socks (and seem to be of similar quality as the other expensive socks), PRO Compression often offers discount codes via their email list, Twitter, and Facebook. Right now, using the promo code MARCH gets you 40% off, which brings down the Marathon Socks to $30, which is a pretty smoking deal for compression socks. If you miss this particular deal, keep an eye out, because I've been told that sales like this come up from time to time. PRO Compression is also currently running a sweepstakes where you can win socks or Apple products by joining their email list, buying socks, or sending in a postcard with your contact information, though that looks like it ends in a few days, so if you're interested, you may want to get on that soon.
The PRO Compression Marathon Sock is a solid compression sock that I would particularly recommend for people who generally prefer lightweight socks, people who plan to race in their compression socks, and for people who want a sock that's very compressive through the calf. However, they may not be tall enough for very tall people, and the calves may be too tight for people with very large, muscular calves. They're also a great choice for someone who doesn't want to spend $50-60 on socks (the normal price for compression socks) and is willing to wait for a sale.
PRO Compression Marathon Socks retail for $50 and are available on the PRO Compression website. They're available in a variety of colors and patterns. PRO Compression also offers a calf sleeve for $45, for those of you who prefer to wear a certain type of socks.
Oh hey, but we're not done yet! PRO Compression has generously offered to provide a pair of Marathon Socks to one of my readers! Giveaway ends next Sunday (3/24/13) at midnight eastern time. To enter, use the form below:
Full disclosure: PRO Compression Marathon Socks were provided by PRO Compression free of charge in exchange for a review. The opinions contained in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of PRO Compression or anyone else.