Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Product Review: CEP Compression Socks

Love my socks!
I know a lot of people are skeptical about running with compression socks. And when I wear mine, I certainly get a lot of funny looks from those that don't understand. But since getting myself a pair of CEP Compression Socks, I've noticed such a world of difference in my longer distance running. I can't imagine going without them now.

No, I don't wear them as a fashion statement. But I have to say that I'm pleased that wearing them is something that's respected and understood amongst endurance athletes. As someone who has a medical reason to wear compression socks, I'm so glad that it's possible to get some that are breathable, fashionable (they come in all kinds of funky colours), and completely functional to wear for sports.

Yes, I have a medical reason for wearing compression socks. You may recall me writing about how in October 2010, I had surgery on both of my legs. This was to correct inefficiencies in the circulation in my legs, removing problematic varicose veins, and relieving the pain I had in my right leg as a result of a scary blood clot incident I had earlier that year. This was one heck of an uncomfortable experience! Of course, having surgery means that the problem has been corrected. But the doctor also advised me that it's best to wear the compression socks I have any time I am going to be doing things that are harder on the legs such as standing long periods of time, being on an airplane, etc. This will allow proper blood circulation and prevent discomfort, swelling, and future problems down the road.

So it makes complete sense that if I'm running long distances, the same rule applies. Running is hard on the legs. Running is extended time on one's feet. I was skeptical about trying a sporty version of compression socks, knowing how my medical socks (i.e. not at all sport and fashionable socks) fit and what difference they make for me on days I'm on my feet. I couldn't imagine something that could be bought without a prescription, but in the accessories department of a sports store, to be so effective. I thought it was some sort of weird trend only attempting to make something scientific cool. I was wrong. They are scientifically sound and cool.

CEP compression socks are fantastic. They are some of the more expensive socks on the market, but most definitely worth every penny, and then some. The investment is because they are of medical grade, but with the breathability and moisture-management you'd expect in a sporty product. They fit exactly as they should, come with a customized fit, to hug your feet, ankles, and calves, for maximum support and benefit. These are not just any compression sock, but the compression sock. 

First off, the fit..... to find the right fit, you actually have to take measurements of your legs, in the same way you'd get measured when buying medical socks. It's not like some of the less expensive products on the market that claim to have the same benefits but sizing is based on shoe size like it's only a product for your feet and not your legs. With these socks, I'm confident the right amount of compression is present and I can actually feel a difference in my legs when I wear them. And not only are the legs fitted appropriately in these socks, but the feet are too. Anatomically specific left and right socks, allows for cushioning and support to be in all the right places to allow the sock to sit comfortably on your foot for even the longest of long runs. 

Second, the functional benefits..... What exactly are the benefits of compression and why should you consider compression, even if you're not like me and have a medical excuse, you ask? Every muscle in our body needs energy in the form of oxygen. Oxygen is transported by our blood. Compression increases the efficiency of this transport system. It speeds the delivery of oxygenated blood to the muscles that need them, and removes the de-oxygenated blood away from your muscles. This slows down muscle fatigue and speeds recovery. It also mitigates blood pooling, build-up of lactic acid, and swelling. And this is among the many benefits.

What does that really mean? For me, it means that on my longest of long runs, I come home to legs, ankles, and feet with zero swelling. Recovery is speedier, and I can bounce back and have fresh feeling legs that are ready to run again much quicker. I wear the socks during my long runs, and if I can, for a few hours after those long runs during recovery. I have a second pair I slip on after my post-run shower to allow my legs to continue reaping the benefits of compression. I will even wear them the day before a race.

I conducted an experiment the other day. I was noticing that I don't bother with compression socks on my short run days, but only when I run longer distances. I only started wearing them when I was logging distances higher than 16K training for a marathon. Part of it is because they take patience to put on properly (i.e., I advise you to watch an instructional video if you can find one....they are not your regular sock and must be worn a particular way). Part of it is because I only have 2 pairs but I run 4-5 days a week and refuse to do laundry that often. Part of it is because I tan really quickly and don't want ridiculous tan-lines from wearing them everyday. Part of it is because recovery from a short run just isn't the same process as it is for a long run. So I went for a 16K run this past Saturday and went without the socks to see if I could tell if they made a difference.  Shouldn't have done this, because I missed my socks so badly. I came home with swollen ankles and sluggish legs that took all of the following day to recover. Every red light I encountered during my run that forced me to stop running, I could feel blood rushing down my legs and pooling. Yuck! It's perhaps something I wouldn't have thought twice about before, thinking this is just how one has to feel after a hard workout. But now I know better and know that I don't have to feel that way just because I worked out hard. I should be rewarded for hard work, not be drained. I won't go without them on future long runs I do.

Give them a try, will ya!


  1. Really interesting product review & I had never thought about compression socks before. I guess most of the reason for this is that I tend to run in 3/4 length pants. I would be interested in running in shorts with perhaps compression socks as the weather gets warmer but I find shorts uncomfortable to run in given the fact that I am not as thin as most runners and my thighs tend to rub together and cause my shorts to ride up. Any ideas?

  2. Mon - you can certainly wear compression socks over your 3/4 length pants!! I wore my compression socks in the winter over my Lulu running pants and they are full length. It helps that I don't give a shit how I look :)

  3. I wear the compression socks no matter what bottoms I'm wearing....Sure it might look best with shorts, but I wear them under my tights, with my capris. Whatever. Fashion is 2nd to function. And runners will understand even if other passerbyers won't.

    And Jess, you wear socks OVER your pants? Not UNDER? Weirdo... :) You'd get maximum benefit if the compression is fitting your bare legs and the pants are worn over...just sayin'!

  4. I run in CEP, well, I at least wear them, I am not fully convinced I like to run in them, but I swear by compression socks in helping my calves. I had tried many brands, but only CEP had some that fit me. I have cankles, so there small was the only one that fit. And yes, I wear them in public with shorts, so lots of folks give me some looks. I think I like looking a bit strange. Good luck on your upcoming half!

  5. Hi Mark! Wearing them while running takes some getting used to. I swear by them for long runs. And for sure, it helps with recovery and helps those calves! I love the funny looks I get - they're just jealous :) Thanks for the kind words for the upcoming half. I have two on the way now, as I registered for another one in July just yesterday. Might as well have some fun runs on the way to my next marathon. What's on your calendar?