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Socks – they’re the underrated undergarment that can play a vital part in building your comfort, recovery and performance from the ground up.
Just like shoes, socks do their job best when you wear a pair that’s been engineered for what you require them to do – after all, you don’t go running in a cycling shoe! At 2XU, we’ve got a range of socks to cover your recovery and activity needs.
The Compression Performance Run Sock* is our lightest compression sock with light, breathable fabric and a special airflow panel at the back of the calf to help keep you cool and dry. The sock’s footbed is engineered with targeted support and light padding to the areas that need them when the foot is in an active running position. This sock also features maximum calf muscle containment, which means that the compression support panels “wrap” the calf muscle to help reduce muscle oscillation (vibration or unnecessary movement in the muscle), which in turn causes fatigue.
Off-road and on the obstacle course, you might want to forego a little lightness and airflow for a tougher sock that can offer a more protection, as well as more support through the ankle and Achilles for better balance. The Compression Performance Run Sock will still work well for comfort and performance, but the Elite Compression Alpine Sock (modelled off the popular Elite Compression Sock – see below) is a stronger sock that offers more protection against twists, scrapes and falls. This sock has heavy support through the ankle and Achilles and has more padding at the shins.
Designed with snow sports in mind, this sock has more padding in the footbed and a “flexible tongue zone” to eliminate pressure from the tongue of a ski/snowboard boot – or a heavy hiking boot. Trekkers also benefit from the higher rating of compression (30 mm hg at the ankle compared to 25 mm hg at the ankle in the Compression Performance Run Sock and the Compression Sock for Recovery). This provides extra protection against blood pooling and the feeling of “heavy legs” that can come with the lower activity level but longer duration of activity typical in trekking. The Elite Compression Sock (see more below) also offers this higher rate of compression.
While any 2XU compression sock will improve circulation post-activity for better recovery, the dedicated Compression Sock for Recovery has an advantage. If you compare the footbed of the Recovery Sock with the Performance Run Sock, you’ll see they are different – one has panelling and padding designed for when the foot is in an active running position, while the other has footpad and arch positioning designed for maximum support for the foot in all sedentary or lying positions. The Recovery Sock is also padded and vented with all-day (or all-night) comfort in mind so that you can wear them comfortably for hours on end. You can wear them on long plane trips, and even sleep in them.
The Elite Compression Sock is a true hybrid that can do it all – it’s a versatile sock for all outdoor activities, while also having superior graduated compression for recovery and protection against DVT during air travel. It’s a moisture-wicking sock that will keep you dry and comfortable, and it has superior muscle containment to reduce fatigue. This sock is great for people prone to varicose veins or other circulation-related issues, as it provides maximum venous return, thanks to its higher compression rating (30 mm hg at the ankle instead of 25 mm hg). People susceptible to calf and shin issues (e.g. shin splints) or Achilles injury will appreciate the extra support in these areas.
This may look like an odd combo to whack together, but the needs of these two activity groups are surprisingly similar when it comes to socks. The Elite Compression Alpine Sock was specifically made for snow sports, so it has neat features such as the flexible tongue zone (see above), padding in the shin without adding unnecessary bulk, extra support through the ankle and Achilles, and a higher rating of graduated compression all round.
These are all features that come in very handy for strength sports. The shin padding helps protect against scraping from a barbell or other implements, just as the flexible tongue zone can make your feet a little more comfortable in tight, stiff shoes such as weightlifting shoes or flat leather lifting boots.
In full squatting actions or any exercise where you’re lifting a weight from the floor, there is a lot of flexion at the ankle and a big stretch on the Achilles that is made more extreme by the extra load, so any extra support in this area not only helps with protection, it provides better balance that then carries through with greater stability further up the body. If you prefer a slightly lighter sock for strength sports, the Elite Compression sock offers all the same benefits, but without the additional padding.
You can see a lot of debate among cyclists about low-rise or ‘no-show’ socks vs. longer socks, but it all seems to come down to personal taste. So at 2XU we offer both the longer Cycle Sock and the Low Rise Sock which, length aside, share the same features that will benefit cyclists.
First, their fabric combination offers great moisture management, plus they have a sanitized treatment that provides antibacterial protection. Both socks have padding through the ankle and reinforcement at the heel for comfort in cycling shoes, plus the linked toe cage, a feature in all 2XU compression socks, has been carried through to these socks to reduce irritation from friction with the shoe.
This is a method where the top part of the sock is linked to the body of the sock for a practically seamless finish around the toe. Inferior socks will simply have two pieces of fabric sewn together around the toe area, which creates a bulkier finish that could be prone to irritation when rubbed.
* All socks mentioned here available in both men’s and women’s ranges