Can Compression Socks Improve Athletic Performance?

In today’s sporting world, every athlete is looking for a competitive advantage over their opponent. Could something as simple as what kind of socks you wear, give you an advantage? That’s exactly what researchers at James Cook University in Australia wanted to find out.

Associate Professor Anthony Leicht from JCU's Sport and Exercise Science Discipline  measured the fatigue levels of female soccer players.They broke the athletes into 2 groups:   

1. Players with tight-fitting stockings applies to calf area with the goal of enhancing blood circulation.  

2. Players without the tight-fitting stockings.   

Here’s what Dr. Leicht found:

Fifty-seven percent of on-field injuries during soccer matches are related to fatigue and compression stockings may provide a simple method of injury prevention. We found that compression stocking use during an amateur female soccer match positively influenced agility and lower limb muscular endurance following the match. The benefits were clearly higher with the compression stockings than with regular socks. They confirmed that there is a protective effect with compression stockings that may be crucial for performance in soccer matches. Soccer is a demanding sport in terms of fatigue-related muscle damage that can significantly influence match performance. Anything that can prevent or delay this damage and/or change in performance could be an advantage. 

The compression socks increased the calf endurance as the matches endured.  With athletes covering “10km per match, with more than 2.5 km of that at high speeds of more than 14kmh.” Not only did the socks aid endurance but also enhanced performance with the constantly changing of direction and consistently acceleration and deceleration.  

According to Leicht, the benefits of compression socks for women were significant, while men only showed a slight improvement.

The study provides evidence of the practical benefits of compression stockings that may assist specifically female athletes.  

Another interesting discovery was that athletes wearing compression pants (which had compression at the calf area) did not have any improvement. However, the athletes who wore the compression calf sleeve did have improvements in endurance and muscle fatigue prevention. The researchers suspect because the pants are not custom made for the athlete, the compression is not as tight as if they purchased a specific size for their calf.

What should you do? 

When performing in an athletic completion, workout, etc, put on a calf sleeve. Not only is it a fashion statement, it actually helps improve performance via endurance. If you are a woman, you will notice a far more significant improvement than a man. If you and your team are playing another evenly matched team, the difference between victory and defeat may come down to who was able to perform at an elite level near the end of the game or match. That performance could be in direct relation to wearing a compression sleeve. Who knew the difference between victory and defeat could be a calf sleeve?

Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

For information on 1on1 Personal Training or Nutrition Coaching, feel free to contact me at

  • Dylan Boor
    Dylan Boor
    Even a slight improvement makes me wanna get a pair. Might help me when I go for runs
    July 18, 2019
  • Marta Gomez
    Marta Gomez
    Just bought a pair on prime day, lol.
    July 18, 2019