“if putting strawberry bubble gum in your right ear on Tuesday mornings helps to alleviate your left hip pain, who am I to say to "don’t do it”.
Preamble: When patients ask me if XYZ might help their problem/pain I sometimes have been heard to jokingly tell my patients that the placebo effect has been shown as high as 40% in some studies. i say that different things work for different people, so if there is no harm in trying something “fringe” and as of yet unproven, I tell them to feel free to try it. I often jokingly end the conversation with this statement “if putting strawberry bubble gum in your right ear on Tuesday mornings helps to alleviate your left hip pain, who am I to say to "don’t do it”.
My mom wears compression stockings for minor swelling in her lower legs. These socks are rated at a graduated 20-30mmHg. Most athletic compression socks are rated far lower, but we have seen some that are rated that high.
Originally developed for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), some compression socks are now marketed as a tool to improve venous return, thus believed to improve both performance and recovery in athletes. Some feel that the socks during training are directed to help the skeletal muscle pump, increase deep venous velocity, and/or decrease blood pooling in the calf veins. Some even claim they will alleviate delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Alex Hutchinson (link below) does another nice job reviewing compression socks. His conclusion is the same as ours;
“So the overall picture is quite mixed. The fact that pre-existing beliefs have a big effect on how well compression socks work definitely seems to suggest that some of the benefits are "all in your head.” But it’s worth remembering that the same is probably true of any kind of intervention, including “real” ones.“
Below is a study that suggests no measurable benefits. But as always, you can find any study to support what you want to believe. So perhaps it comes down to, how suggestive is your brain, and what seems to work for you ?
So, compression socks or strawberry bubble gum ? Choices choices choices.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Mar;114(3):587-95. doi: 10.1007/s00421-013-2789-2. Epub 2013 Dec 13.
Compression stockings do not improve muscular performance during a half-ironman triathlon race.
Del Coso J.