A number of compression socks and compression sleeves advertise themselves as plantar fasciitis garments. You may be left wondering whether products branded in this way differ from traditional compression gear. Here's the short answer—they don't. High-quality compression socks are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and lab-tested for compression accuracy. They support your feet and ankles, targeting the inflammation that worsens plantar fasciitis pain.
Although we call our socks "compression socks" rather than "plantar fasciitis socks," you can still count on our products to prevent the painful symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Both our knee-high socks and ankle socks support the ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot, also known as your plantar fascia. Like most compression foot sleeves, we offer over-the-counter plantar fasciitis relief and swelling reduction. In contrast to many other plantar fasciitis sleeves and socks on the market, our knee-high Companions also give you the added health benefits that come from True Graduated Compression.
How Does True Graduated Compression Work?
Most medical studies evaluate the benefits of compression on the lower legs by studying the impact of graduated compression socks or compression stockings on study participants. That's because graduated compression, which applies a gradient of pressure that's tightest at the feet and ankles, is thought to be both medically impactful and easy-to-use (Lim E391). To understand why graduated compression is so effective, it's helpful to take a closer look at how the cardiovascular system functions.
Arteries carry blood in the same direction as gravity as they bring oxygen-rich blood down from the heart to the lower extremities. After your arteries deliver nutrients and oxygen to your cells, veins carry the deoxygenated blood and waste materials in the opposite direction, back to the heart. In other words, blood moves through your veins against the force of gravity. In some people, unhealthy circulation causes problems with venous return. Venous disorders, inflammation, swelling, or other issues may lead to slow or stagnant blood flow.
To combat poor blood circulation, graduated compression socks increase the velocity of your blood flow in two ways. First, compression narrows the circumference of your veins. Think of someone partially blocking the mouth of a garden hose. This narrowing of the vein forces the blood to flow in a tight, concentrated spray. In addition to this, compression socks apply a gradient of pressure, with more compression at the feet and ankles and less at the calf. This supports the work of your veins against the force of gravity, effectively pushing the deoxygenated blood back towards your heart.
One might assume that wearing restrictive spandex would stop your blood from flowing entirely. That's not the case with graduated compression; after all, you're not wearing such a snug fit that your circulation gets cut off. Although it may seem counterintuitive, graduated compression socks improve your overall circulation and increase blood flow throughout your body. Experimental results have even shown that exercise with compression socks increases the velocity of blood flow far away from the lower legs—in the arms. (Vaile Abstract)
How Do Compression Socks Help Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis describes the heel pain caused by overuse injuries to the plantar fascia ligament in your foot. When microtears to the plantar fascia become inflamed, you may experience extreme foot pain that makes it hard to exercise, and even to walk. Compression socks help prevent plantar fasciitis by discouraging overuse injuries. They also reduce unhealthy inflammation, allowing you to heal an existing injury faster.
They Improve Your Alignment
Compression socks give you arch support, ankle support, and small improvements in alignment that you don't get from regular socks. These micro-corrections may help you to avoid overuse injuries caused by exercising with bad form.
In an analysis of 32 scientific studies completed in 2016, researchers Engel et al. linked the use of compression socks to improvements in running economy. In 2020, another study found that inexperienced runners saw significant improvements in ground stride length, swing time, and heel strike parameters when they wore compression socks instead of traditional socks (Jefry et al. Abstract). A more efficient running stride doesn't just make you faster, it also makes you less susceptible to injuries.
Much of the nonsurgical management of plantar fasciitis revolves around eliminating tissue stress and mobility in the feet through the use of orthotics, adhesive tape, night splints, and insoles (Cornwall and McPoil 757-758). Beyond improving your running form, compression socks have also been shown to benefit postural stability while standing (Espeit Abstract). By reducing the mobility in the arch of your foot while you walk, run, and stand, compression socks may be able to protect you from forming microtears in the plantar fascia and surrounding structures.
They Reduce Inflammation
If you already suffer from plantar fasciitis, compression socks work to keep your inflammation response in check. Although scientists still don't entirely understand the complex processes behind exercise-induced muscle damage, an analysis of experimental results indicates that people who wear compression socks experience reductions in muscle pain, damage, and inflammation (Engel et al. Conclusion).
After a difficult workout, waste materials often accumulate in the bloodstream. The presence of certain organic compounds is correlated with muscle damage and pain. Scientists Baird et al. explain, "The process of mechanical and metabolic initiated muscle disruption is not entirely understood; it is thought to consist of a complex range of events involving increased oxidative stress, inflammatory and immune responses." Compression socks may limit your muscle damage and pain by helping you to efficiently flush damaging waste materials out of the bloodstream.
Although the exact mechanism for avoiding long-term damage and pain remains unclear, a large number of studies support the use of graduated compression socks to promote functional recovery. Not only do compression socks limit unhealthy inflammation, but they have also been shown to prevent oxidative stress, an imbalance that leads to cell and tissue damage, under certain circumstances (Flore et al. Abstract).
They Expedite Healing
If you've experienced an overuse injury to the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, or similar structures in the lower leg, we recommend consulting a doctor. Unfortunately, most physical therapists and podiatrists will probably recommend rest, healing, and discontinuation of your athletic training. By improving your blood circulation, compression socks help support the body's natural healing processes and promote wellness. With rest and optimal recovery, you'll be able to return to your athletic pursuits as soon as possible.
Additional Benefits with Comrad
The best plantar fasciitis socks should offer more than heel pain relief. They should also protect you from vascular disease, swelling, and long-term damage.
With each pair of Comrad socks, you know you're getting:
- Breathable, moisture-wicking fabric
- Extra toe and heel cushioning
- Fashionable, fun designs
- Reduced risk of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and pulmonary embolism
- Less blood pooling in your feet
- More efficient lymph drainage
- Energized legs without end-of-day soreness
- More comfortable travel experiences
- Improved recovery after a workout
- Injury prevention
Why settle for regular socks or socks that only address a single health concern?
Instead, you could be wearing the MVP of the sock world. Hundreds of studies support the use of graduated compression therapy. With True Graduated Compression socks, you know you’re getting real medical benefits that support your feet, your vascular system, and your entire body.
Baird, Marianne F. at al. "Creatine-Kinase- and Exercise-Related Muscle Damage Implications for Muscle Performance and Recovery", Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2012, 2012, https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/960363.
Cornwall, Mark W., and Thomas G. McPoil. “Plantar Fasciitis: Etiology and Treatment.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 29, no. 12, 1999, pp. 756–760, https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.19184.108.40.2066.
Engel F.A., Holmberg H.C., Sperlich B. "Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing?" Sports Med, vol. 46, iss. 12, 2016, pp. 939-952, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301581402_Is_There_Evidence_that_Runners_can_Benefit_from_Wearing_Compression_Clothing.
Espeit, Loic, et al. "Effects of compression stockings on ankle muscle H‐reflexes during standing." Muscle Nerve, vol. 55, 2017, pp. 596-598. https://doi.org/10.1002/mus.25455.
Flore, Roberto et al. “Reduction of oxidative stress by compression stockings in standing workers.” Occupational medicine (Oxford, England), vol. 57, iss. 5, 2007, pp. 337-41. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqm021
Jefry, Muhammad Hanis, et al. “The Effect of Compression Socks on Running Kinematics in Experience and Novice Runners.” Enhancing Health and Sports Performance by Design, 2020, pp. 333–340, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-3270-2_35.
Lim, Chung Sim and Alun H. Davies. “Graduated compression stockings.” CMAJ, Vol. 186, Iss. 10 pp. E391-E398. July 08, 2014, https://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/186/10/E391.full.pdf.
Vaile, Joanna, Stefanovic, Brad & Askew, Christopher D. "Effect of lower limb compression on blood flow and performance in elite wheelchair rugby athletes," The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, vol. 39, iss. 2, 2016, pp. 206-211, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1179/2045772314Y.0000000287