Sport Compression sock for calf complaints

By: Dr. I.G.L. van de Port and Prof. F.J.G. Backx (Sports Medicine UMC Utrecht)

The aim of this research was to systematically record the experiences of athletes with recurrent (recurrent) calf complaints. The cautious conclusion from this study was that the socks had a possible effect as part of the treatment package for calf complaints.

What does the athlete think?


Although Paula Radcliffe already used sports compressionsocks in 2000 because of calf complaints, these special socks are currently making a real breakthrough in the (top) sports world. In August 2006, Dutch athlete Bram Som became European champion in the 800 meters. He ran his races with the Herzog Sport Compressionsocks from the firm Herzog Medical. However, the use of the socks today is not only limited to the athletics track. Many other athletes such as skaters and football players (such as the Olympic football players in Beijing, (2008)) also use the sports compressionsocks.

The theory behind these sports compressionsocks focuses on two aspects. First of all, it is assumed that the pressure exerted by the socks on the lower leg ensures an improved venous disposal of waste products such as lactate, allowing a faster recovery after exercise. Secondly, it is suspected that the pressure of the sports compressionsocks reduces the shock load on the calf muscles. In this way, the socks would have a preventive, curative, recovery and performance-enhancing effect. However, little research has been done on the effect of sports compressionsocks during and after exercise. The current study concerns a user study in which we have systematically recorded, in the form of interviews, the positive and negative experiences of the various athletes regarding the use of the Herzog Sport Compressionsocks .


The aim of this research is to systematically record the experiences of athletes with calf complaints who use the Herzog Sport Compressionsocks over a period of three months. By means of this user research, it is investigated whether there are objections to a large-scale follow-up study to further objectify the effect of the sports compressionsocks .


Athletes from the Utrecht and Assen regions were included from 1 May 2007 to May 2008 when they came to the physiotherapist or sports doctor with complaints from the posterior or lateral compartment of the calf. To be able to participate in the study, the athletes had to be 18 years or older and exercise for half an hour at least twice a week (in the period before the complaints). After informed consent, the participants received two pairs of Herzog Sport Compressionsocks, with pressure gradient two, 30mm Hg at ankle level gradient to 23mmHg below the knee. The socks come in different sizes, which depend on the size of precisely defined points of the lower leg and foot. The measurement of the required measurements was done (accurately) by the treating physiotherapist or sports doctor. The data was filled in on the appropriate registration form and passed on to Herzog Medical. Through this company, the socks were delivered to the distribution locations and the athletes could pick them up. When picking up the socks , the measurements were measured again by an employee of the supplier, usually a physiotherapist. When an athlete measured deviating sizes that do not fit within the range of standard socks, socks were made to measure.

The athletes were asked to wear the socks during and up to one hour after all sports activities during the next three months. During the study, three standardized interviews were conducted, namely before the start of the study, after one month and after three months after the start. During these interviews, the characteristics, experiences, complaints and comments of the athletes with regard to the sports compressionsocks were mapped out.
The results of the study have been incorporated into SPSS (version 15).



A total of 31 athletes are included, 20 men and 11 women with an average age of 37 years (range 18 – 55 years). The population included runners, volleyball players, football players and korfball players. 15 of the athletes trained four or more times a week. The most common training duration per workout within the total population was 60 – 90 minutes. All athletes take preventive measures to prevent injuries, especially in the form of a warm-up (100% of athletes), stretching /stretching (93%) and a cool-down (68%).
In half of the athletes within the population, the current calf complaints have existed for more than a year, with the further history regarding the calves (such as varicose veins or thrombosis) being blank. The complaints are almost all either gradually arisen or due to an acute endogenous trauma.
In the end, the data of 28 athletes were processed (three dropouts; n = 2 reason unknown,
n = 1 was found to have no calf complaints of the posterior or lateral compartment after inclusion).

Ease of use socks

No athlete found the socks very unpleasant. Eight athletes have not been bothered by the socks and 14 users find the socks pleasant or very comfortable.

Figure 1: Wearing comfort Sports compressionous

Advantages and disadvantages of sports compressionsocks

The most frequently mentioned positive aspect of the sports compression is the support that the socks give (n = 11). Annoying about the stocking is mainly found the putting on and taking off of the socks (n = 11).

Effect sports compressionsocks

Score complaints
The score of the calf complaints at the start of the study is on average 4.7 (where 0 = no complaints and 10 = maximum complaints).
After using the sports compressionsocks for one month, this score dropped to 3.1. This score is approximately equal to the average complaint score after three months (3.3).

Recovery from calf complaints

The athletes are positive about the contribution of the sports compressionsocks to the change of their calf complaints. After one month, 12 athletes indicate that their complaints have been reduced, in three athletes the complaints have even disappeared. After three months, the symptoms of six athletes have completely disappeared. In another ten athletes, the complaints are reduced. 63% of athletes indicate that they will continue to use the socks after three months.

Figure 6: change of calf complaints after 1 month of use of Sport Compression Stocking

Figure 7: change of calf complaints after 3 months of using Sport Compression Stocking

Furthermore, 10 athletes after using the sports compressionous for one month, and 16 athletes after use for three months indicate that the sports compressionsocks have, according to them, contributed somewhat or even significantly to the recovery of their calf complaints.

Figure 8
: subjective effect of Sport Compressionsocks concerning contribution to recovery of calf complaints after 1 month

Figure 9: subjective effect of Sport Compressionsocks concerning contribution to recovery of calf complaints after 3 months

Overall satisfaction

In the end, after three months, 15 athletes are reasonably to very satisfied with the sports compressionsocks. Five athletes are neutral towards the sports compressionsocks.

Figure 10: satisfaction with sports compressionsocks after 3 months


The first impression of the users about the sports compressionous seems positive. The small number of side effects and the positive attitude towards the wearing comfort are beneficial. Furthermore, the population of this user survey consisted to a large extent of athletes with long-term (chronic) calf complaints, who have already tried to get rid of their complaints in many other ways. That is precisely why all recovery and performance-enhancing effects of the sports compressionsocks can be called positive.

Putting on the tight socks is sometimes difficult, which is seen as the main disadvantage. The manufacturer Herzog Medical, named after Harald Herzog, (the man behind the idea of the socks) has already made changes to the instructions for putting on the socks , making this easier. Also, by adding an extra measuring point (the height of the instep) and better fit will be realized, which facilitates the donning.

This user survey – in which the results are based on the experiences of athletes – shows that athletes can wear the socks satisfactorily. There therefore do not seem to be any obstacles to the use of the socks as an intervention in larger (randomized) effect studies.