The company that made the wool sock business savvy and even sexy has placed its foot in the door of the fast-growing compression clothing category with its new Graduated Compression Socks. According to SmartWool, this is the first performance-enhancing, over-the-calf sock in Merino wool with graduated compression. Offered in Compression Light (light cushioning) and Compression Ultra Light (non-cushioned), the benefits are said to be similar to the highly touted recovery-inducing features of compression clothing.
The design, which is created through the use of stronger elastics knit into the socks from the ankle to four inches above the ankle, applies pressure from the ankle to the knee, which stimulates circulation and increases blood flow back to the heart.
“By compressing the surface veins, arteries and muscles, the circulating blood is forced through narrower channels,” says Zack Taylor, SmartWool product designer. “The arterial pressure is increased, causing more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet.”
According to SmartWool, the end result is a minimization of leg, ankle, and foot swelling, a reduction of fatigue, and a faster recovery time post-activity. While these new socks are positioned as a recovery product for travel, they can also be used for running and skiing.
The socks have a 20-30 mmHg graduated compression rating, while medical-grade compression falls into the 40 mmHg range. Taylor suggested that active wearers would recover 70 percent faster wearing the socks than with passive recovery and 25 percent faster than active recovery. In use on travel, swelling was said to be reduced by 50 to 100 percent.
We put the Compression Ultra Light socks to the real test on the travel front on two 14-hour flights from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, and back. Our male tester, a veteran air traveler who donned these socks for the outbound sojourn, was skeptical at first as the fit was almost uncomfortably snug around the ankle and calf. He also said he felt that the fabric was slightly scratchy for extended wear. This claustrophobic feeling was soon forgotten as passengers slept. Upon waking and getting off the plane in Sydney, he said his feet and legs felt refreshed and he had experienced less swelling than ever before on this transpacific flight. The final verdict: he would not take this flight again without wearing these socks.
Our female tester experienced the same initial concern as she slipped the socks on before departure in Sydney back to the United States. She said she felt the socks’ tightness transitioned into a massaging sensation. When the descent into Los Angeles began and it was time to put shoes back on, she found that almost none of the expected foot swelling had occurred. The shoes slipped right back on and she felt little discomfort or cramping in the feet or calves.
Even after the long flight was over, she actually chose to leave the socks on for the rest of the day, that's how much she liked them.
Suggested Retail: $37.95
SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
For more information:www.smartwool.com