Will compression socks help prevent shin splints? The pain has been occurring on and off for a couple of months.
I've used compression socks in the past and personally found them very pleasant. One of the claimed advantages is that it restricts the swaying of your calf muscle which should help reduce the strain on your shins.
But as Plankalkül indicates there isn't any literature to support its effect on preventing injuries, but I found two blog posts (albeit rather old). The first post reviewed several studies but most were focused on subjects with circulatory diseases and may not translate to athletes. He also came across one study by Ali on athletes that experienced a reduction in delayed-onset muscle soreness 24 hours after wearing compression stockings. Which would certainly indicate a speedier recovery as claimed by some of the stocking users.
The second blog post found two more articles which found no performance or physiological difference, but a reduction in DOMS 24 hours after exercise with compression socks. The second study tested athletes on a treadmill and found a small improvement in their performance.
So you'll have to judge for yourself, I personally like them, but I haven't found any supporting evidence.
- Ali A, et al. 2007. Graduated compression stockings: physiological and perceptual responses during and after exercise. J Sports Sci 25(4): 413-419.
I just did a search on PubMed (which is always a good idea in cases like this) and couldn't find anything. So it seems like it hasn't been studied (or is just considered obviously useless). So in this case I would just assume the answer at this moment has to be: No it doesn't help.
Is there a reason think it could help?
I've found two things contribute to my shin splints - too tight or improperly laced shoes (also stuff like a too long or excessively stiff tongue), and a raised heel. When I wear shoes with neither (loose, flexible, minimalist shoes), I never have any shin splints.
That doesn't necessarily mean compression sleeves don't help, but if I'm to re-interpret your question as "How can I get rid of shin splints?" my suggestion would be to look at your shoes.