PRO Compression socks bring relief, recovery and flair
By Henry Howard
As a runner, I use compression gear from time to time for recovery after a long run or race, or during a major training block. I rarely race in compression socks or sleeves.
Other runners swear by compression socks and sleeves, wearing them for every run. On the other hand, there are runners who never wear compression gear and believe it’s a placebo effect.
Fred Hernandez, who has been active in cycling and running, admits there are exaggerated, if not, flat-out bogus claims.
“I think the research goes back decades where compression has been shown to improve circulation,” says Fernandez, the chief marketing officer for PRO Compression. “It's had medical applications with burn victims, and people with blood clot issues, poor circulation and diabetes. The science is there. I don't think athletic apparel companies need to get into that and produce any studies. But there has been a lot of great research also on athletic applications, and a lot of that has come out of sports institutions.”
He sees it as another resource for runners and other athletes.
“It's another weapon in your toolkit, in your arsenal, in terms of improving performance and enhancing recovery,” he says. “That's really the two-pronged approach. It helps improve circulation. Compression also helps just stabilizing muscles, providing support to joints. I think we can all appreciate the benefits of that in any athletic application. But the effects, I think, that we like to lean on, is really the recovery. And recovery really starts, not after your exercise, but during, which is a concept that not a lot of people appreciate. But if your body is moving blood efficiently during exercise, then it's taking a little bit less damage. The recovery process is actually starting during exercise and it continues, if you continue to wear your compression into the recovery phase post exercise. Then you're just helping to enhance that natural process that the body goes through.”
A big deal
PRO Compression recently signed a deal with the National Football League. Now it is producing compression socks for the football teams.
“The cool thing about our relationship with NFL, as it relates to our compression socks, is we're the only ones who make compression socks,” Hernandez says. “There are other companies that have licenses to make NFL-licensed socks. And so these are lifestyle, everyday crew socks, and just things that you'd buy at a sporting goods shop and just wear casually. But as far as a premium graduated compression sock, we're the only ones making that right now.”
PRO Compression aims to expand to other major sports leagues this spring.
“We’re excited to be introducing this spring products for Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, NCAA, similar popular college teams. There's a lot of excitement for us to be introducing those licenses as well.”
But the socks are not just for athletes. Nurses, first responders and others who are on their feet for their occupations are also turning to them.
“Our socks are very popular with people who work on their feet all day,” Hernandez says, adding. “Compression wear in general has become very popular with travelers and just people who have sore feet or just trying to manage pain. Even on the medical side, people who have circulatory issues or issues with blood clots, diabetes, things like that.”
In the early days of the pandemic, PRO Compression donated more than 10,000 pairs of compression socks to first responders, health-care workers and others on the front lines.
“The medical community is really near and dear to our heart,” he says. “At the very early stages of the pandemic, the first responders and the frontline workers were on everybody's mind, rightfully so. We just felt like we needed to help in our own little way.”
What makes PRO Compression stand out
As popularity in compression gear has increased, so has the competition. PRO Compression seeks to illuminate itself from the rest.
“We took a different approach,” Hernandez says. “We really wanted to have fun. And so we are very design-centric and fashion-centric. We don't make a whole lot of products, but we've got hundreds of designs.”
Beyond the designs, he says the company also tests and certifies all their socks, via an independent laboratory. Every sock is tested and must meet its stated compression rating.
“Our manufacturing and knitting process are very stringent, because we have to meet those ratings, otherwise we just don't make the socks,” he explains. “That's something that we hang our hat on. And making most of our products here in the U.S., we have that quality control, we have a direct pipeline into our manufacturer. That quality control is very important to the athletes and other customers. That's really what sets us apart day in, day out.”
The fun designs and quality controls are definitely a draw. After our interview, Hernandez sent me a few colorful pair to try out.
While I prefer black or gray socks for my training and racing, I did like the colorful fabrics and designs used by PRO Compression. The socks fit well and were as easy to get on and off as any pair of compression socks I’ve used.
I experienced relief when wearing the compression socks after a long run or hard workout. Whether that’s science or a placebo effect, I’ll leave that up to research. But for me, when my legs need a boost for recovery, I’ll reach for a pair of my PRO Compression socks.