Did running in compression socks make me dizzy?

You might be able to tell from the title of this post that it was a rough run yesterday.  I was so excited to try out my new compression socks that I got from a local retailer and see how they would help my running.  Specifically I want to try and help my legs on long runs to have better endurance.  The sales guy from the local store said these socks are made for running and specifically long distance runs like a marathon.

Here is a list of several things that may have contributed to my difficult run:

  • Hottest day of the week.  Monday it was in the high 70s and Tuesday in the low 70s.  Yesterday it was back up in the high 80s.
  • I didn’t drink as much water as usual.  I drank 64 oz of water rather than my goal of 96 oz.
  • I had a bad night sleep.  I woke up at 1:00 AM and did manage to get back to sleep, but it was not a very restful sleep.
  • Low carb eating.  I was at my lowest weight ever (176 lbs) and have eaten very few carbs.  Usually if I get below 180, I have difficult runs.

That said, I have NEVER felt as I did yesterday.  I ran a bit fast in the beginning which was not good.  Then as I hit the 3 mile mark, I got light headed and felt really strange.  It was almost like I was in a dream as I ran.  I tried to keep going and did for another half mile, but I got weak and really tired, so I gave up on the run at that point.  After I got home and rested, I felt fine.

So it could be a coincidence that I got so dizzy in my new compression socks.  I know others who swear by them and several other bloggers have suggested I try them.  I will say that my legs felt more relaxed and it seemed to me that I didn’t need to put as much energy into my legs in order to run.  At least that was my impression.

So did my compression socks cause this problem or was it circumstantial?

I have a 7 mile run today and I plan to use them again, so I guess I’ll find out the answer… maybe.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Have a great weekend!

19 thoughts on “Did running in compression socks make me dizzy?

  1. Wow! I’ve run in compression socks and never noticed a big difference. I’m interested in reading other people’s comments on this. Hope your next run goes much better…but make sure you’re better hydrated too!

    • I don’t honestly know if it could be the socks, but it was such a strange feeling that I haven’t ever had before. I wondered if the socks could be messing with my circulation. Thanks for your comment. I also hope others might give their experience. Of course it could be any of the other four factors too!

  2. I think it’s really, really unlikely that the compression socks had anything to do with it, unless they are literally like 3 sizes too small (in which case you probably wouldn’t have been able to get them on). There’s no harm in running in compression socks, but just know that all the research that has been done has shown absolutely no benefit whatsoever–either in performance or recovery–from wearing them while you run. There IS some benefit to wearing them after a hard run for recovery, so you could always just switch to using them that way.

    Hope that helps!

    • That is helpful. Thanks. I have heard both good and neutral things about compression socks, but never bad. It was just so strange. I’m going to try again today and see how it goes. I may take your advice and use them after my run and see how that goes. Once again, thanks for the info.

  3. I wear compression socks when I fly (at a doctor’s recommendation after a long flight that made my feet swell). One thing I can say is they keep my feet very warm, which is pleasant on an airplane, but I can’t wait to get them off when I get to a warm destination. So perhaps they exaggerated the effect of the warmer temperatures on you?

    • Funny, I was just writing my post for today about that. I think it was the heat and my lack of food that really caused it. Thanks.

      BTW, you have a great memory. 🙂

  4. I haven’t worn compression socks as of yet, but from what I know about them, I think the heat had lots to do with it. I have had a similar experience and it was a combination of the heat and dehydration. Lesson learned the hard way for me! 🙂

  5. I did Goofy in 2013 – my first full marathon. During the half, I developed a shin splint. All I could think about was “Oh man I’m in trouble – I have to go 26.2 miles in the morning!”. I put on my compression sleeves after the race and felt better. The next morning, I was nervous about the race (distance, heat [although all my races seem to be in “abnormally warm temperatures”], and the shin splint). I decided to wear my sleeves during the race – not the smartest idea since I’ve never used them while running. My logic was that a gazillion people use them during the run so it must be ok. I got started (doing a 20:40 second run walk interval) and at 1.5 miles I felt light headed. I ate something and kept going. I did back to back training and never felt like this. At mile 3 I got really bad. I’ve never passed out and was wondering how dizzy does one get before hitting the pavement. I’ve never felt this strange – almost like an outer body experience. I ate something and just walked. Everything intensified as I walked. I began to think about sitting down, but I was afraid I wouldn’t get up. I thought about withdrawing from the race. I remembered someone telling me that she couldn’t run in compression gear, so I rolled mine down my legs. After a couple of minutes, I felt a little better. I just walked for the next mile or so. By mile 6 I was feeling great and I picked my intervals back up and finished my first full. Lesson learned – for me I can’t run in compression gear. Maybe it was the brand or type. I know that they weren’t too small – I measured a few times before I ordered. I chalk it up to the fact that everyone is different in some way. Even if everyone else on the planet can do something – one person won’t be able to. And with my history of abnormal symptoms, it comes as no surprise that I couldn’t do it. Just wanted to share my story. I hope that it worked the next time you tried it.

    • I think I chalked my issue up to running with them during the summer. The heat just messes with me in general (as many runners) and I just added to it with the socks. I have run in them some during the winter and it has been okay. Overall I just use them to recover from long runs.

      Thanks for the comment. Very interesting as not many people seem to experience this. I really appreciate it and hope you are still doing marathons!

  6. Compression wear draws blood to the area that the clothes are worn. If the socks were too tight it’s possible that too much blood was in the lower legs (and not in upper extremities/head) and this the dizzy feeling.

    Same way heavy leg day at the gym makes bodybuilders super lightheaded (and often nausea) after a workout session. All of the blood leaves the gut and other areas to rush to the legs which need the attention.

    • Thanks Jason. That is helpful. I have realized since I wrote this post that I only have dizziness issues with compression socks in the summer. I think the heat must be an issue, because in the cooler weather I can wear them without a problem.

      Funny though, this is one of my most referred post from Google. I think a lot of people have the same issue.

  7. I ran yesterday with my new CWX compression capris and it was the worst run of my life. Temp was in the mid 80’s, I had enough to eat all day, even a protein shake an hour before my run. The capris made my run harder, uncomfortable, so i stopped running and walked half of the usual distance.
    When i got home, i felt very noxious after taking a shower. I had nausea and felt sick to my stomach for quite a while. I had to lay down for 30 minutes to feel a bit better. I don’t think I’ll ever use the compression gear again as it doesn’t seem to be for me!

    • Interesting, but of my entire blog, this post is consistently googled and viewed every day. I think the dizziness has something to do with the temperature. I’ve used compression socks on cold days with no issues. I hope you are feeling better. 🙂

  8. Why I ended up here? I’m not a runner but I have RA had surgery on my foot 3 mos ago and had my big toe fused with 2 screws.. My brother bought me a pair of copper sox for swelling/pain. I tried them on one evening and after about an hr I was overcome with feeling woozy (dizzy/nausea),,i took off the copper socks and stumbled into bed. I woke up feeling okay. I found this blog as I was looking to see if others had any similar incidents with these socks. Interestingly so. Heat was not a factor for me and they weren’t too tight. I often have strange inexplicable stuff happen and feel like I’m living in some kind of twilight zone. I figured this was another of those instances, but I guess in some sense I’m not alone. All I really know is I’m not putting them on again!

  9. I experienced those dizzy feelings and lightheaded spells without compression socks. I looked up this page to see if there were any benefits in wearing them. As we run, the blood gravitates to the legs. The solution I found was to lay flat with my legs raised in order to tilt the blood back to the heart. It is a temporary relief as the twilight feeling lasted for a couple of days . What are the real benefits derived from compression socks while running?

    • Thanks for the info. Actually that was a long while ago and I can’t remember why I tried them. But this old post from my old blog has gotten way more hits than any other, so it must be a real issue.

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