Compression socks or sleeves? I have always worn compression socks, but I have wondered about calf sleeves and the reasons you would choose one over the other. They are both great options for reducing muscle fatigue, but it was still a matter of curiosity for me! After a little investigation, I uncovered a very simple answer.
My Personal Preference
It comes down to your own personal preference. There are no added benefits offered by the socks, although some of the socks do come with additional padding on parts of the foot that get a little beat up on long runs (heels and toes). I like this feature of the Saucony Elite compression socks I have. I will say that both socks and sleeves can a get a little hot when you are running in the summer. In warmer temps I prefer to wear sleeves, so that there is a little break between the sleeves and socks for air exchange.
The compression socks are an all in one deal, so if you like the ease of one article of clothing for the feet/legs, they probably make more sense for you. Alternatively, some people are really partial to a certain type of sock and therefore would rather have the ability to keep their favorite socks and still get the benefit of compression.
When to Use Compression Socks
Interestingly enough, there is a difference in the compression grade of some socks and sleeves, so you should check to see if your apparel is recommended for activity and/or recovery. There is also a thought that compression socks may be better for longer runs because calf sleeves could cause more blood to pool in your feet. I think I would tend to agree with this and use the compression sleeves for shorter runs and the compression socks for longer runs.
I like to use compression socks during my actual long run, whereas some people like to wear them for recovery after a long run or race. Whether you do one or the other (or both!); compression is a great recovery tool, so find a pair of socks or sleeves that you like and see for yourself!