Lily Trotters Compression Socks and Sleeves

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Trail Runner was impressed with the initial performance of these socks/compression sleeves, and Lily Trotters has offered our audience a discount. Our exclusive TR code is TrailRunner25. 

Lily Trotters Compression Socks and Sleeves
Price: $35-40
Material: 93% nylon, 7% spandex
Discount code: TrailRunner25

While the efficacy of compression during exercise may still be up for debate, it can be highly beneficial for recovery and travel. On a recent trip to Switzerland to cover the Sierre-Zinal 31K race, I donned my Lily Trotters S’Mitten Socks for the 20-hour travel day. I had never tried compression for travel before. Upon arrival, I noticed two things: 1) My feet and ankles were not swollen or uncomfortable. 2) My luggage was lost.

To make a long story short, I spent all of the next five days wearing the S’Mittens, until, on the sixth day, I caved and bought a pair of expensive Swiss flip flops. 

I was amazed at the ability of these socks to keep up with my rigorous schedule, to maintain their compression and to limit odor. I wore them on two runs and on all-day travel and reporting days. My feet were happy and my legs were not edematous or tired. And the socks didn’t stink until we were caught in a rainstorm on a run, when they were soaked and finally a bit past due. Hence, the pricey flip flops.

Lily Trotters doesn’t tout their products as low-odor or antibacterial, so I’m not sure how the odor control was maintained, but it was certainly an added benefit. 

The S’Mittens are best worn after a workout or during travel, rather than during exercise, though I didn’t have a problem when I wore them on runs.

Alternatively, the compression sleeves are meant for performance. The sleeves come in several fun designs—stripes and polka dots and chevrons in a range of bright colors. The fabric of the sleeves is soft and a bit stretchy, for easy on and off transitions. The sleeves come in two sizes, S/M and L/XL. If you’re unsure about your size, measure the circumference of your calf at its thickest point, since buying sleeves too small can be harmful and reduce blood flow.

Lily Trotters doesn’t recommend wearing the calf sleeves for post-workout recovery (see the S’Mitten above). Instead, wear the sleeves during a workout to increase blood flow to the heart and minimize lactic acid build up that leads to sore legs later on. On a recent run, the calf sleeves were snug but not too tight, and I noticed that I didn’t stop to stretch my calves as much as normal.

Was this a placebo effect or the real deal? This article found that while the sleeves did produce a significant psychological boost that had nothing to do with physiology,  “wearing compression during exercise did have a small positive effect on running economy, as well as on perceived exertion and lactate clearance (which could speed recovery between high-intensity bursts).”

Conclusion? Lily Trotters won’t make you speedier, but they might help with lactate clearance and perceived exertion—both of which make the run feel smoother and less painful. And, if you forget to pack anything aside from your S’Mitten socks on your next trip, you’ll be in good shape.

Megan Janssen is the Associate Editor of Trail Runner Magazine.

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