Wide shot of a triathlete in athletic gear and performance compression socks turning a corner as he's rinning down the street

“I started wearing compression socks in ’08 for recovery. Putting the socks on after pushing so hard is part of the process, one of the triggers to relax.” - Andy Potts, Pro US triathlete 

Compression garments are well known for improving athletes’ performance and shortening muscle recovery time. For triathletes, compression socks and calf sleeves can be especially beneficial. But which should you wear, socks or sleeves? Here’s our breakdown of their pros and cons in triathlons to help you decide. 


Sports compression socks (i.e., socks specifically designed to be worn during physical activity) and calf sleeves have many of the same benefits. Their compression fabric gradually squeezes your foot and calf muscles and applies measured pressure to your veins, which: 

  • Boosts venous return; the rate at which your veins pull blood out of your extremities and towards your heart. This boost improves performance and endurance as your muscle gets oxygen faster, resulting in many additional benefits.
  • Reduces muscle oscillation, which is the uncomfortable vibrations that shoot up your legs when your foot hits the ground.
  • Warms up your calf muscles and provides support, making you less prone to injury. 
  • Prevents excess build-up of lactic acid, reducing recovery time and helping you avoid delayed onset muscle soreness.

Bauerfeind products (especially our performance range) also have the benefit of added moisture-wicking and breathable knit fabric, so your calves won’t overheat while you’re running or cycling. Remember, to get the optimal benefits for your muscles, you must opt for compression garments that are properly sized and adhere to the medical-grade standards of compression. 

Learn more about our patented knit fabric: Technology


For Triathletes, calf sleeves and compression socks do have a few notable differences such as the level of support they provide, how comfortable they are to wear, and how easy they are to slip on and off. 


The key point of difference is that compression socks are able to start graduating the compression at the ankle up towards the calf. Ultimately, this means that venous return back to your heart will be quicker compared to a calf sleeve, which stops just above the ankle. Some socks (like our Full-Length Performance Socks) also provide arch support, reduce excessive strain on the heel, and support your Achilles tendon.

Performance Socks Full Length




That said, calf sleeves do have a few notable benefits in triathlons since you'll be swimming first. If you don't want to swim in them, it's generally easier to pull on a sleeve, which can save you valuable seconds in the race. 

And if you don’t mind swimming in them, calf sleeves are also the better option here. Wet fabric constantly rubbing against your foot can irritate the skin to the point of painful blisters. So, while you can easily transition from the water to dry land without taking a calf sleeve off, socks pose a problem. 

You may also need to check with your triathlon’s organisers on whether you can wear your compression socks or sleeves while in the water. But as Bauerfeind socks and sleeves don’t add buoyancy, you should be fine. 



As we mentioned, both compression socks and calf sleeves can help your legs recover if you wear them in the running and cycling portions of the race. But unlike sleeves, compression socks will also concentrate on the muscle and circulation in the foot, so they'll facilitate muscle recovery there, too. And if your chosen socks have built-in supports, they'll also help you avoid pangs, cramps, and tendon irritation that can occur after a run. 

But if you do opt for wearing calf sleeves in the triathlon, you can still help your feet out by wearing our Sports Recovery Compression Socks after your triathlon.

Sports Recovery Compression Socks


As for the compression garments' recovery, please note that while you can wear them in chlorinated, salt, and fresh water, you’ll need to rinse them after with fresh water. And in general, we do advise hand washing our products after particularly strenuous activity to prolong their lifespan.



Compression socks and calf sleeves can both be very beneficial for triathletes. But factors like comfort, application, and support may make one the better choice for you. 

Ready to choose? 

Look through the Bauerfeind compression range to pick out the best compression sock or calf sleeve for your triathlon. 


More information

If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.

Do you have private health? Most private health extras will cover Bauerfeind Products. Check to see if yours is included. Bauerfeind Private Health Insurance Inquiry. 


Bauerfeind was founded in 1929, and since then, we've worked tirelessly to develop and improve our extensive range of braces, insoles, and compression products. Our mission is to provide you with top-of-the-line supports so you can reach your fitness goals or live life without pain holding you back.

Every product is produced entirely in our facilities in Germany with the guidance of doctors, clinics, and orthopaedic technicians.

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