Ever since I had the opportunity to review some other wool socks a few months back, I’ve been in love with Merino. So when Brian brought me back a pair of Swiftwick’s Pursuit Seven compression socks from Interbike, I was thrilled to try them out. They looked so cozy I wanted to pull them on right then and there, but I managed to restrain myself (barely). These 7 inch high brown socks are made from Australian Merino wool, chosen for its long strand length to make them both soft and durable. Swiftwick’s website says medium is for women’s shoe size 8-10. I wear a size 9 and they fit perfectly. I was a little concerned that they would be uncomfortably tight on my calves as I have pretty thick legs, but there was no problem there.
Compression socks were initially created for diabetics to help increase blood flow in the legs, but now many athletes wear them because extra blood flow can lead to better performance and recovery. Some people prefer compression socks during their workouts; some people use them afterwards for recovery. As I had never used them before I decided I would try both.
First thing I noticed, these socks have a completely padded, molded footbed. Now, a lot of socks out there say they are padded and they feel good when you first put them on, but within minutes, they just feel like normal socks. That is not the case with these. I put them on after a long run and wore them for a full day at work and several miles of walking, and even on my way home that night I could feel the extra padding. I was blown away. Also, wool = itchy no more. Swiftwick has it figured out, and these socks were itch-free, even when I was sweating.
After my long runs, my ankles and shins can get pretty achy, with mild anterior shin splints cropping up after the longest ones. (No, I’m not as old as that makes me sound, I just generally push myself farther than I probably should when I’m trying to increase my mileage or decrease my time). When I pulled these socks on after overdoing it, they felt comfortably snug, cozy even. So comfortable, in fact, that I was concerned it wouldn’t be enough compression to actually make a difference. However, not only did those first twinges of shin pain not increase throughout the day as they usually do, they actually went away without having to take any medication. The only other concern I had was the length. I normally wear low cut socks because I hate it when socks get all bunch and slidey (yes that’s a word) after wearing them for a while. No such problem with these – they stayed put the whole day, and the next few times I wore them without laundering in between. Because they worked so well, I tried them again a day later when the weather was changing and I was getting my standard “there’s a storm coming” pain up my leg. (I have an injury that healed weird, and now I can predict the weather nearly as well as most meteorologists). I’m not sure if it was extra blood flow from the compression, or just the comfortable warmth and cozy snugness that soothed it, but either way, it helped enough that I could rest. Excellent recovery socks? Yep.
Even understanding the way wool works as a natural heat regulator and an excellent wicking agent, I was concerned about wearing tall socks to run in. It was cool enough that I figured I’d survive, but still not cool enough that I thought I’d enjoy the experience. Again, the socks were comfortably snug and stayed in place throughout the run. While the snug comfort was nice, and I didn’t die of heat (actually, they regulated temperature quite well), I didn’t really notice a performance difference. But then, it was just a casual run, so it’s not like I was pushing for anything in particular that day.
Swiftwick has “The best sock you’ll ever wear guarantee.” If you buy a pair and aren’t satisfied, you can send them (laundered, please) back to the company and they will replace it with a pair of your choice. Even if that choice is a competitor. Seriously. Also, +1 bonus for the company, all their socks are made in the USA. Long story short, I think I know what I’m asking for this Christmas. With all the warm, cozy goodness in the Sevens, I’d love to get my legs in a pair of the Pursuit 12s, and my arms into a pair of their performance sleeves, so I can really enjoy my own “dashing through the snow”. swiftwick.com