The Claim Just in time for the Marine Corps Marathon, hype is building for Oxysox, pressurized knee socks said to enhance athletic performance. Meb Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, wore them on the cover of the September issue of Runner's World. Oxysox, based in Troy, Mich., claims that by exerting graduated pressure -- more on the foot and ankle, less around the calf -- the socks boost calf muscle circulation and aerobic output and speed recovery, just as support hose do for people with vein ailments. Oh, yes, and the sock fabric wicks moisture. The wicking part we buy -- but what about the rest?

The Check Ample research shows medical pressurized stockings help reduce swelling, boost circulation and lessen fatigue and pain in patients with vein problems, according to Catherine Jackson, professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fresno, and a spokeswoman for the American College of Sports Medicine. But research on the benefits of support hose for athletes is less solid.

Graham Kelly, the Lansing, Mich., vein specialist who developed the product and is president of Oxysox, cites a New Zealand study in which 14 runners who wore medical graduated compression stockings reported less post-run soreness. They also ran a bit faster, with lower heart rates than other runners. Kelly said a small, company-funded study at Michigan State University found Oxysox improved calf muscle circulation while increasing the maximal rate of oxygen consumption, a measure of aerobic capacity. But the study was not published. While Oxysox claims can't be verified without further study, Jackson thinks the maker is onto something. "Why athletes did not try [compression stockings] sooner is beyond me," she said.

The Cost So far, Fleet Feet is the only local retailer selling Oxysox -- for almost $20 a pair.

-- Suz Redfearn