Compression Socks and Garments
Gone are the days when you would think of compression socks and associate them with the elderly ladies wearing thick black ugly compression socks. They would use them for their air travel to give them relief from their swollen legs and varicose veins.
Compression socks can now be worn as a fashion statement as well as being fun with a myriad of colors and designs available now on the market. All this while achieving the health benefits and comfort that you require, either for travel, work, medical reasons, exercise or just play. They are a must for nurses and police officers, or any profession who are on their feet all day long.
What are the benefits of compression socks
Compression socks or sleeves can be worn for all sorts of different reasons, but the focus is to help aid circulation in your legs or arms. They were initially used for medical reasons or for people who were suffering from leg ulcers or varicose veins, then used for traveling on long haul flights to reduce swelling, increase circulation and add comfort.
These days compression socks are being used for many other reasons, for example, in working environments for people who spend a majority of their working schedule on their feet such as nurses or military personnel or jobs when you spend most the day sitting down, like truck drivers, cashiers or people with desk jobs. Compression socks and sleeves are now being used by athletes in a variety of different sports. Compression wear is also great for recreational activities like hiking and rock climbing.
How do they work
Your blood has to work against gravity, the compression socks work by applying an even and gradual pressure from the ankles up the leg from the elastic or lycra support in the garment. This firm support then helps reduce the diameter of your veins, arteries and supports your muscles in your legs or arms, this will help increase the circulation helping pump the blood up to the heart. This pressure also helps avoid the likelihood of blood pooling or blood clots forming in the lower limbs.
On long flights you spend the majority of the time in a sitting position, which means your legs are hanging down and your legs have a limited area to move, making it harder for the blood to be pumped back to your heart, this is a perfect example of how the compression socks are of a huge benefit in making it easier to help pump the blood back to the heart. Keeping in mind though even if you are using compression socks, you still need to get up and move around whilst in the air. You can also do certain little exercises like rolling your ankles, stretching out your toes, or any movement at all will help.
Same thing applies if you are post-op or bedridden, always ensure some movement has been applied either by yourself or with the help of a nurse.
What are compression socks made of?
The compression garments are made of a higher content of elastic, Lycra and spandex components with a strong specialized weave, using either microfiber or cotton for comfort. The garments are now available in many styles, colors and more importantly different compression levels, depending on what uses they are needed for.
You can get different styles of compression socks/sleeves, from the normal-looking sock to the open toe version which just covers the calf muscle or full-length stockings. There is also compress wear like undershorts, leggings or leotards.
Why wear a compression garment for activity
There are many different reasons to wear compression socks/sleeves during strenuous activities, they are a great item to wear when you are hiking, running, cycling or any type of activity. Athletes use compression garments, to promote circulation, helping the body keep an even blood flow throughout during exercise, and many say it reduces soreness after an extensive workout.
Because of the compression, it increases the effectiveness of the circulation and therefore increasing the flow of oxygenated blood to feed your muscles whilst exercising. Increased blood volume also helps to filter out the lactic acid quicker.
The blood is what filters lactic acid out of the muscles and returns it for filtration. The increased blood volume has the ability to remove more lactic acid, helping to reduce soreness and cramping.
Compression garments are also used for people who have medical conditions or after surgery, suffering from varicose veins, ulcers or other health conditions.
The most common use of compression socks is when you are traveling either on long plane or car trips. They are also widely used in certain professions where you are on your feet most of your working schedules, nurses are a good example of this kind of profession.
What are the compression levels?
The compression levels are measured by millimeters of mercury, this measurement is the calculation of pressure, this kind of pressure measurement also used in calculating blood pressure levels. The larger the numbers the higher the compression levels will be for your specific needs, if you are not sure, consult with a professional.
Different Compression levels.
Here is a brief explanation of the different compression levels and what the levels can benefit you?
The higher the compression levels means the stronger the compression will be. The different levels are for different requirements for example:
(mmHG – Millimeters of Mercury)
8 -15 mmHg
This is the lightest type of compression, these are mainly used for minor swelling or achy tired legs, this helps promote better circulation in your limbs.
15 – 20 mmHg
This has slightly more compression and is widely used for people who want relief from varicose veins, swollen legs due to pregnancy and also for air travel. Also can be used for the working professionals that are on their feet all day long.
This level is classed as Medical class I. they are used for relief from DVT (deep vein thrombosis), edema (swelling or fluid retention), bad varicose veins and also (post schlerotherapy, which is the treatment of varicose veins). This level is also used for hiking and endurance sports eg: skiing, cycling or long-distance running.
30 – 40mmHg
This is a Medical class II. This compression level is often prescribed for more extreme cases of varicose veins, DVT and also to heal active Venous Ulcers.
40 – 50mmHg
This is the highest level of compression and these garments are only worn under a doctor’s guidance. This level is to treat post-thrombotic syndrome and chronic venous insufficiency.
Sizing is important, as everybody is different. For example, some people may have larger calf muscles or longer legs. So it is vital that you get the correct sizing for your comfort and benefit. If the socks are too tight they will be cutting off your circulation and be of no use at all.
Or at the other end of the scale they will not be tight enough, therefore will not be supporting your veins and arteries to help the blood be pumped back to your heart efficiently and safely.
There are sizing charts available, so you are able to acquire the right size for you, to acheive all the benefits required.
How do I put them on?
Put your hand inside the sock and grab the toe, pull it inside out, sitting down place your toe inside the end of the sock, then pull the sock over your foot and up the leg, until it is fully on. If you have difficulty due to sweating or dampness a touch of talc may help.
When taking them off, sit down and then just roll or fold them to the ankle and push off using your thumbs, and pulling from the toe.
Who designed the compression sock?
The practice of using compression to help circulation has been used for centuries, the earliest was in the Neolithic period. Mainly by applying bandages made of wool and linen to prevent pooling in the legs, and also the treatment of leg ulcers by using tightly wrapped bandages.
As time went on there were different materials used such as lace stockings, elastic bands, tight bandages with resin. The modern compression socks were designed by a German engineer called Conrad Jobst, who lived in Toledo, Ohio in the 1950s.
Conrad suffered from Venous insufficiency, which is where the vein in his legs was not pumping blood to his heart effectively, therefor he suffered from blood pooling in his legs causing him pain. He found that when he was in a swimming pool the pressure of the water gave him some relief to his legs. This prompted him to design a garment he could wear all the time to help increase the circulation. The result was the first elastic stocking now know as compression stockings.
He also invented the sunroof in cars. He also helped develop gun sights for aerial combat.
Things to consider when wearing compression socks.
Compression socks should not be worn too tight, as it will restrict the flow and also be uncomfortable, so there will be little or no benefit. So pick your compression that is correct for you and your particular activity, some people consult a doctor to confirm the correct pressure required for their particular needs.
You should not wear compression socks when you are sleeping unless you have been directed by your physician for various health reasons or you are recovering from surgery.
The reason being is because when you are laying in a prone position your blood flow is not fighting any gravity issues and not working as hard, so the pressure on your ankles and calves could cut your circulation whilst your body is in a restful state.
Make sure that the sock is worn correctly and evenly, as they can cause soreness on the skin if the sock’s pressure is not even, for example, if the sock is bunched up it will become tighter and possibly cause aggravation to the skin. In older or malnourished patients it can even cause the skin to crack or break. Some people may experience dryness, itching or have an allergic reaction to the material used.
You may experience tingling or loss of circulation, this may be due to the socks being too strong a compression for your needs.
If you have compromised arterial flow in your legs then it is recommended that you do not use compression socks.
What is the most widely used compression level in this kind of garment?
The most popular level of compression gear is the 20 – 30mmHG level, this is the most versatile and is used for many kinds of reasons, this pressure can be worn throughout the day in comfort not being to tight on the legs. There are many athletes that say that compression socks, enhance their performance by improving the blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles, some also say wearing compression gear helps to reduce soreness after a long workout or run.
Medical grade 1. 20 -30mmHg Compression socks.
This widely used compression level, they are worn for all types of reasons, it is classed as Medical Grade 1. This compression is great for managing swelling, spider veins, varicose veins, travel, sports, and activities. Pregnant mothers are finding relief from this grade of compression, easing the feeling of heaviness, swelling and aching in the later part of the pregnancy.
Overall more and more people from all walks of life are now wearing compression socks for a variety of reasons. So get on board and try a pair now and see the difference. They can be bought from your pharmacy, selected supermarkets and also online here is a link to ComproGear.