Contrary to what many people think, compression socks did not originate from the 21st century. They, in fact, have a rich and interesting history before they could be known as compression socks. To some extent, their origin can be traced back to ancient civilizations in Rome and Egypt. Here, people used similar leg garments to bind and treat injuries. Roman soldiers used to suffer from swollen feet because they were constantly on their feet when marching into battles. they, therefore, began to bind their legs in order to improve circulation during marches.
Hippocrates, the doctor after whom the famous Hippocratic Oath is named recorded in his medical writings that he used compression bandages to prevent the pooling of blood in his patients. This motivated other doctors to use compression to treat this symptom. Some doctors in the middle ages recorded using tight bandages to treat serious leg pain.
In 1600 CE, an English physician named William Harvey finally proved and documented a link between venous stasis ( a condition of slowed blood flow in the veins, especially in the legs) and compression. It was his discovery and documentation that pushed compression socks into the mainstream and brought the onset of stockings, elastic bands, and bandages with adhesives on them.
Nearly 200 years later, compression therapy was liked to the treatment of the deadly pulmonary embolism. This realization of this increased popularity of compression socks in North America where they had not been as popular.
Since then, compression socks have evolved and changed into a sustainable treatment for blood circulation. Compression therapy goes a long way in treating several conditions. One of these is Venous Insufficiency. This is a condition where the veins have trouble pump[ing blood back to the heart. Ideally, the valves in your veins open and close to allow proper circulation. They open to let blood flow and close to restrict blood from flowing in a certain direction.
Chronic venous insufficiency means that the walls of the veins gradually weaken everyday damaging the valves. This alters the opening, and closing function which does not allow blood to flow back to the heart. The result of this is the veins filling with blood especially when standing.
People who stand for long periods of a time suck as nurses are prone to weakened valves. This is because standing for long periods of time makes it harder for valves to work against gravity and pull up the blood.
Age is also another factor because as people grow older, their bodies become less efficient at functioning well. If you have family members who have suffered from this condition then you are also at risk of developing it. This condition is also fairly common in people who have been diagnosed with obesity. Unmanagable situations such as being pregnant, or being tall can also cause this condition.
Another condition treated with compression therapy is Edema. Technically, the term ‘edema’ refers to swelling. Swelling in the body can occur from injury or inflammation. Edema occurs when the small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues. The extra build-up of fluid makes the tissue swell.
There are two types of edema that compression socks help to treat. The first is Peripheral edema; a condition that affects the feet, legs, and ankles. Though it is uncommon, it can also occur in the arms. This indicates a problem with your circulatory system, kidneys, or lymph nodes.
The second type is Pedal edema, a condition that is more common if you are older or in the third trimester of your pregnancy. This condition causes fluid to gather in your lower legs and feet making it hard to move around because you will lose sensation in your feet.
Peripheral edema often occurs in the legs and so the symptoms are much more visible. The legs look puffy and swollen to a degree that is easily noticeable. With swelling, they will also feel unbearably heavy. They may also itch and burn.
You may notice severe discoloration or bruising in the affected area, followed by tightening of the skin. Peripheral edema may also characterize itself through pitting. Pitting occurs when you press your skin for five seconds or more and your finger leaves an easily noticeable dent in the area. The legs may swell to the extent of hindering walking.
Unfortunately, peripheral edema may occur due to other diseases. One such disease is the previously mentioned Venous Insufficiency. Another is a blood clot. If edema suddenly appears (especially in one leg) causing unbearable pain then it is most likely caused by a blood clot. The blood clot formation is a life-threatening condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Heart failure is another cause of peripheral edema. When the left side of your heart is not pumping well, fluid will accumulate in your lungs making it hard to breathe. However, when the right side of your hears is not functioning as it should, blood will pool at your legs and feet causing edema.
Cirrhosis is another way that you could develop peripheral edema. Cirrhosis is the severe scarring of the liver and the ineffective function of it that is often seen at the last stages of chronic liver diseases. It occurs due to frequent exposure to toxins such as those from a viral infection, or those found in alcohol.
When your liver is damaged from scarring, it can cause you to develop peripheral edema. The scars are as a result of the liver attempting to heal itself. The build-up of scar tissue affects normal blood flow which in turn puts pressure on the veins; especially in the legs. This leads to peripheral edema.
Renal failure may also give you peripheral edema. Renal failure (or chronic kidney disease) is when your kidneys lose their ability to correctly filter waste from the blood. If they do not properly remove these waste products from the blood, the waste fluid builds up causing edema.
Science has proven that many of these conditions can be treated with compression therapy. Simply wearing a prescription pair of socks or stockings can help treat many of these conditions and prevent life-threatening conditions such as pulmonary embolism. Compression socks work by applying pressure on the skin of the legs which in turn increases pressure in blood flow improving circulation.
Think of a half-full bottle of water. If you were to squeeze it at the bottom the water would rise gradually and may even reach the top in you apply enough pressure. The same goes for compression socks and blood flow in the veins of the legs. The pressure that they apply, reduces the diameter of major veins by increasing the volume and velocity of blood flow.
Proper circulation of blood is essential for good leg health in all people. Science has proven that many of the conditions that require compression therapy often affect women more than men. This begs the question, why do men wear compression socks? And if they do not, why should they wear compression socks?
When it comes to alternative treatments and fashion, women are naturally more curious and open-minded to trying new things. Despite the fact that men (in the form of Roman soldiers) were the originators of compression socks, women are the main consumers of these stockings today.
This is because occupations such as nursing have seen more women than men. Same to situations such as pregnancy, and hormonal imbalance that can cause pooling of blood. These and more factors have caused more women than men to buy compression stockings.
There are some men who do wear compression socks and stockings and the main reason is simple. Like women, men also suffer from circulation problems, and leg conditions that require compression therapy. There are men who have turned to compression therapy due to varicose veins, obesity, and other diseases.
Unfortunately, the larger population of men is still against the idea of wearing compression socks or stockings. This is due to established attitudes in society that make men feel embarrassed if they were to wear compression stockings.
Men, have a hard time adopting the idea of wearing compression stockings because they do not want any association with what is traditionally considered ‘female’ undergarments. Nevertheless, men need this type of compression just as badly as women. What is more, they can greatly benefit from this type of wear.
On paper, there are really no logical reasons as to why men should not wear compression hose for preventative or curing purposes. It is a simple ultimatum of either preserving the male ego or preserving proper leg health. If they suffer from the conditions mentioned, they will also require compression wear.
So now that you know you need compression socks, you cannot just buy any pair and start wearing them. The best compression socks for men vary depending on how what you plan to do in them. Some men are athletes, others stand all day, and others are diabetic. These all require different types of compression, fabric, etc.
If you simply want to relive your tired legs, make them feel less heavy, and prevent the development of peripheral edema then you need everyday use compression socks. These socks offer a snug but not tight fit on your legs. The compression level is low enough for regular use; often rated at 15-20 mmHg.
These socks are often designed to look like ordinary knee-high socks with different patterns. They are made of a comfortable fabric blend (mostly consisting of nylon) that breathes well. The best part about these socks is that they are thin but strong. They can be worn with anything.
If you have recently had surgery then you may develop blood clots, gas bubbles, and fat globules. They often block blood vessels and prevent them from functioning properly changing their name to embolisms. This is what is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT. For this condition, you will need anti-embolism stockings.
Anti-embolism stockings are specifically designed to prevent the formation of blood clots and other obstructions. They are designed in a way that does not restrict mobility; you can wear them anywhere you want. This type of compression wear has an expandable thigh panel that helps to relieve pressure in the thighs. This can accommodate people of all shapes and sizes. With many, you will find a silicone band at the top that helps it stay in place.
Compression socks are not just for people who have medical issues. Healthy individuals can also experience the benefits of compression socks. These socks are popularly used by athletes and gym-goers. Many men enjoy athletic exercises, and leg day at the gym. They would enjoy it more with a pair of sporty compression socks that will prevent their feet from swelling and aching after a workout.
These socks have extra support at the arch area to help relieve pain in men who have flat feet, or high arches (conditions common in men). These are often made of nylon, spandex, or a blend of both. These fabrics are comfortable, breathable and will handle sweating well. What is more, wearing sports compression socks will help you recover better and faster especially after an intense workout. They are often rated at 20-30 mmHg which is a little higher than what most people wear.
Running is naturally good for your health. It aids fitness, helps you lose weight, and assists in maintaining a good metabolic rate, the balance of hormones, and stress levels. However, running can cause adverse side-effects such as pain, swelling, and muscle cramps. This can all be prevented by wearing a pair of compression socks. If knee-length running socks are not for you, then you should consider purchasing a low-cut pair.
If you do not like the way full-length socks feel, low cut compression socks are a good option. They are often designed with seamless toe to improve comfort. Unlike regular low cut socks, these compression socks have extra padding on the sides to help protect and reinforce the ankles. The back part is also specially designed to reduce or completely prevent friction caused by shoes that rub and chafe.
Many men do not put into consideration any factors when buying compression socks. However, like when buying a belt, watch, or a pair of shoes, it is important to consider a number of things before purchasing any compression socks or stockings.
First, consider the level of compression. Compression wear is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. Compression wear varies in pressure because different people require different levels of compression. More compression does not always mean better leg health. If you buy a prescription higher than you need, then you will cause harm to your legs. It is always best to consult with your doctor first so they can advise you on which pair is best for you.
Next, consider what you will be using them for. As previously discussed, the type of compression socks you need is determined by what you will be using them for. Some are designed for medical use, others for everyday use. Seek some information about what socks to wear for what purpose.
It goes without saying that the more area compression wear covers, the harder it is to put them on. Full coverage is necessary for some people but not all. Others require a knee-length, low cut, and even just one side. Consult with an expert on what coverage is best for your needs.
If you intend to wear compression socks every day, or at least regularly then you should buy according to your style. One of the best things about the evolution of compression wear is that they come in different colors and patterns. They can be brightly colored or dark and plain; you can choose what matches your style best.
When it comes to material, many compression socks are made of soft nylon. Other fabrics used to make these socks are microfiber, spandex, cotton, and merino wool. Each of these fabrics is effective and acceptable for compression socks but may feel different to you. Try each of them out or at least two options to determine which is best for you. Never settle for something that feels uncomfortable on your skin.
Finally, consider some convenient features in compression wear. Newer designs have features such as side zippers that make it easier to take off and put on. If you have a problem with the wearing process, then such features should pull you towards a pair.