Compression therapy is a practical and efficient means to improve blood circulation through the limbs.
Compression therapy requires special compression sleeves to apply continuous pressure on the arms and legs of the wearer. This technique can be especially helpful for athletes, post-surgery rehabilitation, pregnant mothers, and edema patients for the treatment of swollen feet. Compression therapy is a kind of wound care that is clinically proven to have medical benefits, and physicians around the globe prescribe this for their patients.
What Is a Compression Sleeve?
Compression hosiery consists of particular types of garments that you can use for your arms and legs.
Most people use compression on their lower extremities (legs and feet). Compression hosiery most commonly includes compression socks and sleeves. Compression stockings are available in different styles, like toeless or regular socks.
Compression sleeves are similar to compression stockings, but the sleeves lack the foot part and end just around the ankle. Pressure sleeves come in handy for people who cannot wear regular stockings due to their personal preference or a foot condition.
Compression hosiery is comprised of unique elastic material that applies pressure to the skin. It constricts the surface veins and blood vessels. This compression reduces the diameter of the vessels and increases the pressure of the blood inside them, improving the circulation.
You might be wondering how a simple pressure application can improve the blood circulation through your legs and feet. The reason is that this pressure application doesn’t allow the fluids to pool in your feet and pushes the deoxygenated blood back towards the core of the body. The heart then pumps enriched blood to the feet, reducing the symptoms of edema, swelling, heaviness, soreness, and pain.
Benefits of Compression Sleeves
Medical Benefits of Sleeves
Besides swollen legs and feet, compression sleeves can help treat several other diseases and foot conditions.
Chronic venous diseases and peripheral venous insufficiency are common in people that have weak vein walls and valves. This condition can be due to injury, surgery (in knees, legs, calf, shin, ankle, foot, and even the toe region), blood clotting, or long periods of inactivity. These conditions prevent the blood from leaving the feet and fresh blood from taking its place.
The most common use of compression socks and sleeves is in the treatment of edema and the swelling of the feet. They cannot only prevent the disease from progressing but also promote rehabilitation.
Regular use of compression sleeves can make a significant impact on varicose vein patients, as well. Varicose veins not only look unappealing, but they can also be painful. Furthermore, they increase the risk of clotting, inflammation, and phlebitis.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and lymphedema are the conditions characterized by the accumulation of blood and lymph fluid in the limbs, respectively. When someone has DVT, clots develop inside the veins due to the unwanted pooling, and this can cause inflammation or pain. When someone has lymphedema, they experience heaviness and even pain. Compression socks can reduce the risks of both these diseases.
Recovery and Improved Performance
The origin of compression therapy lies in post-surgical recovery and pregnancy. One of the first uses of compression hosiery is known to be in postoperative rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and for the care of pregnant mothers.
Due to a lack of movement and constant bed rest after significant surgeries, people may develop swollen feet and ankles. Compression stockings thus play a vital role in keeping their blood circulation healthy and preventing any discomfort. Doctors regularly prescribe pregnant mothers compression stockings and recommend daily wear.
Another exciting application of compression socks is in sports. Compression stockings have become a regular part of athletes’ and runners’ kits. They not only provide muscular support to the limbs, but they also prevent the joints from moving unnaturally. The wearer can thus improve performance while reducing the risks of injury and sprains.
Unique compression sleeves for athletes may have breathable fabric or sporty design. They also prevent the muscles from tightening up too much, thus saving you from cramps and overstretching.
Compression stockings can offer protection from cuts, injuries, and cold temperatures, which is one of the indirect benefits of these socks.
For instance, diabetic patients require special foot care. They can use compression socks to protect their legs and feet from getting cuts or minor injuries. Similarly, climbers, trackers, and off-road bikers can use the stockings to protect their legs, feet, and ankles. The sleeves can also protect your skin from insect and mosquito bites or bumps and cuts while playing sports.
If you think that compression socks are just a remedy for swollen feet and other conditions, you are wrong. They can also complement your style and wardrobe because compression stockings are available in trendy designs and colors. Nurses and medical staff wear compression socks as a part of their uniform, but they can also reflect your personality. So, if you want to look sharp, get your pair today.
Compression Stockings Versus Sleeves
As explained earlier, there is only a difference in the coverage area between pressure sleeves and compression socks. Whether or not compression sleeves are your first choice when choosing compression garments may depend on several reasons, such as the following:
- Personal Preference
The selection of sleeves will depend on the individual’s preference. Some people like a bit of extra wiggle room, others have sensitive feet, and still, others may like to wear sandals or flip flops. Some people don’t want to keep their feet in a tight band due to the cramped feeling. Sleeves and open-toe socks work pretty well for these people.
- Perspiration on Toes and Feet
Sweating is another big issue for some people, especially in the foot and toe area. These individuals like to wear sleeves rather than closed-toe socks. Sleeves are perfect for regular wear in summers and during your leisure time. If you are on vacation on a beach and you want to feel the sand on your feet, then go for the sleeves.
- Foot Conditions
Corns, bunions, hammertoes, warts, allergies, skin rashes, ingrown nails, and other skin and nail issues can force you to wear sleeves. Furthermore, you cannot use any ointments or medicated creams before wearing regular compression sleeves. So if you have any of these problems and are applying external medication for them, you should choose sleeves rather than stockings.
Compression sleeves, like regular compression socks, are available in a variety of sizes, lengths, colors, and compression levels. You must know the exact measurement of your foot, the right level of compression (light, medium/moderate, high), and the length that is preferable for you. Socks are also available in knee-high and thigh-high configurations.
If you buy a pair that is not the correct fit, the pressure gradient may not work appropriately on your calf muscles and legs as a whole. This will render the sleeves useless, and your money will go to waste. So, make sure you get the correct fit.
Whether you are ordering compression socks online or buying them from a drug store, make sure you get the right size and compression level. You can also consult your physician about the compression level suitable for your specific symptoms and conditions.
Start using compression sleeves today and feel the improvement. Say goodbye to swollen feet!