Compression wear offers many benefits to both laborers and athletes. If you are someone who is prone to standing a lot giving you swollen feet, then you would benefit from compression socks. Athletes who also spend most of their time training have an easier time with compression socks.
Compression socks improve blood circulation, keep your muscles healthy, and help with recovery, diseases, and tired feet. They have graduated pressure that keeps you feeling stable and supported. This graduated pressure is what makes compression wear so snug, and difficult to put on.
Why are compression socks so snug?
If you are new to compression wear, then you should know that they are just as the name suggests. Compression wear is tight; they ‘compress’. Everyone who has worn the right pair of compression socks will tell you that they are tight or snug. This is necessary because of how they function.
The veins have valves that are responsible for opening and closing to let blood flow through. They carry blood into the heart from all parts of the body. One of these is the legs. As is with any liquid, it is difficult for blood to flow upwards. Therefore, the blood in the legs has difficulty flowing against gravity. It is worse if the walls of your veins have begun to deteriorate. When they deteriorate, the valves weaken which in turn alters their ability to open and close appropriately.
Without this function, blood does not travel to the heart as it should which creates a build-up of fluid in the feet and ankles. This leads to swelling, and pain; a condition known as peripheral edema. Diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and varicose veins can cause peripheral edema.
This condition is accompanied by itchiness around the affected area, when you press the swollen area it leaves a dent (pitting), the affected area feels tight or warm, heaviness in the legs, bruising or discoloration in the affected area, and pain. Other than athletes and laborers, there are some people who may develop peripheral edema due to several factors.
Pregnancy is one such factor. Pregnant women retain extra fluid that is needed by the fetus. Almost 50% of all pregnant women develop peripheral edema. Hormonal changes in women, such as during menstruation, increases fluid retention that can cause swelling in the legs and feet.
If you consume too much salt, them your body will retain more fluid than it should, leading to edema. Peripheral edema can also be the side-effect of drugs. Compression socks are tight because their function is to improve blood flow and prevent retention of fluids.
Compression socks are tight enough to apply pressure onto the veins. By doing this, they reduce the diameter of the veins and strengthen their walls. This gradually increases the pressure of blood flow making the upward flow easy and more efficient. It is similar to squeezing a hose to let water flow at a higher pressure.
While compression wear should naturally be tighter than normal socks, they should not be too tight. If you are new to compression socks, then they should feel uncomfortable to wear in the first few days. However, if you still feel as uncomfortable as you did on the first day after a week, then they are not the right size for you and you should get a better pair.
There are also a few other things you can look out for to determine if you are wearing the right size. When regular socks slide down, it means that the elastic has worn out. They are annoying to wear. The same goes for compression socks; if they are sliding down then it is time for you to get a new pair because the elastic has worn out. If they are brand new and sliding down, then it means that you got a big pair.
Compression socks should always be taut and flat. This way, they do not present any unnecessary discomfort. If your compression socks bunch up, it means that they are too long. Bunched up compression socks cut off circulation to the heart and create unwanted knots.
If you cannot see any results after wearing compression socks, then you definitely have the wrong pair. You may want to seek a stronger compression sock. However, always speak to your physician before you get a stronger sock. A physician will determine exactly what level of compression you need.
Your compression socks should be difficult to put on, but not impossible. If they are completely impossible to put on, then you are wearing too small a size. In this case, do not shy away from a bigger size; it will feel more comfortable and easy to put on.
Challenging myths of compression
Like all good things, there are many myths about compression wear. It is difficult to tell where these myths came from but they have kept people from enjoying the benefits of compression socks. There are some who still have reservations about compression socks based on these myths.
One such myth is that compression socks cut off the circulation of blood. It is easy to think that compression wear does the opposite of what they are supposed to do simply because they are tight.
Compression wear can cut the circulation of blood, but only if you are wearing a size that is too small for you. It could also be that you are wearing them incorrectly, or that it has formed a knot. Proper fitting compression socks do not cut off circulation; instead, they improve it. A pair of compression socks should feel snug, flat, and should never be rolled down or folded over.
Another myth is that compression socks cure leg ulcers and varicose veins. It is comforting to believe that something as simple as a pair of compression socks can cure varicose veins or get rid of leg ulcers. Unfortunately, though they are great at compression therapy, they cannot treat these diseases. However, if you do suffer from leg ulcers or varicose veins, then you should still get a pair.
Because compression stocking improves circulation, you can expect healthier looking legs if you suffer from varicose veins or leg ulcers. You will notice a reduction in swelling, reduced leg discomfort and aching, and more regular skin color as opposed to discoloration and bruising.
When most people think about compression socks, they think about the elderly. It is popularly misconceived that only the elderly wear compression socks. Because of this, younger people may feel that they should not wear compression socks. While people who are older are more prone to peripheral edema, it does not mean that they are the only ones who should wear compression socks.
As discussed earlier, age is not the only factor that determines whether you develop edema or not. Therefore, compression socks are not just for the elderly. They are for anyone who needs them, regardless of age, and especially when recommended by a doctor.
Today’s compression socks are available in fun and bright colors. They also feature several patterns including festive, pop culture, and so much more. Therefore, the notion that compression socks are plain, and boring is completely wrong. There is something for everyone, from plain beige ones to polka dots and rainbow colors.
Many people avoid wearing compression socks in the summer because it is a popular myth that compression socks and summer do not mix. Doctors have confirmed that the heat of summer puts additional strain on weakened vein walls and valves. Therefore, despite the sweat and strain, you should wear compression socks in summer too.
What’s more, compression socks have evolved in terms of style and fabric. There are many options that will make wearing them in the summer easier. There are breathable fabrics that are absorbent of sweat and breathable in heat. Options such as sleeves, toeless, and open toe will allow your feet to breathe easily in the heat.
Lastly, people believe that it is too hard to put on and take off compression socks. This myth comes down to size; you may be wearing a size that is too small for you, making it difficult to take off and put on. If you do have the right size, then you require a little patience and technique.
Some people choose to use helping tools which are encouraged if you are struggling. Others have mastered a technique that lets them put on and take off compression stocking easily. When in doubt, you can always seek the help of a professional who will show you how to put them on.
Easy On Compression Socks
Easy on compression socks are those that have been slightly modified to make wearing easy. People struggle to put on compression socks even when they are the right size. Perhaps you cannot get a good grip on them or you have trouble bending over. Others cannot get the sock over their leg without it bunching up and forming knots.
Easy on compression wear includes fastenings that make the wearing process easy; and taking off even easier. There are two main forms of compression socks with fasteners. These two are popular because they are easy to maintain, easy to work with and make putting on compression socks a breeze.
One of the most common versions of this is the compression sock with a zipper. Zipper compression socks are perfect for people who have weak hands or arthritis and have trouble putting on compression socks.
People who have sensitive skin will also find it easier to put on zipper compression socks. In most zipper compression socks, the zipper starts just above the ankle and ends at the top in both socks and stockings. One of the benefits of a zipper compression sock is that it can be easily hidden under your clothes. Some compression socks even have an invisible zipper design that almost looks like a regular compression sock, but easier to put on.
When buying zipper compression stockings, you should ensure that the zipper glides smoothly. A stuck zipper could lead to bunching up which can, in turn, cut blood flow. A good zipper will stay in place after zipping up, offering a secure ‘lock’. If you notice that the zipper keeps gliding down then you need to find another pair with a better zipper.
Compression wear with zippers is also very durable. Good zippers can weather wearing, and regular washing without rusting or breaking. A good zipper will not leave spaces and so the level of pressure will be as it should be throughout.
Another easy-on compression garment is the compression wrap. The compression wap is a form of compression wear that uses velcro as a fastening turning it into an easy to wear a compression garment. Compression wraps eliminate the need to wrestle with regular compression stockings.
Compression wraps are not pulled on, instead, they are attached with velcro style straps. This means that they can be adjusted according to your needs. This type of compression wear is perfect for people who struggle with getting their compression socks flat. It is also good for people who regularly want to relieve tired legs and swollen feet.
When buying velcro compression socks, it is important to ensure that you get the best type of velcro. Velcro is known to wear down faster than zippers; therefore, ensure that you are buying high-quality velcro that will serve you for a long time. Good velcro is easy to use; it should not be difficult to put on these compression socks.
Good velcro is also strong. If you notice that your straps keep detaching from each other, then you need to purchase another pair with stronger velcro that remains sealed together tightly. The greatest benefit of velcro is that it is easy to maintain; just wash as you would your other compression socks.
If you do not yet have these easy on compression socks, then you do not have to give up on your leg health just yet. There are a few tips and tricks you can put in place to make your regular compression socks easy on compression socks.
All doctors and experts recommend wearing compression socks in the morning; preferably before doing anything. This is because, after sleeping, your legs and feet are less swollen. Therefore, your legs are least swollen in the morning. Putting on your compression socks at this time will be much easier than any other time of the day. When you sleep, elevate your legs using a pillow to ensure less swelling in the morning for easier donning.
If you happen to forget to put them on first thing in the morning then you need to sit for a while. Elevate your legs to improve blood flow and reduce swelling. After 30 minutes, you can now put on the socks.
Putting on regular socks on wet feet and legs is tasking. Now imagine doing the same with compression socks. It will be more difficult than it should be. Therefore, if your legs or feet have some moisture on them, sprinkle some talcum powder before putting on the socks. You can also use corn starch. They both absorb any moisture on your skin. This will allow the compression socks to glide up your feet and legs easily.
If your legs are dry (especially during winter) then you should use a little moisturizing lotion to help the stockings glide up easily. When you put on compression socks, it is important that you sit on a chair with firm back support. A chair will allow you to reach down at your feet and support your back as you pull up the socks.
For some people, putting on compression socks is harder. If you are still having trouble putting on compression socks after a week of practicing, then you should consider using a sock aid. Sock aids help with the putting on and taking off of compression socks without bending over or using your own hands. They feature a well-thought-out design that allows you to put on the compression socks hands-free and take them off without wrestling.
Another sock aid you can incorporate is a pair of rubber gloves or donning gloves. Donning gloves are specially designed gloves that give you a better grip on the compression socks. They make wearing and taking off easy and fast. If you do not have donning gloves, then a pair of rubber gloves; such as the ones you use for chores is a good substitute. The offer just as good a grip and are very affordable. When using rubber gloves, ensure that they are clean and free from moisture.
In conclusion, compression socks are tight, but they have to be in order to function properly. The compression they offer makes it hard to put them on but not impossible. If you follow a few tricks, maintain your compression wear well, you can turn the wearing and taking off process into a simple task.
If however, you still struggle with wearing, then do not sacrifice your leg health. Consider a pair of easy on compression socks to ensure optimum blood circulation and good leg health.