Whenever the words ‘compression socks’ come up in a conversation, the first thing that comes to our minds is pregnant women and nurses. However, this is not true. Men and women both, of all age groups, wear them around the globe. Physicians prescribe them for the treatment of several leg conditions, especially in the US.
One of the most common and increasing uses of these among men is in the treatment of edema, swollen feet, and other leg conditions. Compression stockings are a type of compression therapy and have been around since the 1960s.
According to historians, the use of compression bandages dates back to Roman and Egyptian times. These ancient civilizations’ doctors used the socks in some form or another, mostly for wound care. A more visible use can be seen in the treatment of the sick and wounded in the Second World War. After all those years, compression socks have been evolving continuously, and their present form is a refinement of the original concept.
What is Compression Therapy?
Compression therapy is the application of continuous pressure with an elastic garment or bandages wrapped around the limbs. The compression usually increases from the ankle to the knee. This increase in compression creates a gradient, or a difference, in pressure in the blood vessels, capillaries, and lymphatic system. The pressure causes the calf muscle and adjoining veins to squeeze, thus effectively reducing their diameter. This forces the blood in them to flush out towards the low-pressure region quickly. Therefore, the chances of blood pooling, unwanted clotting, heaviness of the legs, and swelling of feet are reduced.
Compression therapy uses one of the following two types to achieve compression on the specific body part:
It consists of a unique type of garment that is usually worn around the feet, ankles, thighs, and calves to improve blood circulation and prevent several medical conditions. Typically, compression hosiery consists of stockings and sleeves.
- Compression bandages
These are also a part of compression therapy. They are wrapped around a specific area to apply a constant gradient pressure. They work best when you have to apply pressure on a particular part of the body, like a limb, arm, foot, or ankle. These bandages are readily available in drugstores and pharmacies. Compression bandages are usually not that pricey and can work as reliable undergarment compression hose. However, the dressings may become loose with movement and start to come down. For instance, if you are using them for your thigh and leg, they may begin to lose their tightness around the knee and thigh part and start to drop down to the feet.
Benefits of Compression Therapy for Men
Compression gear has a rather simple principle, and it is difficult to imagine that a simple pressure application can have much effect on the human body. However, the results of the regular use of compression socks are fascinating. Some of the benefits are:
Prevent edema, swelling, and other medical conditions
The most common use of compression socks among men is for the prevention of edema and swollen feet. They are also useful in controlling and reducing the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, spider veins, Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS), DVT, phlebitis, economy class syndrome, and lymphedema. They are also known for their use as wound care, especially in the management of healed venous ulcers and medical foot care for people with diabetes.
Wear socks and see the change in your look
With the latest designs and custom color schemes for work and home, compression socks can complement your dress. You can look sharp with them or wear them inside your usual attire if you don’t want to reveal them at all. You can also use them with waist attachments under your formalwear or party dresses with ease.
For running and working out
Runners, bikers, and mountaineers are using unique sports compression socks and improving their performance while getting optimum muscle support. If you are a fitness fanatic or bodybuilder, you can choose from a wide range of compression socks models for sportsmen. These socks use exclusively nylon and polymer fibers to keep them airy and prevent sweating. They also provide support to joints and prevent overbending and injury.
For overall well-being and comfort
Men undertake some of the most robust and physically challenging careers in the manufacturing, construction, and production industries. Similarly, male nurses, cashiers, and waiters also have long working hours sometimes in shifts. These day jobs take a toll on your body as well. Limited mobility, standing, or sitting in the same position can also cause heaviness, soreness, and even pain in your legs and feet. Compression socks can keep you from that fatigued and sore feeling. Stay fresh and avoid swelling by trying out a pair yourself.
Effects of the Regular Use of Support Garments
Like any other remedy for almost any ailment or sickness, the socks do require some time to take effect. Another critical factor is that the correct use of the socks is mandatory. If not used properly, the compression stockings will not prove as beneficial as you would expect, leaving you with the same discomfort at the end of your day.
Here are some suggestions and bits of advice if you want the compression socks to work faster and better:
Use the compression stockings regularly
Regular use is essential to reap the full benefits of compression therapy. However, if you do not face edema or swelling too often, you can use them according to your requirements. For instance, some individuals only use compression socks when they are traveling.
Choose your correct size, compression level, and shape
When wearing gradient compression socks, you must choose your size correctly. If you are not sure, you can measure your foot/leg size. You can also request the help of the staff available at the store or look carefully at the size chart when buying online. You also need to know the suitable compression level and shape you need, like toeless or closed-toe socks, etc.
Supplement with oral medicine, exercise, or other
If you are a patient of acute or chronic leg conditions like DVT, venous diseases, varicose veins, or if you have diabetes, then make sure you are conforming to your medical treatment given by a professional health specialist. It is unwise to leave other measures altogether. Your medication, diet plan, exercise (if recommended), and any other treatment is also essential for your health and well-being, and there is no reason to skip them when you are using the socks. However, you should not use any skin ointment or apply creams on your limbs before wearing compression socks.
Adverse Effects from the Use of Compression Stockings
Compression socks are known to have limited or no side effects, however, it is vital to identify and avoid them. Some of the adverse effects are:
- Temporary indentations on the skin’s surface
- Irritation, itching, or redness on the skin
- Wrinkles or broken skin
- Ceased blood circulation
- Involuntary contraction of toes
- Inflammation of feet
- Sweating and a strong odor
- Calluses or corns
Most of these issues arise due to the human errors of misuse of the compression socks. According to the research of the American Journal of Nursing, around 29 percent of individuals misuse compression stockings. This can be due to the way they wear it or due to incorrect size. Another common mistake in the use is that they are too tight or are of a higher compression range, increasing the risk of calluses and corns. More uncomfortable socks may sometimes also cause inflammation, temporary dents on the skin, and partial loss of blood circulation.
Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Compression Hosiery
Although most of the compression socks are available in unisex styles and configurations, manufacturers and designers now offer a completely separate range of support hosiery for ladies and men.
Both men’s and women’s compression garments come in all sizes, lengths, and configurations; however, the men’s size chart goes a bit higher. The lengths include knee-high, thigh-high, and pantyhose options. In the case of men, the pantyhose type is usually known as waist-high leotards and often comes with attachments and belts. Some designs include a convenient zippered fly.
Configurations or styles include open-toe or toeless socks, closed stockings, and sleeves. Toeless stockings are ideal for people who prefer extra wiggle space at the toe region or sweat too much on the toe-fingers. Compression sleeves are also a type of compression garment, but they do not cover the foot region. They only cover the legs from the knee or thigh (depending on the length) to the ankle line. You can use both sleeves and toeless socks in the summers or if you like to wear sandals or flip-flops.
There is another type of compression stockings that comes with extra-wide calves and thighs. These are ideal for people with massive thighs and calves. These socks apply precise compression on the legs and have special cotton padding for the joints.
Another difference between men’s and women’s compression stockings are the colors. Men’s socks usually come in dull, earthy tones like classic black, navy, and royal blue, which are the most common ones. Women’s socks, on the other hand, consist of different brighter shades and colorful patterns with skin-toned and white-colored stockings being the most popular ones.
Your Guide to Choosing Compression Socks
When choosing compression stockings, you need to keep in mind some crucial factors. The most critical among them is the selection of the socks according to your personal needs. You know about your condition or the reason you are buying a pair. It can be edema, minor swelling, your running gear, or a medical condition.
If your disease has progressed or you have been in major surgery due to ulcers, you must talk to your doctor before using compression stockings. Discuss the situation with your physician and then get the socks suitable for your symptoms.
These socks come in different compression ranges. The unit that measures this compression is the same that represents pressure, i.e., millimeters of mercury, or mmHg.
- Mild or light (8 mmHg to 20 mmHg)
- Moderate (20 mmHg to 30 mmHg)
- High (30 mmHg to 40 mmHg)
- Very high (40 mmHg to 50 mmHg)
Along with your doctor’s advice, the appropriate compression range, length (knee, thigh, or waist-high), configuration (toeless, regular, or sleeve), and correct size, you can also consider the following factors. These may not be as important as the ones discussed above, but they can make the whole compression socks experience ideal:
If you are looking for a pair for exercising, you will choose a design that is sporty and doesn’t retain much moisture. Similarly, if you sweat a lot on your feet, a breathable pair can be a lifesaver.
Arch and joint support
Athletes and gym-goers will pay attention to the socks that can provide optimum muscle and mutual support without reducing the flexibility of the limbs
The softness of the fabric
This is more of a personal preference. Some individuals like soft garments that feel nice and cozy. You can also use mild fabric softeners when washing your socks to retain the softness of the stockings.
If you are trying the socks out in a store, carefully check that there is no loose fabric or tightness in some areas. An ideal fit will give even tightness all around the limb and thus reducing the possibility of rips and tears.
Quality of material durability
Check the material composition of the socks. Usually, these garments use durable fibers, making the socks last longer.
Market Availability and Prices
Compression stockings are readily available online and in drugstores. Healthcare facilities, post-surgical recovery units, and private clinics also sell them. Your doctor can also prescribe them, but Medicare and other insurance companies usually do not cover them. This means that you have to pay for them yourself. Some of the manufacturers sell them at higher prices, but if you look closely, you will be able to find some good quality and budget-friendly options online, like on Comprogear.
Compression socks for men can bring about a healthy change in your life. These wearables come with a plethora of health benefits, and they can keep the blood circulation throughout your legs healthy and prevent soreness, edema, and swelling. Support hosiery can be a lifesaver for men, especially ones with hard jobs and shift duties in many essential professions. If you are considering trying a pair yourself, don’t wait any longer and order today. The results will definitely surprise you.