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Why Wear Compression Socks? – (Read this Now!)

People hear compression socks/stockings and are quick to say they think that its for kids. They fail to realize that compression socks and stockings are beneficial no matter your age or activity level. We all want to live in good health…don’t we?

Women wearing compression stockings

Well, this article is a version of living healthy and in the end, you will know why it is important health-wise to wear compression socks/stockings for the legs.

What are Compression Socks/Stockings?

Blue color compression socks

Compression socks/stockings are specially made medical devices designed to prevent and reduce the occurrence of certain leg disorders such as varicose veins, venous reflux disease, edema, and thrombosis. Unlike the traditional socks or stockings, they are made with elastic and worn around the leg to create pressure on the legs, ankle, and feet. They also help provide extra support and help to enhance blood circulation.

Wearing compression stockings

Compression socks and stockings should not be confused with tradition socks and stockings as they are quite similar in appearance. These socks are created to provide graduated pressure on the legs and feet. There are several socks that give little amounts of compression, but their effects can not be considered as therapeutic.

How do They Work?

With/without compression socks

It is very important to understand how they work and you can know this by understanding the application of their graduated pressure. Every day, the body pumps blood to every part of the body equally. However, gravity causes a high amount of blood to gather in the lower legs and feet and this can cause different circulatory issues. These blood gathering can also cause fatigue and leg cramps. Raising the legs could help to temporarily release the pain but most times it returns after walking or standing for a few hours.

By exerting compression pressures on your legs, they are proven helpful to improve your blood circulation in the lower extremities against the pull of gravity. At the same time, they help straighten out the vein walls to a better working state. The gentle compression pressure applied allows the valves to function properly by opening to allow blood flow toward the heart and closing to prevent blood from flowing backward. This allows circulation to work as it should and is proven helpful to prevent horrible leg diseases.

The use of compression socks to alleviate these leg issues cannot be underestimated. We said earlier that these socks make use of the elastic strengths of rubber or spandex to create pressure on the leg and ankles. When the surface veins and muscles are compressed, blood is forced to pass through narrower channels. This, in turn, increases the pressure in the arteries, causing more blood to return to the heart and less blood in the leg. They are very tight at the ankles, but the applied pressure gradually reduces towards the knees. The soles of compression socks are also heavily padded; this helps it serve as a better shock absorber.

Who Should Wear Them?

There is 2 category of people who should consider compression therapy:

The first category of people utilizes compression socks as a preventive measure to keep their legs healthy always. The second group has not been fortunate as regards their leg health. They are already managing signs and symptoms like varicosities and/or swelling. Physicians usually advise these second category of individuals to use compression therapy as it can help ease them of the pains.

Preventive Health Reasons as To Why You Should Wear Them

You should consider compression therapy for preventive care if you fall under this 4 category:

Photo of a man wearing shoes

1. Careers

If you have a job that requires you standing or sitting in one position for long hours, you are at risk of having tired, achy, heavy and swollen legs at close time. Professions that fall in this category include waiters/waitresses, chefs, porters, receptionists, cashiers, tellers, health care workers and so on. You can prevent this by putting on compression stockings, which can help your legs feel better as they help stimulate blood circulation.

Pregnant women
Photo of pregnant woman

2. Pregnancy

Wearing compression stockings/socks during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester to prevent varicose vein thrombosis of the legs after delivery. This is why pregnant women wearing compression stockings/socks are highly recommended by doctors.

Photo of flight passenger

3. Extended Travel 

If you are a regular traveler either by plane, train or bus and you have to sit down for long hours at a time, you are at risk at developing blood clots, which is called Economy class syndrome (also known as Deep vein thrombosis). However, studies have shown that compression therapy can help prevent or minimize the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis during long-distance travel.

Group of athletes
Photo of athletes

4. Athletes and Sports Enthusiasts

We are all familiar with the use of compression legwear (socks, sleeves, shorts, tights) in different types of sports. They help to improve performance through increased blood circulation. They help to reduce muscle fatigue and prevent muscle damage, which is directly relevant to your health. Studies have shown that using compression socks/leg sleeves can also help boost recovery after exercise as well as reduce muscle soreness.

Photo of man with obesity

5. People with Obesity

People who have obesity are recommended to wear circulation socks/stockings to prevent blood clots in the legs and to accelerate better blood circulation due to high levels of blood cholesterol and blood lipids, increased blood viscosity and excessive weight. All of those make it difficult for the venous blood to flow back to the heart, leading to venous/vein diseases of the legs.

Health Benefits of Using Them:

legs and feet with varicose veins
Varicose veins

Vein Diseases

The most common vein diseases- Varicose veins and spider veins. Compression socks help to reduce the length of weakened and enlarged blood vessels to a much more normal level. This allows for a more efficient flow of blood in the body. Note that this can only be effective if they are worn consistently every day.

Venous reflux disease

Venous reflux disease (Chronic venous insufficiency)

These come in the form of leg aches, heavy feeling legs, dilated veins, color changes on the leg skin, leg rashes, swellings, infections, and leg ulcers. Compression stockings/socks if worn on a regular basis, can enhance blood circulation and prevent reverse flow in the leg veins.

Doctor writing the word diabetes
Doctor writing diabetes

Diabetes

Most times, diabetic patients are usually advised by their physicians to wear compression socks/stockings. These diabetic circulation socks/stockings are designed in a way that they apply just enough compression that can allow maximum flow of blood in the legs. They are built with light and breathable materials that allow the exit of moisture, heat dissipation as well as reduces or prevent feet swelling. 

Graphics of Deep vein thrombosis

DVT, also known as Economy class syndrome

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. If the vein swells. the condition is called thrombophlebitis. A deep vein thrombosis can break loose and cause a serious problem in the lung, called a pulmonary embolism. Using compression stockings/socks can help prevent and treat deep vein thrombosis.

Healthy vs Damaged ankle ligaments

Feet Injuries

There are lots of lower leg injuries that can be addressed using compression legwear. They are widely recommended as a treatment for acute injuries. The types of injuries that compression socks can be used to heal are Plantar Fasciitis, Shin Splints, Calf Strain or Sprain, Ankle Sprain or Strain.

Conclusion

Ask your doctor!

So, what are you waiting for? Run to the nearest clinic or pharmacy to get a pair of compression stockings/socks to achieve better leg health. If you decide to go for self-prescription and shop online, make sure you select the right compression pressure level for yourself as that is the most important factor to consider more than anything! Last but not least, if you are very unsure, always consult a doctor/medical personnel to help you make better decisions. Don’t risk the risk!