Compression socks and stockings can be beneficial no matter your age or activity level. We all want to live in good health and seize the day. With that extra boost of energy that comes along with wearing a good pair of pressure socks, you don’t need to be held back from the activities you love any longer.
Whether you’re here because your doctor recommended compression socks or you’re simply looking for a medication-free way to ease foot pain, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the health benefits of wearing compression stockings and how they can improve your daily life.
What Are Compression Socks and Stockings?
Compression stockings are medical socks designed to prevent and manage certain leg disorders such as varicose veins, venous reflux disease, edema and thrombosis. Unlike traditional socks or stockings, pressure socks are made with an elastic-like fabric that applies pressure onto the legs, ankles and feet. They can also used to provide extra support to the arch and ankles.
There can be variations of fabric used for compression wear. Compression socks and sleeves tend to use a thicker fabric, whereas stockings and hosiery use a thinner material similar to pantyhose.
Graduated compression socks are a unique type of compression wear that apply a range of pressure levels to the leg. The gradient of pressure is strongest at the ankles and gradually becomes milder towards the knees or thighs. ComproGear uses graduated compression in our products.
How Do They Work?
Every day, the heart pumps blood down to your toes and then back up towards the lungs to be oxygenated again. However, gravity can cause the blood to gather in the legs and feet as a result of poor circulation.
When blood pools in the lower extremities, you may begin to feel fatigued. If poor circulation is left unchecked, edema, blood clots, varicose veins and leg disorders can develop.
If you are at home, simply raising your legs on a pillow while laying down can help to ease pain. But when you need to get on with the rest of your day, compression socks can help prevent pain without interrupting your routine.
When the muscles of the legs are compressed, blood is forced to pass through narrower channels in your vessels. This increases pressure within the arteries, forcing more blood to return to the heart rather than pooling in the leg.
By exerting force onto your legs, pressure socks are proven to stimulate blood circulation in the feet and legs–despite the pull of gravity. They also support weakened vessel walls and valves, preventing varicose vein formation.
The use of compression socks to alleviate these leg issues cannot be underestimated. The gentle compression keeps valves functioning properly so they can fully close to prevent blood from flowing backwards. Healthy valves are key to avoiding foot, leg and venous diseases.
Who Should Wear Compression Stockings?
There are two categories of people who will benefit from compression therapy:
- The first category of people utilize compression socks as a preventive measure. If you are hoping to prevent varicose veins, ankle injuries and blood clots, integrating compression wear into your routine is a great idea. Especially for those with medical disorders running in the family, taking a preventative step now may have a powerful protective effect.
- The second group has not been as fortunate in regards to their leg health. They are already managing signs and symptoms such as varicose veins or edema. If you fit into this second category, your physician may have recommended or prescribed compression therapy to help ease leg and foot pain.
The following reasons are common motivators for people to start using compression wear. Which one can you relate to?
If you have a job that requires you stand or sit in one position for long hours, you are at risk of having tired, achy and swollen legs by the end of the day. Professions that fall into this category include waiters, chefs, porters, receptionists, cashiers, tellers, health care workers and so on. You can prevent discomfort by putting on your compression stockings before you head to work to help stimulate blood circulation.
Wearing compression stockings during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester, can prevent varicose veins and dependent edema. Deep vein thrombosis is common during pregnancy, too, which is why doctors highly recommend expectant mothers wear compression socks.
3. Extended Travel
If you are a regular traveler by plane, train or bus and must sit down for long hours at a time, you are at risk of developing blood clots and economy class syndrome. However, studies have shown that compression therapy can help minimize the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during long-distance travel.
4. Athletes and Sports Enthusiasts
We are all familiar with the use of compression leg wear (socks, sleeves, tights) in sports. They help to improve performance through increased blood circulation, reduce muscle fatigue and prevent muscle damage. Studies have shown that wearing compression socks or sleeves after exercise can also help boost recovery.
Obesity can increase your chance of developing blood clots in the legs. High levels of cholesterol and blood lipids increase blood viscosity, slowing down circulation. These factors make it difficult for blood to flow back to your heart and venous diseases of the legs can develop. Your doctor may recommend you wear pressure socks as a prevention method.
The Health Benefits of Using Compression Hosiery
Compression wear can be used to curb the symptoms of medical illnesses and, in some cases, can even prevent the development of those diseases altogether.
You may have heard of common vein diseases such as varicose veins and spider veins. Compression socks help to support the stretched and weakened walls of blood vessels to prevent the formation of venous diseases such as varicose veins.
The pressure applied by compression socks slightly narrows the diameter of the blood vessels. This allows for an efficient flow of blood throughout the body without causing damage to the blood vessels. Note that this can only be effective when compression wear is worn consistently every day.
Venous Reflux Disease (Chronic Venous Insufficiency)
Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when the valves in your blood vessels are unable to completely seal off. As a result, your blood may flow backwards for a moment and can begin to pool in the ankles and legs. The veins may become further dilated, making it even more difficult for the valves to close.
Symptoms include leg aches, heavy-feeling legs, color changes to skin on the legs, leg rashes, swelling, infection and leg ulcers. Compression stockings can enhance blood circulation and prevent the reverse flow of blood in the veins.
A symptom of diabetes is poor circulation, especially in the feet and legs. Diabetic patients may be advised by their physicians to wear diabetic compression socks designed to apply just enough compression to allow maximum blood flow in the legs.
Though this may be ideal for most diabetics, always speak to your physician first before placing your compression sock order. Too much compression can exasperate diabetic neuropathy, but not enough compression leaves the toes and feet susceptible to circulatory diseases.
Economy Class Syndrome (DVT)
Economy class syndrome, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), develops when a blood clot forms in the leg. The blood clot can block the vein, causing it to swell and lead to thrombophlebitis.
When a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) breaks loose, it can cause a pulmonary embolism if it becomes stuck at the lungs. Using compression stockings will help prevent the formation of blood clots in the first place so you can avoid deep vein thrombosis.
Foot and Ankle Injuries
There are many foot and ankle injuries that can be addressed by wearing compression hosiery. You can use pressure socks for the following:
- Prevention of twisted ankles.
- To speed your recovery from an acute foot injury.
- To manage or prevent plantar fasciitis of the arch.
- Increase blood flow to a calf strain or shin splint to aid in healing.
With so many positive health and wellness benefits, compression socks are becoming widely recognized by athletes, patients and workers alike. Consider how a pair of compression stockings can help you achieve better leg and vein health.
ComproGear invites you to try a pair of compression socks out for yourself. We offer a range of styles from simple patterns to rich hues; there is a style for everyone. ComproGear’s compression socks are built with light and breathable materials that wick away moisture and prevent swelling of the feet.
Always remember to have your shoe size and the circumference of the widest part of your calf on hand when you choose the size of your pressure socks.
Last but not least, if you are unsure what compression level is best for you, consult your doctor. Especially for patients with diabetes, choosing just the right level of compression is imperative to your health.