Compression socks (or compression stockings) are socks of various lengths designed to compress the leg more gently than traditional socks, with the primary purpose of promoting blood circulation in the legs.
When you have less exercise and less blood circulation, your legs are more likely to retain blood and your blood is more likely to clot. The threat of blood clots is not very high in good health conditions, but you may have noticed discomfort and swelling on long flights. Compression stockings help maintain circulation and reduce these symptoms.
How do compression socks work?
Studies and evidence show that compression stockings are particularly effective for leg vein problems.
By gently squeezing the legs, compression stockings increase the pressure on the tissues under the skin. This reduces excessive leakage of fluid from the capillaries and increases the absorption of this tissue fluid by the capillaries and lymphatic vessels.
The resultant effects include reduced swelling and prevention of swelling. It also expands the superficial veins, reducing their ability to fill with blood and preventing blood from flowing backwards and causing congestion.
Blood pools in the veins of the legs can cause a variety of problems, including:
- Skin changes
- Damage to vein walls and valves
- Inflammation of veins (also called phlebitis thrombophlebitis)
- Varicose veins and even
- Blood clots
Types of compression socks
In general, there are two types of compression socks: graduated and anti-embolism stockings.
- Graduated compression socks are the more common type you find and are used by most people. These socks come in a variety of compression levels, but the ankles are the tightest, and the higher the legs, the looser they are. While compression stockings are typically offered in two lengths, knee-length and thigh length, full compression tights are becoming more common among athletes.
- Anti-embolism stockings are a special type of compression stocking that provides gradient pressure to the area of ??the leg. This gentle compression improves blood circulation in the legs and prevents blood from clotting. Such stockings are also highly recommended for bedridden and restricted movement patients.
When should you wear compression socks?
Your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings to:
- Promote blood circulation in the legs.
- Reduce swelling of the legs and ankles.
- Improve lymphatic drainage.
- Manage orthostatic hypotension or low blood pressure that may affect your standing up after a period of sitting down.
- Prevent blood from gathering in the veins of the legs.
- Boosting blood flow when you’re sitting for long periods of time, or during a long flight period.
- Soothing achy legs and feet
- Suppressing odors
Can anyone wear them? A unique advantage of compression socks is that you don't necessarily need the approval of a doctor to try them and for most people, there are no risks to wearing them.
However, some people may worry about how tight the compression stockings are when compared to regular socks and the dents that the compression stockings leave on their legs. They may wonder if compression stockings actually block blood flow.
Well, don't worry. That's not the case for 99% of people. Problems can occur only in unhealthy people with severely impaired heart function or severe peripheral arterial disease with poor blood flow between the feet or legs and the heart.
Although compression stockings are most relevant for older patients, they are actually suitable for adults of all ages. You need to try it for your personal use to find out if it's right for you. They can also be worn based on personal preference, as you feel better and everyone wants that little competitive advantage.
Do athletes benefit from wearing compression socks? It is not uncommon for athletes to wear different types of compression stockings and compression sleeves in different sports. Studies show that there is some evidence that it may help with recovery. They can have beneficial effects on the runner's circulatory system-increasing oxygen supply to the muscles, improving blood circulation, and speeding up the breakdown of lactic acid.
Another advantage for athletes to wearing compression socks is that it guarantees protection. The materials that compression socks are made from are usually thicker than the average sock, which protects the skin and keeps the legs warm and dry.
The use of compression socks is very practical and common. But at the same time, it’s a very underutilized option.” In other words, more people can benefit from wearing them.
Recommendation for new users
- It’s okay to take off your compression socks if it’s your first time wearing them, but you find them uncomfortable.
- You don't have to wear them from breakfast to dinner.
- If you feel uncomfortable, you need to make adjustments.
- Consider either below- or above-knee socks. Below-knees are more common. If you've got thicker calf muscles, it is recommended that you go with the above-knee compression socks. This is due to the fact that a few extra inches of material can create more comfort at the top of your calf so it’s not necessarily tight on your skin around there.
- Develop a culture of drinking plenty of water, consuming a low-salt diet, and moving your legs. Between simply sitting for lengthy intervals of time or simply standing for long periods can cause swelling in the legs. Try to strike a balance between the two, keeping your muscles working and not just succumbing to gravity.
The negative effects of compression socks Compression socks can cause
- Skin irritation
Who should not wear compression socks? Do not wear compression stockings if you have a peripheral vascular disease that affects the lower extremities of your body. The pressure exerted by compression stockings can exacerbate the ischemic disease.
How long can you wear compression socks in a day? Depending on your needs, they can be worn all day long (though they must be taken off before bedtime), or for several hours at a time. It is ideal for work, home, and travel. Compression socks can help a lot of people, but you may need to talk to your doctor before making them a part of your health care routine.
Did you know? Almost 90% of leg disorders originate within the veins. One of these diseases is venous insufficiency or venous valve dysfunction, that is, the failure of the valves of the veins to function. If this happens, your blood would be trapped in your legs and you would have a reduced flow of return to the heart.
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This email contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.