Believe it or not, on average, our feet experience the force of hundreds of tons per day, equal to the weight of a fully-loaded cement truck. After all this, the least we can do is take care of them, and compression socks are designed specifically for the health of our precious feet.
Compression socks are produced in different sizes and materials and help various groups against further progression of disorders related to veins.
This article aims to explain why you need to wear compression socks and tries to clarify their benefits, side effects, and some beneficial details about them.
What Are Compression Socks?
Compression socks are specifically designed in a way that squeezes your leg more than regular socks. There are also compression sleeves without feet that look like a tube. Generally speaking, there are mainly two types of compression socks:
- Graduated socks: These socks are more common and available with different compression and tightness ranges. Some use graduated pressure: tighter around the ankle and looser in the upper parts. Two lengths of this kind of stocking are available: knee-high and thigh-high.
- Anti-embolism socks: These stockings are specially designed for bed-bound patients to inhibit blood clots and help you to have normal blood circulation.
Do Compression Socks Help with Circulation?
A good blood flow is pretty essential for your overall health. Poor circulation occurs when blood flow is reduced, especially in the legs. More precisely, your veins should fight against gravity to have proper blood circulation. They do this using clenching the calf muscles and a series of vein valves that are one-way-only. Several reasons (like ageing) may cause valve damage, leading to blood backtracks and pools around the damaged valves.
On the contrary, Compression socks can squeeze your legs. This extra pressure can compensate for the improper working of damaged valves and helps the blood can effectively fight against gravity. This is the primary way compression socks help with blood circulation in your legs.
Who Should Wear Compression Socks?
Different groups of people can benefit from compression stocking, including:
Bed Bound Patients and People Who Confined to a Wheelchair
Patients who are confined to bed are at risk of blood clots and impaired blood circulation. In addition, people who use a wheelchair may suffer from swelling legs and improper blood flow. Compression socks can help these two groups to have better blood circulation in their feet.
Athletes wear compression socks to promote their blood flow during physical activity. As blood flow increases, the oxygen delivery to muscle cells increases and this helps athletes’ endurance. In addition, some athletes to accelerate post-workout recovery use compression wraps.
Pregnant women prone to leg, feet or ankle swelling can benefit from compression socks. The best result (control swelling) will achieve when using them in the morning, before developing the swelling.
People Standing All Day at Work
For such people, compression stockings can enhance blood flow and oxygen delivery in their legs, thereby reducing fatigue, pain, and swelling.
People with Frequent Long Air Flights or Aircraft Crew
When sitting on a plane, you will be prone to blood clots and embolisms if you frequently have long flights. The risks mentioned above produce due to lower moving around and slowing down blood flow between the heart and lower legs.
Compression Socks Benefits
Based on several studies in different fields, wearing compression socks has many benefits for different people. The most important benefits of compression socks include the following:
Decrease Pain and Cramping in the Legs
Pain and cramping after a long day of working are widespread among people who have jobs that need to be standing all time. Wearing compression socks promotes blood flow and oxygen to your tired legs. In addition, wearing these socks can relieve aches and pain in people who work on their feet all day before it starts since they can keep your blood moving.
Decrease Leg Swelling and Edema
Impaired blood circulation in the legs causes swelling and edema since blood gets to pool in the legs and ankles. Wearing compression support healthy blood flow and reduce swellings.
Inhibit Varicose (Spider) Veins in Legs
Varicose is a situation in which your veins get enlarged and overfilled with blood and visible as swollen, purple, blue or red colour through the skin. Varicose mainly occurs due to ageing or pregnancy, and the main reason is poor blood circulation back to the heart. The good news is that this issue can be avoided using compression stockings in a lot of cases.
Reduce Blood Clot and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Sitting for an extended time without moving around, like situations during long flights or sitting in front of a computer for a long time, may increase the risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. In such situations, using compression stockings come in handy. Compression socks with graduated compression help your blood flow out of pools in your leg. These socks are also beneficial for people who suffer from DVT and even can be used as preventative care.
Enhance Muscle Stability
During a workout, walking, or other exercise activity, your muscles experience repetitive vibration and oscillation, which is why your muscles feel exhausted. By wearing compression socks, your muscles get compressed and lateral movements in your leg decrease, so your muscle stability increase. It is essential for people who run, jog or pavement.
Accelerate Recovery Time
As mentioned above, compression socks can decrease recovery time by improving blood circulation and delivering enough oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells. some specific injuries may happen during exercise like:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Shin Splints
- Calf strain or sprain
- Ankle strain or sprain
These injuries cause inflammation and more pain in contributed organs. Wearing compression socks helps you heal sooner and decrease recovery time.
Some injuries happen when your body gets fatigued. This kind of injury can be avoided using compression socks or sleeves. These products can reduce your extra muscles movements and give you more control over yourself when you feel exhausted.
What Conditions Need Compression Socks?
A healthcare provider may prescribe compression stockings for any condition you experience, like poor blood flow, swelling, pain, and discomfort in the lower leg. These conditions are as follows:
- After surgery or being bedridden
- People who have jobs that require sitting or standing all day long
- People who have varicose veins
- During pregnancy
- Airplane crews
- People suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Someone who experiences leg swelling for any reasons
- Athletes during exercise
- People with Post-Thrombotic Syndrome
How Many Hours a Day Should You Wear Compression Socks?
The correct answer to “How long to wear compression socks for seniors” is that: it depends on their needs. You can wear them all day long and remove them when you are going to bed. You can wear compression socks for 3-4 hours right after exercises to reduce discomfort and fatigue due to working out. For decreasing your leg swelling, you can wear socks before a long period of standing. People who use compression socks for medical reasons should consult with their health care provider before wearing them.
Wearing Compression Stockings to Bed
There are controversial discussions about “What Are the Pros and Cons of Sleeping with Socks On?” and this is true about compression socks. Although wearing compression socks to treat circulation problems is beneficial, if you use them in the wrong way, it will damage your leg health. Their benefits occur when you use them when moving, and gravity applies to your veins. More precisely, when you lie down, the blood flows conveniently throughout your body, and there is no venous stasis.
If you are an athlete or use them to inhibit swelling due to sitting or standing, there is no need to wear them before sleeping.
However, in some specific cases like pregnancy, surgery, or vein disease with developed sores on the legs, it is recommended that they wear compression socks at night. Nonetheless, it will be better to consult with your doctor before wearing them to bed.
Side Effects of Wearing Compression Stockings
If you wear compression stockings the right way and right time, there won’t be any problem. However, they are not safe for everyone in any situation. For example, people with irritated skin should be aware of the potential risks of wearing such socks. In addition, people with peripheral severe arterial disease or heart failure should not wear compression socks. Potential risks of wearing socks are as follows:
Cut off Proper Blood Circulation
Compression stockings that are not appropriately fitted can cause opposite effects and prevent proper blood circulation in the legs.
Scrapes and Bruises on Legs
People with dry skin or who live in a dry climate are more prone to chafe and scrapes. However, if you choose adequately fitted compression socks, the issue is less likely to happen.
Itching, Redness, and Irritation
Friction between sock fabric and skin may cause irritation and itching. Improperly fitted socks produce redness and even dents on your legs at the edge of socks.
Poor blood circulation in the legs causes several health problems. Wearing compression socks is a great way to combat the health issues originating from improper blood flow in the lower legs. A lot of people can benefit from socks like seniors with spider veins, athletes, pregnant women, etc. However, there are also some drawbacks you should be aware of before wearing them.