Generally speaking, compression socks can help to improve circulation whilst fighting swelling and discomfort. They are, therefore, useful for a variety of people and in many different situations. In this article we are going to explain the most common reasons why you might need or want, to wear compression socks.
How Do They Work?
By providing compression and pressure evenly around the lower leg and muscles, they help your arteries taking oxygen-rich blood to your legs relax, so that blood flows more freely. The pressure also acts as a support for your veins, which are taking blood back to your heart, almost like an extra push. They are usually worn only below the knee and some people require a compression sock aid to get them on. This is because they are rather tight, as the name suggests, so can be quite hard to get them on and off. Also, as many people using them are elderly, these aids are designed to ease the need to bend over or strain the back.
So, that’s what they are and how they work, let’s get into the reasons that they are usually recommended:
Many of us travel for business and for pleasure. Often, compression socks are recommended for long flights or extended periods in other modes of transport such as cars or busses. Due to being seated and unable to exercise your legs for long periods of time, you are more likely to form blood clots or deep vein thrombosis. Compression stockings and their ability to help keep blood flowing are the perfect antidotes to these risks. They can also help your legs and body, in general, feel fresher once you step off that plane, as blood has been flowing nicely you are less likely to have aches and pains.
Sitting For Prolonged Periods
Much like when traveling, sitting for long periods of time generally is dangerous. In fact, many doctors would tell you that sitting down all day is killing you! Our bodies were almost certainly far more adapted to slowly moving all day long whilst gathering food and working land, not designed for sitting on an office chair all day. Sitting all day can severely affect mobility and posture in old age.
If you can, you should get up from your desk every hour for a few minutes on your feet, or a short walk. Better still, get a standing desk. If these options aren’t available to you, compression socks may be an answer. They will help blood flow whilst reducing the genuinely serious threat of blood clots forming. This can lead to a reduction in the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
During and Post-Exercise
On the other end of the scale, compression socks can help when you are active. Using compression socks during and post-exercise isn’t necessarily going to make you a faster or stronger athlete, but they could make you a more comfortable one. This could, in theory, benefit your performance. More realistically, though, the socks will very likely aid with recovery. As we know, compression socks will help reduce swelling and inflammation, so should prevent some of the likely muscle soreness after strenuous exercise.
Standing All Day
If sitting all day is killing you, then why are we talking about standing all day? Well, this refers, again, to those who are stuck in one position all day. Walking is good for encouraging blood flow and movement, standing in one position does the exact opposite, and can once again lead to blood pooling in your lower legs. If your job involves standing behind a till all day, you may well notice achy tired legs during and after your shift. Compression socks could help with this.
Finally, many people are recommended compression socks for varicose veins. While they are not a cure and varicose veins are usually hereditary, they can ease the symptoms to an extent. The pressure on the surface veins from the stockings helps to reduce their inflammation, whilst boosting the blood flow back to your heart, and therefore reduces their sometimes-nasty appearance. Doctors may recommend putting compression stockings on during the day or whilst your feet are up at night to try and help combat the appearance and feel of your varicose veins.
These are the most common reasons you might wear compression socks. Overall, they are a good first-line preventative measure against swelling, discomfort, and potential blood clots. If you feel you are at a higher risk of these conditions, you should speak to your family doctor or another medical professional.