Over the years, compression socks have become mainstream. They are worn by all kinds of people, from track stars to world travelers to pregnant moms. Not because they're the latest fad, but because they can help increase blood flow in addition to reducing discomfort and swelling in your legs and feet.
The Basics of Compression Socks
Compression stockings or stockings are designed to promote better circulation in the feet, ankles, and legs by applying varying degrees of pressure to the skin. This helps push blood back to the heart and can prevent swelling and discomfort from weakened or damaged vein walls and valves.
Doctors may also recommend them to reduce leg swelling during pregnancy, help prevent blood clots, and provide circulatory support after surgery. Athletes wear compression garments such as knee sleeves and elbow sleeves in hopes of improving performance by increasing blood flow to muscles and joints.
Are there different types of compression socks?
We generally divide compression socks/stockings into three types, which vary according to the degree of compression they provide and the condition they are designed to treat.
gradient compression socks
These stockings provide the strongest level of compression at the ankle, tapering towards the top of the product. They often require custom fittings and are designed to meet certain medical specifications.
We may recommend over-the-knee stockings to help reduce fluid buildup and swelling in the calf. Thigh stockings are often used to help prevent swelling and a sudden drop in blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension).
Anti-embolic compression stockings help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots. They are often used in patients who are sedentary for long periods of time, such as during recovery from illness or surgery and/or during long journeys.
Non-medical support socks/stockings
These compression socks are available in stores and online and offer a minimal amount of even compression. They promise to help relieve foot pain and discomfort, but don't offer the compression benefits of medical-grade support socks.
Are compression stockings difficult to wear?
Many of our patients initially find medical compression stockings difficult to put on and take off. If worn improperly or for longer than recommended, compression stockings may cause:
cracked skin and infection
- peripheral nerve injury
- impaired arterial blood flow
Therefore, if you are considering compression stockings/stockings to relieve symptoms related to varicose veins or venous insufficiency or prevent blood clots, we recommend that you contact us first.
Medical compression stockings can help temporarily relieve symptoms associated with poor circulation in the legs and feet, but are not designed to address the underlying condition or improve the appearance of varicose veins.
The benefits of compression stockings
1. Provides a gradual relaxation of compression from bottom to top, bringing blood back to the heart.
2. Improve circulation and soothe or prevent:
blood clots on the legs
- Venous ulcer
- Varicose veins and spider veins
- swollen ankles and legs
3. Benefiting people with an above-average risk of blood clots in the legs, such as:
People with a specific genetic disorder in the family or a history of blood clots
- long-term bedridden patients
- Women taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
- people with certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome
4. Other benefits suggested by the study, such as:
Prevention of varicose veins in pregnant women
- Preventing blood clots in the legs of airline passengers
- Reduce post-workout soreness in athletes
Slightly improves runner's endurance
Who are compression stockings good for?
certain medical conditions
Compression stockings may benefit people with the following health conditions:
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a higher risk of blood clots in the legs.
- Venous ulcers, a complex treatment disease
- Varicose veins and spider veins
- Edema, swelling of the ankles and legs.
- pregnant woman
Pregnant women may experience swelling in their legs and ankles due to increased blood volume and hormones that relax the body, which can lead to reduced blood circulation. Wearing compression stockings can help them reduce their risk of varicose veins by 2-3 times.
Whether you're traveling by car, train, or plane, long trips can cause circulation problems, making you more likely to swell or develop blood clots and DVT. Wearing compression stockings can help reduce your risk of DVT while traveling. In addition, it is recommended to stand up and walk every hour, maintain regular exercise, and drink plenty of water.
during and after exercise
Research shows that wearing compression stockings during and after a workout can reduce post-exercise blood lactate levels, which can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. Additionally, reducing the level of discomfort athletes feel after a workout will make it easier for them to get back into training and improve their future performance. Research also suggests that wearing compression socks may slightly improve endurance.
standing for long periods of time
Wearing compression stockings can help reduce leg fatigue and swelling if you stand for long periods of time throughout the day.
best compression socks
Compression socks vary according to the degree of compression they apply. If you buy stockings or socks for medical reasons, your doctor may prescribe or recommend a specific level of pressure for you. However, if you're choosing between socks with different levels of compression and your doctor hasn't recommended a specific grade, here's some information to help you choose the best compression socks for you:
15 – 20 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
These socks are suitable for everyday use, sports recovery and travel. However, they may not be tight enough for medical rehabilitation.
20-30 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
If you have varicose veins, spider veins or mild edema, this may be the right choice for you. Also, they can help improve circulation after surgery if you can't move as usual.
30-40 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
Offering the strongest level of compression, these socks may be labeled as prescription. This may be appropriate for those with severe swelling, DVT, or postoperative symptoms ranging from moderate to severe.