For years, when I arrived in a new city, I had an airport ritual: as soon as the plane hit the tarmac, I packed my boarding sneakers into my carry-on luggage, and my feet kept slipping after the flight It swollen so badly that it became a pair of sliders that were too big. My legs felt heavy and I would trudge through immigration waiting for the moment I checked into my room and soaked them in the tub I hoped would be there.
When I discovered gradient compression socks and how they help someone like me who is prone to swollen legs and feet, it completely changed my flying experience.
Why you might need gradient compression socks on your flight
Like many others, you may experience swelling or puffiness in your calves and feet after a long flight, which can cause pain when walking or wearing shoes. This happens when a disproportionate amount of fluid builds up in the tissues of the lower leg.
In this case, wearing gradient compression socks can help. These tight-fitting socks are designed to apply constant external pressure to your calves, ankles and feet, ending just below your knees, helping to prevent or reduce inflammation in your calves and feet.
Gradient compression socks provide maximum compression around the ankle, gradually decreasing to calf strength. Stress increases venous blood flow from the legs to the heart. The increased blood circulation brings oxygenated blood back to the legs faster and more efficiently, thereby improving the ability of the muscles to work.
Almost like a tight grip on the leg, the pressure has a relaxing effect on the leg muscles and can also reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which is why many athletes, hikers, and marathon runners also wear graduated compression socks.
Wearing graduated compression stockings on long flights also helps prevent the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, which can cause blood clots in the veins of the legs due to prolonged sitting for hours.
When Should You Wear Gradient Compression Socks
You might be surprised at how comfortable you are on a long flight wearing compression socks, because you might forget to get up and stretch your legs while binge-watching a movie or dozing off a dream. upcoming holiday. Usually, I wear compression socks long after a flight, until I check into a hotel and find my legs are definitely not tired or swollen.
For the same reason, compression socks are also useful on long trips, where your legs can cramp for hours in a car or bus. The kind of fatigue you experienced afterwards? Proper compression stockings can greatly reduce or eliminate this unpleasant sensation.
For hikers, distance runners, mountain bikers and cyclists, wearing compression socks during training and recovery can significantly reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery, improving overall performance. That means they're also a great addition to your gear on multi-day hiking or biking adventures.
If your job involves sitting or standing for several hours a day, graduated compression stockings can help reduce muscle fatigue and prevent swelling that commonly occurs.
How to choose the right compression socks for your flight
When choosing compression socks for flying, traveling, or sports, it's best to choose socks that offer graded compression. As calf pressure tapers off, this ensures unrestricted movement and keeps the sock comfortable for long periods of time. You shouldn't feel like you want to take them off and relax.
When it comes to knowing how much compression you need, it's wise to try a few options to see what you're happy with. Compression is usually expressed in mmHg (millimeters of mercury, units of pressure), where 12-20 mmHg is mild compression and 20-30 mmHg is moderate compression. For someone like me with swollen feet, 20-30mmHg socks are very comfortable on long flights.
The best compression socks are made with soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking materials. They shouldn't give your toes a rash or sweat (which can lead to infection) even after wearing them for hours on a long flight. Some brands use materials like merino wool to keep socks odor-free, making it a breeze for travelers.
In the end, it's important that the fit is just right. Obviously, gradient compression socks only work if they're tight enough to provide enough compression to increase circulation, but they shouldn't be so tight that wearing them is painful no matter what. Most brands that sell graduated compression socks require you to measure your feet and calves so you can order the right size. You can also choose to have it installed by professionals in the clinic.