You might associate compression socks with athletes. But pregnant women, waiters, and the elderly all use these specialty socks.
The main focus of compression stockings is circulation, making it easier for blood to pass through the feet, calves and back to the heart.
As you age, the blood-carrying veins wear down more and more, leading to common problems like varicose veins, blood pooling, and vein stretch. Furthermore, the timing of blood flow is more challenging. Slow-flowing blood can cause poor circulation.
So, that's why older adults should consider gradient compression stockings to help with age-related circulation issues and other conditions that can benefit from wearing them.
How Compression Helps Circulation
The compression of the leg significantly reduces the width of the stretched veins, returning them to their original shape. Helping move these veins back into their correct shape helps the valve function better.
One of the more important benefits of compression stockings for older adults is that the gradient technology on the compression garment puts more pressure around the ankle and slowly reduces the pressure on the legs. The reason for this is that the influence of gravity is not necessary when blood is flowing to the heart, so support is concentrated where pressure is most needed.
Lactic acid removal
Stress increases blood flow, which increases the oxygen supply to the muscles and reduces lactate. Lactic acid builds up when cellular respiration is the body's way of producing energy, which is formed due to overworked muscles.
When lactic acid builds up in the muscles, it can be unbearable. Additionally, it inhibits muscle function and occurs more frequently with age as muscle mass tends to decrease. Therefore, it is crucial to increase oxygen in areas where lactic acid builds up. Compression socks are a helpful method.
Compression to prevent blood clots
Sitting for longer periods of time can lead to blood clots. When blood doesn't flow properly, it can build up and cause problems, but wearing compression stockings can help with that. Compression stockings help prevent blood clotting by promoting constant and consistent blood flow throughout the extremities.
Older adults are at a higher risk of developing blood clots because systemic circulation decreases with age. In addition, older adults who have had surgery, are obese, or have a family history of blood clots are also at greater risk of developing blood clots, so wearing compression stockings can help prevent blood clots.
Compression for varicose veins
Older adults are also at greater risk of developing varicose veins, a condition that is unattractive and can cause pain and discomfort. Also, when you stand for long periods of time, blood starts to settle and pool around your ankles and feet, and the buildup of fluid can cause swelling and pain, which can lead to embarrassing spider veins.
Wearing compression stockings helps direct blood flow upwards so it doesn't collect around the ankle and cause those spider veins to develop.
Which compression socks work best?
Compression socks apply varying degrees of compression, so you must follow various guidelines. Also, you may want to ask your doctor for advice on specific socks, especially if you bought them to treat conditions like blood clots or varicose veins.
Compression stockings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which is a measure of pressure. Here's a breakdown of the different types of compressed sizes you'll find:
15 to 20 mmHg
These are typically used for everyday wear and travel, so you can wear them comfortably for long periods of time. However, if you are treating an illness or recovering, this level of compression may not be tight enough.
20 to 30 mmHg
The degree of compression in these socks is great for relieving conditions like mild edema or spider veins. Doctors recommend these types to help improve circulation after surgery when you are unable to move normally. So if you have to stay in bed for a while, you should consider getting this level of pressure to help you keep blood flowing through your legs and feet.
30 to 40 mmHg
These are more substantial compression stockings, and they may even be labeled as "prescription" socks, and you'll need a doctor's prescription to get them. Severe swelling of the legs and post-operative problems will require this level of compression. Also, if you have other serious symptoms in your legs, including restless legs syndrome or blood clots, talk to your doctor about getting these compression stockings.
Some compression socks are marked slightly differently, "Class I" or "Class II" Roman numerals - the higher the number, the greater the compression. For example, grade IV at the ankle can be as high as 50 to 60 mmHg. Discuss specific pressure levels with your doctor to ensure you get the right compression stockings to meet your needs.
Why should older adults wear compression stockings?
Compression stockings also help to help older adults stay active as they age. Fatigue levels in the legs and feet occur more frequently as you age, and older people's bodies are unable to cope with them. Older adults may also need access to mobility devices and be unable to walk, so compression stockings can add heightened comfort and pain relief. Additionally, they will normalize more natural blood flow, combat cold food, reduce swelling and tingling, and have the added benefit of activating skin tissue for better movement.
Compression stockings are the answer for seniors who need help with blood circulation in their lower extremities, have certain chronic health problems, or feel that their legs and feet are constantly tired.