Compression Socks – The Little Known Ingredient to Foot Comfort

Compression socks are widely known among people suffering from leg or foot problems but they have benefits that many people, including active individuals and those who stand on their feet all day, can take advantage of. In particular, people who have or are experiencing any of the following conditions can benefit from wearing gradient compression socks or stockings:

  • Tired, aching, fatigued legs
  • Mild to moderate swelling
  • Pregnancy
  • Varicose veins and venous insufficiency
  • Swollen feet, ankles, and legs
  • Stand or sit for long periods
  • Overweight
  • Post-thrombotic syndrome

In particular, people who sit or stand for long periods of time at work or home can experience painful swelling or numbness in the feet and ankles. In turn, the swelling can make wearing shoes particularly uncomfortable – further worsening the pain and side effects. For people who may be at risk, compression therapy is an excellent way to take preventative measures.

Why Compression Therapy?

Circulation problems can arise when we create additional stress on our lower limbs or get older. As one’s legs become weak, the veins and pathways inside the legs may stop working properly. A serious side effect of this is that the legs can begin circulating the same blood over and over, leading to painful health conditions that can escalate into more serious health conditions.

Compression socks are specially designed to aid in the circulation of the blood within the legs. Using compression therapy, circulation is boosted which brings much-needed nutrients and oxygenated blood into the legs and feet. Many people report their legs feel invigorated and free of the pain and weakness they have been experiencing. Compression therapy can reduce the amount of damage suffered to the legs and regenerate damaged tissues.

Using compression socks regularly is an excellent way to take preventative measures for your health. Even when your feet are at rest for extended periods, these socks provide a healthy circulation boost and help eliminate pain, swelling and fatigue. The compression effect works to massage the muscles of the legs in a gentle manner, taking care of you throughout the day.

… And if you think all compression socks are uncomfortable and ugly – think again! Many high quality socks are made to look great while still providing excellent medical benefits!

Athletic Compression Socks

If you have attended a basketball game lately or noticed runners passing by in the park, you may wonder when “retro” knee high sports socks came back in to fashion. Well, this time around, it would appear the 1970’s looking socks are more for function rather than fashion! The socks you may be seeing more frequently are athletic compression socks – seen on runners and athletes of all ages and abilities. The theory behind these socks is that they work to improve athletic performance. Really? Can changing your socks really shave minutes off your 10k time?

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the recovery effects of compression socks. A study from Massey University showed a significant decrease in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after a 10k run. Runners who wore compression socks during the run experienced less muscle soreness 24 hours after completing the run. So although these socks will not make your run any faster or run any longer, you could reap the benefits the following day by avoiding muscle soreness.

At the end of the day (or at the end of a run) there do not seem to be any negative effects to performance while wearing compression socks and the benefit of decreased muscle soreness may be a good enough reason to give the socks a try. What must be understood is that these are not “regular” knee high, tube socks. Compression socks are made with firm elastic throughout and provide a mild to firm amount of compression starting at the ankle continuing up to the knee.

Due to the technology and materials used to make the socks, the cost of a quality pair of compression socks is likely to cost $60 or more. Look for socks with graduated compression, where the grade of compression decreases near the top of the sock (allowing for better blood flow and is generally more comfortable). The compression factor in these socks is measured in millimeters of mercury, often denoted as mmHg. When using the socks for athletic purposes, look for socks with a compression factor of 8-15 or 15-20mmHg or better still, ask your BioPed Pedorthist who has been fully trained in assessment and fitting techniques, for assistance.