This article was published on: 11/29/21 1:14 PM

Vascular Health – Caring for your Veins! – BioPed Footcare

Veins are blood vessels that are located throughout the entire body.  Their job is returning deoxygenated blood back to the heart, to be pumped out to the lungs in order for the blood to be filled with oxygen once again. The entire body needs oxygen to stay alive.


Veins are visible through the skin because they are closer to the surface than arteries.  Veins are not muscular and therefore they rely on the skeletal muscle in the legs to squeeze the blood back up to the heart.  Veins have one-way valves to prevent blood from flowing back down the leg.  Valves can become “leaky” which can cause excess swelling, spider and varicose veins.  This is called venous insufficiency because the veins are not doing their job sufficiently.

Sitting at a desk all day or standing still while at work or home makes it hard for the muscles in the legs to work effectively to push the blood in the veins back up to the heart.  Blood will then pool at the ankles and feet due to gravity, creating a stasis.  Similar to a static pool of water in a pond.  This can cause skin irritation, swelling, ache and fatigue in the legs and feet.


Compression therapy comes in the form of socks and hose that are meant to be worn daily to mimic the action of the leg muscles or assist the leg muscles in doing their job.  They come in a variety of compression levels which are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg):  15-20 mmHg, 20-30 mmHg, 30-40 mmHg and 40-50 mmHg.  The most common therapeutic strength is 20-30 mmHg. Compression therapy is available in knee high, thigh high and full pantyhose styles.

The mechanism of action of these socks and hose is to squeeze blood back up to the heart by applying a gradient compression from the toes up the leg.  The compression level is strongest at the toes and weakens as it progresses up the leg.  In other words, a 20-30 mmHg sock would have 30 mmHg compression at the toes and 20 mmHg at the top of the sock or hose.


At a higher compression, they can treat venous insufficiency and at a lower compression level, they can simply maintain the health of lower legs and feet by ensuring the blood is returned to the heart for proper reoxygenation.

It is best to consult with a primary care practitioner before wearing compression socks as there are a few reasons why wearing them may not be advisable.  Decreased arterial or oxygenated blood flow to the legs and feet, peripheral neuropathy or lack of protective sensation and allergy to the sock material can all be  contraindications for compression therapy.

If compression is recommended, one of BioPed’s lower limb clinicians will make sure measurements are taken  thoroughly in order for proper fit and function.