How to Put on Compression Socks

Whether the result of pregnancy, working long hours while standing on your feet, caused by an illness, or the side effect of a medication, if you suffer from swollen, painful legs, ankles, and feet, compression socks may be the solution to your discomfort. While there’s no denying that compression socks can be a highly effective way to combat edema (the medical term for swollen lower extremities) – countless people have found them to be extremely beneficial – there is a downside to this remedy: compression stockings can be hard to put on.

Whether your health care provider has recommended and prescribed the use of compression stockings or you have decided that you would like to purchase and use over-the-counter compression socks, here are some tips that you can use to simplify putting them on so that you can enjoy the relief that they can provide – and avoid unnecessary frustration.

How to Put on Compression Socks?

What Are Compression Socks?

Before we dive in and share tips that you can put these socks on, let’s first take a look at what compression stockings are. A type of therapeutic wear, compression socks (the terms “stockings” and “socks” can be interchanged) are designed to help improve blood circulation throughout the body. They’re commonly used to minimize swelling and/or pain in the legs, ankles, and feet. They can also be used to reduce the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Compression stockings are made of unique materials and are designed in a way that allows them to apply gentle pressure on the legs, ankles, and feet. This pressure enhances blood flow from the legs and back up to the heart, which helps to prevent the pooling and clotting of blood. It also helps to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the tissues – the cause of edema.

How Compression Socks Help

Numerous studies and tons of evidence has proven that compression socks are a highly effective treatment for swelling – and the associated pain – in the legs, ankles, and feet. Edema occurs when the valves of the veins in the lower extremities fail to function properly. Oxygenated blood flows from the heart to the legs, ankles, and feet. After the oxygen has been dispersed, the de-oxygenated blood circulates back to the heart so that it can be re-oxygenated, and the cycle continues over and over again.

The oxygenated and deoxygenated blood travels from and back to the heart through the veins. In order to travel back to the heart, the deoxygenated blood has to work against gravity, which can be difficult, especially in individuals who stand, sit, or lie down for extended periods of time, or who suffer from certain types of health conditions or who take certain kinds of medicines. Venous insufficiency – a condition that is marked by the failure of the valves within the veins to function properly – also makes it difficult for de-oxygenated blood to travel back to the heart. These issues can reduce circulation, and when that happens, blood and fluids can build up in the tissues within the legs, ankles, and feet; thus, swelling and pain – edema – can occur.

Compression socks gently squeeze the legs, ankles, and feet, which helps to increase the pressure in the tissues that lie underneath the skin. The pressure helps to minimize the excess leakage of fluid from the capillaries, which in turn increases the lymphatic vessels and capillaries ability to absorb tissue fluids, thereby reducing and preventing swelling and the associated pain.

How to Put on Compression Socks?

Types of Compression Socks

There are two main types of compressions socks:

  • Graduated. This style of compression socks are the most commonly used. They are tight around the ankle, and they become looser as the socks move up the legs. There are usually two lengths available, including knee-high and thigh-high.
  • Anti-embolism. This style is designed to aid in the maintenance of proper circulation. They provide even pressure to the legs, feet, and ankles. They’re ideal for patients who are bed-bound while they are recovering from surgery or from an illness.

Regardless of the type, compression socks are available in a variety of pressure levels and sizes. That’s why consulting with a healthcare professional before using compression stockings, as they can help you select the appropriate type of compression socks, as well as the appropriate pressure rating and size.

How to Put On Compression Socks

So, how do you put on compression socks? Here are some simple tips that you can use to make putting on these socks a whole lot easier.

  • Prep your legs and feet. Putting on compression hosiery as soon as you wake up in the morning before your legs and feet swell is ideal. If you are putting them on later in the day, lie down and elevate your legs to reduce any swelling. Make sure your legs are clean and thoroughly dry. Once dry, try applying talcum powder or cornstarch onto your legs. Doing so will help the material glide on smoother.
  • Properly position yourself. Put your toes into the toe area of the socks. The rest of the socks should be bunched up around the toes. Next, you should gradually unroll the socks upwards. Sitting in a chair is ideal. Avoid crouching or bending over while you’re standing.
  • Smooth out the material. Make sure you take the time to smooth out any creases in the material after the socks are on. Doing so ensures that you are getting optimal pressure.
  • Try a plastic bag. Believe it or not, a plastic bag can come in handy. Place a plastic bag over your foot and heel. The slippery surface of the bag will help make putting the socks on a lot easier. Once the socks are in place, slowly pull out the loose plastic bag through the open-toe of your stocking.
  • Use gloves. A pair of gloves can help to make it easier to get a grip on your stockings without damaging them. It can be hard to grasp and pull the fabric that compression socks are made of with your bare hands. By wearing gloves, you’ll have an easier time grabbing a hold of the socks, which will make pulling up the socks a lot easier.