From avoiding and preventing achy, tired legs, to preventing and reducing swelling, and even averting the development of varicose veins, blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), compression socks provide a wealth of benefits. In fact, numerous studies have confirmed that compression stockings are highly beneficial in a wide variety of individuals.
If you’re thinking about giving compression socks a try or your health care provider has recommended them, but you aren’t quite convinced and aren’t sure if they’re worth the investment, read on to learn more about the benefits that compression socks can provide and how they can help to improve your overall health and well-being.
What Are Compression Socks, Anyway?
Before we dive in and discuss the benefits that compression socks can provide, let’s start by explaining what these garments are.
Compression socks (also referred to as “stockings”) are a type of therapeutic garment. They’re made of durable synthetic materials, such as Lycra or spandex, and are specially constructed in such a way so that they apply gradated pressure to the legs, ankles, and feet; either they apply more pressure at the foot and the pressure decreases as they move up the leg, or they apply more pressure to the top portion of the legs and the pressure decreases as the sock moves down toward the foot.
Compression socks are available in an assortment of styles and sizes. They’re also designed to provide varying levels of pressure. They can be closed-footed, open-toed, or a footless tight, of sorts. They can be ankle-, knee-, thigh-, or waist-high. The level of pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and the measurement is classified in categories: 8 to 15 mmHg are considered mild, 15 to 20 mmHg are moderate, 20 to 30 mmHg are considered firm, and 30 to 40 mmHg are classified as extra firm. Firm and extra-firm compression stockings require a prescription and have to be specially fitted, designed, and constructed, and lighter grades can be purchased over-the-counter.
How Do Compression Socks Work?
Compression socks apply pressure to the leg, ankle, and/or foot. The pressure that they apply helps to enhance circulation. In order for blood to be transported back to the heart where it can be re-oxygenated, the veins in the legs need to work against gravity. The longer you stand on your legs or sit in a sedentary position, the more pressure is applied to the veins, and the harder they have to work against gravity. This can lead to swelling, pain, aching, and the development of more severe conditions, such as varicose veins, and blood clots.
Because compression stockings apply pressure to the area they are applied to, they help to promote better circulation. As such, they can help to prevent blood and fluid from pooling in the legs, while thigh- and waist-high compression stockings can also help to deter orthostatic hypotension.
The Benefits of Compression Socks
So, what kind of benefits do compression socks provide? A lot! As mentioned, numerous studies have confirmed that wearing these stockings can offer a wealth of benefits. Here’s a look at just some of the most notable advantages that this therapeutic hosiery can provide.