8 Health Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks
When someone mentions compression socks, it often conjures up an image of elderly women wearing unsightly rubber support stockings. However, not only grandmothers benefit from such legwear. Here are eight health perks of adding compression socks to the wardrobe.
1. Perhaps the most widely-known use of compression legwear is the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—the formation of blood clots in the veins of legs or (more rarely) other places. While this condition is painful and causes swelling, it may be dangerous. A DVT can migrate, where it lodges in an artery that leads from the heart to the lungs. The clot, now termed a pulmonary embolism (PE), prevents blood from flowing normally. Lung damage and too little oxygen in the blood can result, possibly harming more organs. If the PE is large enough, or if there are enough smaller ones, it may prove fatal. Because of the potential seriousness of DVT, patients need to wear compression socks for at least two years.
People who sit or lie in one position for a long time—airline travelers (and pilots), automobile passengers, and post-surgical patients—are especially at risk for a DVT. Since compression stockings boost blood flow, they prevent these clots and their possible complications.
2. People with diabetes have a higher risk of a number of complications. In addition to the above-mentioned DVT (caused when high blood sugar leads to dehydration, making blood thicker and more prone to developing clots), poor circulation to the feet can aggravate injuries and slow wound healing. In addition, edema (swelling) is not only uncomfortable, it can also hamper healing. Compression socks reduce this complication and protect the feet from cuts, sores, and potential infection.
3. Athletes, from weekend warriors to professionals, find that compression socks prevent soreness and cramping and mean a faster recovery of muscles post-workout. Exercise causes a lactic acid buildup in muscles. If it remains there, tiredness and discomfort can result.
Compression socks’ ability to remove lactic acid stems from graduated compression: they fit more tightly on the feet and progressively loosen through the calves. The socks force blood, which is low in iron and high in lactic acid, up the legs and thus ease its return to the athlete’s heart and lungs. They also work in other ways: by lessening the damage that may result when muscles shake, preventing heat exhaustion by wicking perspiration away, and allowing more oxygen to get to worked body parts.
4. Chronic venous insufficiency is the result of damage to leg vein valves. Symptoms may be as mild as swelling and a heavy feeling or as strong as pain and cramps at night. People who are older than 50, smokers, obese, pregnant, or have a family history of the condition are at high risk. By improving blood flow, compression stockings help prevent venous insufficiency.
5. People whose legs feel tired and uncomfortable and spending hours on their feet can blame gravity. It is the reason blood pools in feet and ankles. Compression socks reverse gravity’s effects by sending this blood back up the legs. And that’s not all; they also remedy foot and ankle swelling (edema).
6. Those unsightly varicose veins are also the result of weak valves in leg veins. Compression stockings help muscles send blood out of the legs and on its way back to the heart. They should be put on before getting out of bed each morning.
7. Nurses and others who spend significant amounts of time on their feet find that compression socks are what the doctor ordered. In addition to preventing pain and swelling, this footwear stays up, is aerated to keep legs from feeling itchy and hot, and is anti-microbial—thus keeping feet from getting smelly.
8. Even though grandma is not the only person to benefit from compression socks, this footwear is beneficial for golden agers. Older folks’ blood vessels are not as elastic and efficient as they used to be. The compression these stockings provide can keep senior citizens free of discomfort, serious complications, and able to enjoy a greater quality of life.
Whatever a person’s age, level of activity, health, or profession, compression socks are an easy way to make the wearer not only feel good but prevent serious issues down the road. And with the variety of fabrics, styles, and colors now available, there is no reason to sacrifice attractiveness for comfort and well-being.