Compression socks have become increasingly mainstream, especially for athletes and nurses. Yet, many people still have questions about what they are, what they do, and who should wear them. To help answer some of those questions and to make it easy to know when and how to start using compression socks, here’s a compression sock overview.
What are Compression Socks?
Compression socks, sometimes referred to as compression stockings, are socks that are made to fit tighter than regular socks. The result is that they provide a gentle squeeze of the legs, which is generally tightest at the toes, foot, and ankle and gets looser as it goes up the leg.
The primary purpose of compression socks is to promote circulation. They do this by applying pressure to the legs and essentially mimicking your leg muscles’ ability to pump blood back up your legs towards your heart.
Plus, by squeezing the legs, compression socks increase the pressure on the tissues under the skin, which reduces swelling and pain.
Further, because compression socks keep the blood moving, it’s less likely it will pool in your veins, potentially leading to a clot. Compression socks are particularly effective at reducing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) clots.
Are there Different Types of Compression Socks?
There are two primary types of compression socks--graduated and anti-embolism. Anti-embolism, or Thrombo-Embolic Deterrent (TED), socks are designed with the singular goal of preventing blood clots. These are used for bed-bound patients and are frequently used after surgery to prevent blood clots.
Graduated compression socks are the type worn by anyone that can stand and move around. These are tightest at the foot and ankle and loosen the higher up the leg they go.
Graduated compression socks come in different heights, including knee-high, thigh-high, full compression tights, and sleeves. They also come in different compression levels that vary based on individuals’ needs and lifestyle.
Who Should Wear Compression Socks?
Anyone can wear and benefit from compression socks. That said, there are some people that can particularly benefit from regularly wearing compression socks.
Because compression socks help with muscle recovery while reducing soreness and pain, they are particularly beneficial for athletes.
Those benefits coupled with the fact that they promote circulation make them a good choice for people that stand all day long, for example, people that work in medical professions like nurses, physical therapists, and doctors.
Additionally, they are particularly well suited for individuals at-risk for circulation problems, people that have recently had surgery, and pregnant women.
Tips for Getting Started with Compression Socks
An important first step when getting started with compression socks is determining what level of compression that you need. If you’re prescribed compression socks, your doctor will take your measurements and tell you the right size to get.
If not, you’ll have to make that determination on your own. Compression levels are measured in mm Hgs, and while there are a number of resources that can provide guidance, for most individuals looking to improve circulation and reduce pain and swelling, a compression level in the range of 15-20 mm Hg is a good place to start.
As you work to find the right compression level and size, keep in mind that your compression socks should feel snug but not uncomfortably tight. The first time you wear them, it’s a good idea to just wear them for a couple of hours at a time. Think of them like a new pair of shoes that need to be broken in, and don’t be concerned if after the first few hours of wearing them you need to take them off. As you adjust to this type of sock, however, they should feel comfortable for extended periods of time.
When wearing your compression socks, it’s also important that you don’t fold them or roll them down, as this can make them too tight. If you’re finding that you want to do this, consider switching the style of sock that you have, for example from thigh-high to knee-high.
Finally, when selecting compression socks, make sure that you pick some that you like. A lot of people think of compression socks and envision plain, beige socks. While that might have once been the case, today there are lots of different colors and styles of compression socks available. When you enjoy wearing the socks, you’re more likely to wear them and, naturally, you’ll then get more benefits from them. After all, they only work if you wear them, so select socks you like!
Crazy Compression makes high-quality compression socks in a variety of fun colors, patterns and styles. Check out our best sellers and purchase your first pair today.