Every day, your body’s circulatory system works hard to pump blood to and from the heart. That said, sitting or standing for hours means that your circulatory system will have to act against gravity in order to move the blood along your veins. Put simply, during long periods of immobility, there isn’t much muscle contraction going on to help squeeze the blood from down in your legs back up to your heart.
Fortunately, wearing a pair of good-quality compression socks can help. They’re specially made to apply a pressure gradient on the lower limbs, thus keeping the blood moving so that it won’t pool in the veins. This, in turn, prevents possible complications of slow venous return, including leg swelling and varicose veins.
It should come as no surprise, then, that compression socks were primarily designed to prevent health problems such as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. That being said, many individuals who don’t necessarily suffer from these conditions have found that compression socks can also be useful for various other activities or occasions. These situations include, but are not limited to, the following:
Long hours of traveling, whether it be on a plane or in a car, can slow down the circulation between your heart and lower legs. If you’re frequently on the go, it may be worthwhile to invest in a pair or two of compression socks to prevent potentially harmful health conditions from developing.
When you go shopping for these socks, make sure to get just the right type and compression level for you. Generally, the best compression socks for traveling are nonmedical support socks. The recommended compression level for airline passengers is 15-20mmHg. Anything higher than that can do you more harm than good, especially if you’re an otherwise healthy person.
In addition, you might want to try on your compression socks for a few hours or even a few days before your trip. This is to help you get used to the pressure and see if you can remain comfortable while wearing the socks for hours.
For Exercising or Doing Physical Activities
Athletes can benefit from wearing compression socks when they’re exercising or playing their sport. Compression socks place just enough pressure around the calves to optimize the blood flow from the legs to the heart, allowing for more efficient oxygen delivery. This added pressure also prevents the buildup of lactic acid, a chemical byproduct of anaerobic respiration that contributes to the development of muscle cramps.
Many athletes also note that they have a better sense of balance and improved endurance when wearing compression socks. Compression socks also help reduce vibration and stress to the muscles, which decreases the likelihood of soft tissue injuries.
Additionally, some evidence has shown that wearing compression socks results in improved running times during ultra-endurance events and speeds up post-workout recovery. Lastly, a growing number of studies has shown that compression socks reduce muscle soreness after strenuous activities.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing the right kind of compression socks for exercising or playing sports. Just remember to pick the appropriate level of compression, one that’s not too loose but also not too tight. If the socks are the wrong fit or apply the wrong amount of pressure to the legs, they won’t work as efficiently. After all, you’ll only reap the benefits of wearing compression socks if they’re actually doing their job.
When Sitting or Standing for Long Hours at Work
Similar to traveling, sitting or standing for hours at work can increase your risk of developing health complications related to poor blood circulation in the legs. So, if your job requires you to sit or stand for long periods, you might want to consider getting compression socks. With these on, you can take care of your everyday tasks without worrying about aches or pains in the lower body.
As with the previously mentioned types of activities, be sure to get a pair that provides just the right amount of compression to the legs. Wearing compression socks that are too tight might potentially cut your circulation off, and wearing a pair that’s a bit too loose defeats the purpose of wearing them in the first place.
You’ll also want to make sure that you get socks that match your office’s dress code. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to find stylish and comfortable compression socks that will blend right in with the rest of your work outfit.
For Long Periods of Immobility
Whether you’ve just gotten out of surgery or are recovering from an injury, being immobile or bedridden for a long period puts you at a much higher risk of DVT or PE. Fortunately, wearing compression socks can promote optimal blood flow in your legs, thereby preventing blood clots from forming in the first place.
With their many practical and useful applications, compression socks are certainly a worthy investment. Whether you’re traveling, exercising, working, or recuperating, these socks can do wonders for maintaining healthy blood circulation in your legs and feet. If you don’t own any yet, consider purchasing a few pairs and giving them a shot. As discussed above, they can make a big difference in how you feel as you go about your day-to-day activities.