Compression Socks: Are They Right for You?
Compression socks are, as they sound, socks that apply gentle pressure to your feet and ankles. While most commonly suggested for those who have diabetes, compression socks also have value for athletes and individuals with specific medical conditions. They can also be a great fit for people who spend long periods of time on their feet, like nurses for instance. In honour of Nurse’s Week from May 6th to 12th, we thought we’d walk you through the value of compression socks and whether or not they may be right for you.
How Do Compression Socks Work?
Compression socks gently compress your feet and legs, but what does that do for them? Essentially, your heart pumps blood, along with oxygen and nutrients, into your legs. The resulting pressure slowly pumps blood and lymphatic fluids out of the legs, but much less efficiently. Compression socks help improve circulation, moving all of these fluids out of the leg faster. They also allow your muscles which receive the blood in the first place to relax. Graduated compression socks do this too, but they get looser as they move up your leg, which may make them more comfortable.
Prolonged sitting or standing may interfere with the normal flow of blood and lymphatic fluid out of the legs and feet. Those who work at a desk or who stand for many hours of the day may find compression socks helpful to reduce this effect. You should find that your feet and legs are less swollen and achy if you wear them. Pilots in particular find that compression socks are helpful while they work, as their circulation can be impacted by flight.
Compression Socks for Athletes
Some compression sock brands will promote that they help you run more efficiently, but this is not entirely supported by research. Some studies have found small benefits, and others have found none. Most likely, compression socks will provide a placebo benefit during your run or other athletic performance.
However, research has found that compression socks are very useful for recovery, specifically for long distance runners. Wearing socks for hours or days after your performance can reduce soreness, cramping, and swelling. It can help you recover faster and continue to improve and perform at your best. In this way, compression socks are very beneficial to athletes.
Compression Socks for Medical Conditions
Compressions socks can also be highly useful for medical conditions which impact or are impacted by the flow of blood in your legs or throughout your body. If you are choosing a compression sock for a medical reason, you should look into medical-grade options, instead of general compression socks. That way, you know you’re getting enough compression power to actually make a difference for your condition.
Conditions that compression socks can help with include:
- Varicose veins
- Deep vein thrombosis
Compression socks can also be very helpful for those who have diabetes. They can help you protect your feet from the negative health consequences caused by diabetes.
You might also consider compression socks if you are pregnant. Pregnant women commonly suffer from swollen feet as a result of large blood volume, and compression socks can prevent this swelling and provide comfort.
Want to learn more about how to manage your conditions or improve your athletic performance? You might be surprised about the knowledge a physiotherapist brings to the table. The team at Meadowlands Physiotherapy can work with nurses and others as part of your healthcare team. Contact us today.