How do Compression Socks Work?

The Science and the fashion

There’s A New Craze in Town! Compression socks have taken over the fashion and fitness industries after people realized their advantages. The quick adoption of these socks has been favored by the endless need to keep fit while still remaining in style. The garments come in short or long models; adopting the names Compressor Socks or Compression Stockings.

These socks are mostly favored by athletes and individuals who have active schedules. In order to understand how compression socks work, we need to look at the science behind the fashion.

So, what are they?

Compression Socks are aesthetically similar to regular stockings (or socks), but have been modified to apply more pressure on the limbs. The design of these special socks allows a snug-fitting grasp which applies more pressure around the ankle area and gradually loosens up near the knees. So, they are not the regular socks that are sold in clothing stores. They come in different models and modifications as per the companies producing them. For example, there are recovery socks and performance sleeves. They also adopt different sizes and models as per the gender. The development of these specialized socks was to mainly increase the blood circulation to and from the lower limbs which is often poor due to the force of gravity.  They also provide comfort for people who yearn for better blood flow.

The Science behind the fashion

Due to the force of gravity, the flow of blood from the legs is dragged back and doesn’t reach the heart as required. This could be caused by engaging in activities like flying, running, standing up for long hours and/or complicated by underlying medical conditions. The elastic materials used to make the stockings ensure that constant pressure is applied to blood veins along the legs. Also, the elastic bands on the socks exert a tight grip around the muscles and in turn increase the pressure on the blood veins below the skin. Consequently, the blood veins reduce in size narrowing the blood vessel’s radius. As a result, this increases the vascular pressure around the feet and legs allowing blood to be passed faster.

What’s more interesting is that this technology helps in placing the intravenous valves in order. Valves help in eliminating the chances of blood flow in the opposite/reverse direction. Therefore, when the compressor socks exert pressure on the veins, the distance between the valve openings is reduced. In addition, the valves are properly aligned towards the direction of blood flow. People with blood circulation problems have benefit the most from this invention.

The Fashion

Fashionistas and extreme sports enthusiasts were the first to take on the “compression Socks” trend. Due to the trendy look and comfort that the socks provide, people quickly adopted them. Designers also took on the challenge to make the garments fancy, and have come up with a myriad of models and styles of the socks. Some are short and are worn around the ankle, others are knee-high while others are all the way up to the thighs. More sophistication came in when different manufacturers created different designs for various purposes; sleeves for performance and socks for health and comfort.

Users, manufacturers and medics have pointed out the numerous benefits of the compression socks. Though not medically tested, the theoretical health benefits that are associated with them have boosted their popularity and use.

People who use them

Compression socks have become popular widely but some groups of people have made notable use of the. 

  1. Athletes and heavy weight lifters: As a result of heavy exercise and constant pressure on the legs due to the body weight, an athlete may get lack enough oxygenated blood in the legs. Extreme sports can also lead to leg muscle strains or twist the blood flow. This could result in fatigue, injuries or muscle cramps. Compression socks have proven to increase the performance of sportsmen during and after training.
  2. Pilots, air crew and passengers: Long distance travellers often spend hours in a seated position. Sitting down for long periods deny the legs exercise which can lead to blood clots and/or weaken the health of the legs. Therefore, using compression socks to stimulate proper blood flow is very advisable for long hauls.
  3. People with circulation problems or at risk of contracting the same:  Medical conditions like edema, phlebitis and thrombosis are the number one beneficiaries of compressor socks. These venous disorders can be avoided and treaded by the use of these special socks. Health and recovery compressor socks are often prescribed by medics after proper diagnosis of such a condition. Compression socks therapy also helps in reducing swellings and aiding patients walk after surgeries.
  4. Pregnant women: Pregnancies are often accompanied by swollen ankles or legs. This is due to the extra fluid accumulating and increased weight gained through the pregnancy period. Compression socks are used to increase the blood flow around the legs, which in turn helps in transporting the fluids to other organs for proper disposal.
  5. People with active careers that require long hours standing up: Teaching, painting, masonry, and plant operation are some of the professions that require a person to stand. These engagements could be continuous for more than 6 hours in a day, leading to accumulation of lactate in the leg muscles. Hence, strain and pain is usually felt on the legs and can be alleviated by the use of Compression socks.

Whether an individual chooses to use compression socks for performance enhancement or recovery/therapy, the benefits reaped are many. Serious vascular conditions, mitigating risks of such defects has been applied by physicians and positive results have been realized. Also, apart from the above special uses, compression socks are very comfortable and can help in improving the general health. Some have used these socks to improve sleep and relaxation of the legs.

So, Why not try them out? Discover the comfort, medical benefits and test yourself on a run. Milestones of superb enhancements in performance, endurance and training kit aesthetics have been recorded with the invention of Compression socks.