For those of us who sit in front of a computer all day, or for those who suffer from insufficient blood flow from legs to the heart—the effects of which range from leg swelling and varicose veins, to the more serious problem of phlebitis and thrombosis—compression socks can be a real life-saver.

Compression Socks

This elastic type of hosiery improves blood circulation by squeezing the leg at the ankle and delivering a gradually reduced tightening up the leg. This graduated squeezing helps to circulate the blood back to the heart, preventing swelling—or in more extreme cases— blood clots, from forming in the legs.

Compression socks and athletes

While compression socks have long been recommended for the modern office worker bees glued to their chairs 24/7, as well as for those on long flights in economy cabins with cramped seats and very little legroom, recently more and more athletes have taken to wearing them while running or exercising.

Manufacturers of compression socks and tights claim that these garments aid in the athletic performance and recovery from exercise by increasing oxygen delivery, minimizing muscle fatigue and preventing cramps and lactic acid.

Whether compression garments do indeed enhance performance and speed up recovery is still a claim unproven by a definitive research study. However, one study did discover that when 21 male runners did a one-step test with compression socks and one without, on the test without the garment they were able to go longer before fatigue set in. Those who believe that compression socks enhance fitness training ascribe to the theory that the tights promote muscle efficiency by preventing oscillation of the muscles sideways.

Compression socks and regular exercising

For the average fitness enthusiast, however, the concern may be more with compression socks’ potential harmful effects if worn while exercising. The general consensus among doctors is that there are no injurious effects from wearing compression garments while exercising, and there actually might be some benefits. In addition to the potential enhancement of athletic performance and recovery, compression socks have a couple of other benefits. They do keep your legs warm, and if you’re out for a long time running, they will limit swelling of the legs.

Still, according to Dr. Umesh Patel, a top cardiologist with 32 years of experience, compression garments are most beneficial when a person is standing and sitting without movement, and least beneficial when lying down or exercising because “Muscle pump helps venous return during exercise so there is less need while exercising.”

Getting your compression socks

It is recommended that you talk to your doctor about what kind of compression socks are best for you. Compression socks come in different pressures and lengths. You can get a prescription from your doctor and then go to a medical equipment store where they will measure your legs to get a good fit. The most effective compression socks are the graduated kind – they feel tight around your legs, with the most pressure around your ankles and less pressure higher up your legs.

For more information or to get a custom solution tailored to your needs, contact our team today!


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