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Sep 2021

All About Compression Socks

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Compression Socks and Their Benefits

What are Compression Socks?

Compression socks are socks (sometimes called stockings for thigh high and full length) that are designed to gently squeeze the legs to help promote better blood flow and circulation in the legs. Compression socks can lessen pain and swelling in the legs and help lower your chances of getting DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) which is a kind of blood clot as well as other circulation problems. They are often recommended for people who either stand or sit for long periods of time. They are also comfortable and often used by athletes. Compression socks not only come in varying lengths and sizes but also in styles that fit your needs and lifestyle.

Graduated compression socks are tighter around the ankle and become looser as they move up the leg. In many cases compression socks can be purchased over the counter but if they are prescribed by your doctor, your extended medical insurance may cover most if not all the cost.

What Are Compression Socks

Who Uses Compression Socks?

  • People with or at risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), Varicose Veins or Diabetes
  • People who stand or sit most of the day
  • People who are bedridden or have a hard time moving their legs
  • Travellers that spend long stretches on an airplane
  • Pregnant Women
  • Athletes

Uses of Compression Socks

When a person is not moving blood tends to pool in the ankles. As soon as one walks or moves the legs the blood is circulated due to the muscles squeezing forcing the blood up the legs. Compression socks squeeze the legs which helps improve blood flow. When blood keeps moving it is harder for blood to pool in veins which can cause a clot. Blood clots can be dangerous especially when getting stuck in the lungs. Compression socks can also help keep your legs from getting tired and achy. I have worn compression socks and can attest that after wearing them for the day my legs felt great in the evening after taking the socks off.

Some athletes including professional athletes often seen in the NBA wear compression socks or sleeves (sleeves are compression socks without the foot or hand portion) on their legs and arms. They not only help blood circulation but the muscles often won’t feel as sore or won’t cramp as much as those without them.

What kinds of Compression Socks are there?

Compression socks or sleeves come in varying sizes and lengths with many different styles and colors. Most compression socks tend to be knee high in which the sock go to just below the knee, while others can be thigh high or full length. Compression socks also come in varying levels of pressure measured in mmHg. Standard over the counter compression socks come in 15-20mmHg, medical grade socks start from 20-30mmHg and these are the ones that an extended health plan may cover the cost. Compression socks are measured for each individual and should feel snug but not overly or painfully tight. As I have mentioned before if you have extended health insurance and a medical condition such as varicose veins or in jobs that require you to stand or sit for long periods of time, a doctor’s prescription will be required.

Different Types of Compression Socks

How to Wear Compression Socks?

The socks should worn smoothly and lie flat against the skin without bunching or folding the tops down. Your health professional should indicate how to wear them and for how long but if they are medically necessary you should wear them for most of the day taking them of at night. Properly fitted compression socks should feel snug but not overly tight.

Should I be fitted for Compression Socks?

Standard grade compression socks 15-20mmHg are measured generally by height and weight. Medical grade compression socks are slightly higher in compression 20-30mmHg and in this case several measurements are taken. For example on a knee high compression sock we measure the ankle circumference, calf circumference and calf length which is approximately from the crease of the back of the knee to the floor (shoes and socks removed). By taking these specific measurements a precise fitted compression sock will function properly by improving blood circulation and not being overly tight.

Which length of stocking should I choose – Knee high, thigh high or panty hose?

The major function of compression socks/stockings is to improve circulation in the leg by applying pressure around the ankle and progressively becomes milder as one goes up the leg. For the majority of people who use or need compression socks a knee high would be the choice. If one has varicose veins that travel further up the leg then a thigh high compression sock may be the choice. Full length panty hose are often chosen by women that prefer something stylish and comfortable, while many pregnant women find full length more comfortable as it provides additional support and ease to the stomach.

Length of Stocking and Its Uses

What choices are there in compression socks?

We carry Sigvaris compression socks, a company that is renowned for making exceptional products in a variety of colors and styles. Compression socks are available in styles that range from everyday use that can be both functional and stylish. There are socks available for motion and athletes as well.

What colors are compression socks available in?

Some compression socks only come in 3 colors but others are much more wide ranging and offer up to 9 different color choices such as:

  • Dark Navy
  • Honey
  • Warm Sand
  • Golden
  • Toasted Almond
  • Mocha
  • Night Shade
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Lime
  • Pink
  • Red
  • Limeade

The color choices are endless but some colors are specific to certain lines of socks.

For more information on Compression socks contact Dynamic Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic Inc at 905-273-5433 or via our website www.dynamicphysiotherapy.ca

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