Compression Socks - How they work and their benefits

Blood in our veins has to constantly fight against gravity to flow back to the heart, sometimes there are factors that can impede that flow such as lack of circulation, weight issues, weak veins in the back of your legs etc. An accumulation of lymph fluid is what causes swelling in your lower limbs. Pair sluggishly moving blood with the accumulation of lymph fluid and you have the recipe for tired, swollen and heavy legs with an increased risk of varicose veins and in more severe cases; DVT Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Compression socks are an ultra-strong elasticated sock, comes in knee, thigh or full length from the waist. Whilst not the most aesthetically fashionable kind of sock, they make it simpler for the blood to move unhindered by any of these factors through your system. Compression socks work by squeezing your leg tissues and the walls of the veins- this is to help the blood flow more freely back up your body and it also doesn’t allow for the accumulation of lymph fluid in your lower legs.

Compression is measured in mmHg, millimeters of Mercury and can range from 8-15mmHg all the way through to 30-40mmHg. The mmHg is a guide on how ‘tight’ the sock is at full extension.

8mmHg and 20mmHg provide very light compression and can be worn by everyone who feels they might benefit from a bit of compression (eg. Athletes). However, compression above 20mmHg should only be prescribed and monitored by a doctor.

Who needs compression socks? Here is a list of the most common users;
  • Pregnant Women
  • People at risk of DVT
  • Elderly People
  • Athletes
  • People with Varicose Veins
  • Frequent Flyers

Is there any reason why you should not wear compression socks: If you suffer from any of the following illnesses, you should not be considering compression socks at all:
  • People with a decreased ability to feel sensations against the skin such as Peripheral Neuropathy
  • People with Peripheral Artery Disease
  • People with skin infections and open wounds
  • Massive leg swelling
  • People with Congestive Heart Failure.

Published in Keep Going, September 25, 2017