Health & Fit Compression socks can reduce swelling, blood clots, and even improve athletic performance - here's how to know if they're right for you
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- Compression socks can improve circulation, reduce blood clots, and ease swelling.
- Compression socks can benefit people with varicose veins, diabetes, and venous ulcers.
- To choose the right compression sock size, go to the doctor or a surgical supply store.
Compression socks, also known as compression stockings, are socks of various lengths that apply pressurein your leg veins. They're typically tighter at the ankles and get looser as they go up the leg. They can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by a doctor.
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Here is how compression socks work, their benefits, and possible side effects.
How compression socks work
"The veins of the legs have to return blood upstream right up to the heart," says, MD, a nephrologist at . "What compression stockings do theoretically is improve how the veins work and keep the blood flowing upstream."
Compression socks are most often used alongside other therapies to treat patients who have circulation issues in their legs. They're also used to manage swelling in the legs and feet.
How do you put on compression socks?
- Apply talcum powder to your legs.
- Put socks on in the morning when swelling is down, says Khatri.
- Turn the foot part inside out.
- Put your foot inside
- Roll slowly up the leg
Benefits of compression socks
Compression socks are recommended for a variety of circulation issues in the legs.
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Who may benefit from compression socks
- Postoperative patients, who are at a greater risk of .
- People with varicose veins, a that causes twisted and enlarged veins in the legs.
- People with , who often experience swelling in the legs and feet.
- Pregnant people
- People with venous ulcers
- Frequent flyers or people on long flights, as sitting for long periods of time the risk of blood clots.
Benefits of compression socks:
- Improved circulation: Compression socks are commonly worn to improve blood flow in people with .
- Reduced risk of blood clots: Thigh-high compression socks have been shown to who have undergone surgery, by exerting pressure on the legs and, increasing blood flow which prevents clotting.
- Reduced swelling in legs and feet: A of people with diabetes who had swelling in their legs found mild knee-high compression socks significantly relieved swelling in the calf and ankles. Compression socks also swelling of the legs and feet in pregnant people, but more studies are needed.
- : Venous ulcers are leg ulcers caused by . Compression socks are , which speeds up ulcer healing and
- Reduced orthostatic hypotension: Orthostatic hypotension is a condition where your when moving from sitting or lying down to standing up. waist-high compression stockings might help improve blood flow and reduce symptoms. Talk to your doctor to see if compression garments would be right for you.
- Improved athletic performance: A found below-knee compression socks significantly improved running performance in male runners, and they could also reduce . But more studies are needed to understand the effects of compression on athletic performance.
Can wearing compression socks be harmful?
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Compression socks are generally considered safe, and side effects from properly fitting compression socks aresuch as skin irritation or indentations.
Compression socks that are too tight
"If too tight, compression socks could cause discomfort, or worst-case scenario, cut off circulation in people with vascular disease," says Kahtri. "If not tight enough, they won't be effective."
Compression socks come in a variety of sizes and lengths. There arethat differ based on the amount of pressure they exert on the legs:
- Mild (8-15 mmHg)
- Medium (15-20 mmHg)
- Firm (20-30 mmHg)
- X-Firm (30-40 mmHg)
Note: Get fitted for socks by your doctor or at a surgical supply store to make sure you choose the right size, says Kahtri.
You shouldif you have:
- Coronation artery disease : This occurs when blood flow in the coronary arteries is decreased and oxygen is prevented from reaching your heart muscles. Compression socks can further impair arterial blood flow,
- Peripheral neuropathy, or loss of feeling in limbs: People who have peripheral neuropathy .
- An or feet, like cellulitis, gangrene, or oozing dermatitis
Important: People with diabetes should talk to their doctor before using compression socks, as theya condition where the arteries become narrowed or blocked. C
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How long should you wear compression socks?
"It's okay to wear compression stockings all day," says, MD, a vascular surgeon at . "I usually recommend they be applied early in the morning after getting out of bed and wearing them most of the day, especially when on your feet or sitting for prolonged periods."
Compression socks should not be worn while sleeping. Compression socks are designed to work against gravity and help blood flow up to the heart, so it's not necessary to use them while you're laying down for long periods of time.
Compression socks improve circulation and promote blood flow by adding pressure to the legs, decreasing the risk of blood clots, leg ulcers, and swelling. If you think compression socks could help you, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you find the proper fit.What is diabetes? A comprehensive guide to lower blood sugar and manage the conditionHow to reduce lactic acid build up in your muscles during exercise - and why it happensHow to get rid of blood clots and reduce your future riskWhat causes blood clots? Know your risks for DVT and PE
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