Everything You Need To Know About Compression Socks

Lower Leg Circulation Problems:
Are You At Risk?

If you are at risk for venous problems, you are a candidate for compression socks or stocking therapy and vascular disease prevention. You may be at risk if you can answer “yes” to two or more of the following questions/statements:

  • Age over 40
  • Family History
  • Pregnancy / Hormonal Therapy
  • Excess Weight / Obesity
  • Inactivity / Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Limb Trauma
  • Long Distance Travel
  • Sclerotherapy

Healthy Leg Questionnaire

  • I sit or stand for prolonged periods of time.
  • I have spider veins on my legs
  • I am over 40 years of age
  • I have an excess of weight
  • Varicose veins runs in my family
  • I take hormonal treatment (birth control, menopause)
  • I am pregnant
  • My ankles are swollen during the day and in the evening
  • I have alterations and some discoloration on the skin of my legs
  • I have varicose veins
  • I have had a leg ulcer
  • I have had a blood clot (DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis)
  • I have had a thrombophlebitis (vein inflammation)
  • I am an avid runner/jogger that is looking to improve leg soreness and recovery

Compression Socks and The Athlete

Why could compression socks improve athletic performance and recovery post run/race or activity?

1. Blood Flow

The Blood flow hypothesis basically states that the compression of the lower leg increases the blood flow. Partially due to gravity, blood can tend to pool in the lower legs. This can occur both during exercise or when at rest. In terms of improving performance during a race, the idea is that if increased venous blood flow from the lower legs and feet can occur, the better metabolic by-products that are transported by the blood can be flushed out and cleared more efficiently. In terms of recovery after a race, the idea is similar. If we can increase venous blood return, you’re going to get back to homeostasis much quickly and thus enhanced recovery time.

2. Muscle Vibration

When we run and strike the ground during the gait cycle, those ground reactive impact forces cause the muscles and tendons of the lower leg to vibrate. It’s thought that this vibration could be one cause of the delayed muscle soreness that we’ve all experienced. Compression of the lower extremity’s soft tissues protects them from muscle vibration and forces that lead to micro-trauma during impact activity.

Pregnancy and Compression Socks and Stockings

Pregnancy is a special time but there are bodily changes, changes which may affect your veins. These normal hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy affect the walls of your veins causing the vein walls to relax or dilate.

During the first trimester of pregnancy relaxation of the veins occur. Your total blood volume may increase as much as 45% in comparison to your non-pregnant level. The relaxation of the vein walls, in areas of venous valves may cause the valve to become incompetent – therefore allowing backward flow of the venous blood. The reduced flow results in venous congestion, which in turn causes swelling and leg discomfort. Ankle swelling occurs most commonly in pregnant women.

During the third trimester of pregnancy the weight of the baby and the uterus may impede return of blood through the veins of your legs. Gradient compression socks and stockings reduce venous congestion, support the superficial veins of your legs, manage the increased blood volume and relaxed vein walls; reducing the amount of swelling and the severity of varicose veins.

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