How Do Compression Socks Work?

Compression hose and stockings are technological innovations that improve circulation for pregnant women, diabetics, the elderly, and anyone in need of some support to keep the blood properly flowing.

The heart pumps approximately 100,000 heartbeats per day in order to send 6 quarts of blood through 100,000 miles of veins, arteries, and capillaries. However gravity, age, a slowed heart, or other health problems can cause blood to pool in the legs and lower feet. This leads to swelling and fatigue, or event to potentially more serious problems like blood clots.

Compression socks, such as Jobst support socks or varicose veins stockings, are made from a super-strong elastic material that fits very tightly at the feet and less tightly up by the knee. This change in pressure keeps the calf muscles constantly squeezed and stimulated, sending blood back to the heart and reducing swelling and the potential for forming clots. The socks in fact act as very strong synthetic calf muscles. Graduated pressure in the sock is the primary mechanism for increasing what’s known as the body’s “arterial pressure” and push blood back toward the heart.

The socks are made from a high-friction material that grips securely around the leg. Long compression stockings can sometimes bunch and buckle, but this can be addressed with a maternity belt or garter.

Compression stockings must be custom made so that the pressure from the sock is appropriately adjusted to individual needs. A physician or pharmacist first takes measurements at the top of the ankle, around the largest part of the calf, and just above the knee. Custom tailoring for compression socks does up the cost, although insurance will often cover compression socks and stockings.

If prescribed, compression socks are worn from waking through bedtime. The socks should be removed at night when the legs are elevated.

In fact, the benefits of compression socks can also be gained by keeping the lower limbs properly elevated. However, a tightly wound Ace bandage or other wrapping is no substitute for good compression hose. The pressure from the bandage is uneven and may actually aggravate pain and swelling.

There are many benefits to compression socks besides improved circulation. They also ease pain, provide comfort, and prevent swelling in legs and feet. The most firm socks are prescribed to patients with severe lymph edema, which causes major swelling and fluid retention in the legs and feet.

Compression socks were originally only prescribed to those with poor circulation but now many others find them helpful, such as passengers on long airplane rides or people with jobs that require them to stand in one place for many hours may also wear these socks. Compression socks are also used to speed post-surgical recovery for edema, venous ulcers, phlebitis, varicose veins, spider veins, and deep vein thrombosis. Others who might benefit from compression socks include obese individuals, those who have had a previous blood clot, those who have had a stroke, and those who are bed ridden. Compression socks are also used by athletes to increase their endurance, reduce lactic acid build-up, reduce cramping, and boost overall performance.