Compression socks and compression stockings are hosiery items specifically designed to help with blood circulation. Through the day, the bodies blood supply will tend to pool in the lower extremitudes, the feet and legs. If left unattended this may cause certain circulatory problems such as edema, phlebitis, and thrombosis. All three of these conditions are painful and can result in damage to the legs and feet. Elevation of the feet and legs will help to counteract the pooling by allowing gravity to work to bring the blood supply back to the core but this only offers temporary relief.
Compression socks and stockings can be worn during the day, when it is necessary to be on your feet, in order to help stop pooling and assist in circulation. This is accomplished by having a graduated pressure application built into the socks. These socks are generally constructed of elastic type material such as lycra, spandex, or rubber. The compression is built in tighter at the foot and then is less near the top of the sock. This design helps the body to pump the pooling blood back out of the foot, up the leg, and back to the heart and lungs so the body waste can be removed and the blood flow can be re-oxygenated.
People who are forced to stand for long periods of time at their occupation often times find relief from leg cramps and foot pain by using these socks whenever they work. If a person has poor blood circulation it is very important to assist the heart in removing the excess blood from the feet and legs in order to combat the possibility of blood clotting in the arteries and veins. Blood clots can cause serious damage to the body and even death if they break loose and travel to a major organ such as the heart or brain.
Athletes will also use compression hosiery at times for added support while running, jumping, and quick movements. But the majority of people use them for support due to circulatory problems.