Compression socks serve a variety of purposes such as providing extra support and comfort as well as assisting in recovery and prevention of medical symptoms. With their wide range of functions, the question the often comes up is when to wear compression socks and how long to wear compression socks. The answer to this question really varies depending on the condition of each individual. Find out more about how graduated compression technology works and the right time and duration compression socks should be worn.
How Compression Socks Work
Compression socks work to improve the circulating fluids and blood to and from the lower limbs. There are many different scenarios that may cause fluid buildup and poor circulation within the legs including medical conditions, overuse or underuse of the lower limbs or physical trauma. Whatever the case may be, compression socks are there to assist.
They are specially designed with graduated compression technology which means, certain areas they cover will have a higher amount of compression, or pressure, placed on them in order to encourage blood and lymphatic fluids to flow in and out of an area. As the fabric moves closer to the heart, compression levels typically become lighter and lighter so that nutrient-rich blood and fluid can easily enter the lower extremities and oxygen-depleted blood and nutrient-depleted fluid can move towards the heart and relevant organs to be replenished or discarded.
With better circulation, muscles and tissues within the legs, ankles and feet can function at a more optimal rate. At the same time, any swelling, inflammation or fluid buildup is reduced because circulation is being moved along at a continuous rate with compression socks.
When to Wear Compression Socks
You can wear compression socks for multiple reasons. The bottom line is that they provide your legs with the comfort and support they need to continue to function at maximum capacity. The following are a few times when wearing compression socks might come in handy.
Over Prolonged Periods of Mobility or Immobility
Prolonged use or non-use of your legs can cause serious problems. Your occupation may require you to be on your feet for extended periods of time which may cause swelling and aching. These symptoms arise as the body’s immune response to overused muscles and tissues and the weight they bear. The same aching and swelling can occur from the underuse and immobility of muscles. Sitting for long periods of time, like at a desk or on a plane, can cause decreased blood circulation to the lower limbs. The lack of oxygen-rich and nutrient-dense blood to the lower limbs causes muscles and tissues to react negatively and may result in pain and swelling. In both scenarios, this is when to wear your compression socks. They help to carry blood to and from the legs so that they can stay fresh and refresh regardless of if you’re standing or sitting for long periods of time.
For Medical Conditions
Compression socks are used to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Some of the most common medical reasons for wearing this special type of compression garment include lymphedema, edema, diabetes, pregnancy, surgery, deep vein thrombosis and sports injuries. Those suffering from these conditions may be experiencing poor circulation, inflammation and painful swelling and have an increased chance of blood clot. In order to prevent negative symptoms from persisting, you can wear compression socks as a preventative, treatment or recovery measure. When you wear compression socks for medical conditions, you’re better set up to fight off the negative impact of different medical conditions and keep them at bay.
During and After ExerciseAnother common time to wear compression socks is when you are physically active. During times of exercise, your muscles, joints and tissues have a higher demand for oxygen and nutrients in order to continue to operate at a higher rate. When you wear compression socks while exercising, you can experience more blood flow to and from the areas being used. At the same time, the added compression adds an external support for the limbs being worked and keeps them protected against overstraining, overextending and potential factors that would cause injuries. Compression benefits can also continue on during a post-workout session. Many athletes will throw on a pair after training to help muscles and joints recover more quickly.
How Long to Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks come in various compression levels in order to address specific conditions. So, the question of how long to wear compression socks naturally follows. Before you begin wearing compression socks, it is advised that you consult with a doctor first, especially if it’s to treat a specific medical condition.
A general rule of thumb can be followed in terms of time of day, how long to wear compression socks and the compression level. If you need compression socks to treat venous issues that cause swelling, they typically can be worn all day. The level, however, may depend on the actual condition or situation you’re wearing them for. If you’re wearing them during work to achieve all day comfort, a lower compression level sock may be fit since it’ll help apply a steady yet subtle amount of compression all day long. For more severe conditions such as lymphedema, you may be prescribed a higher-level compression sock. Typically, you won’t need to wear compression socks at night if you’re wearing them for recreational or leisure purposes. Again, consulting with a doctor is key to finding the right balance between when to wear compression socks and how long to wear compression socks along with the ideal compression level to get.