The Benefits of Compression Therapy for Travel
As I am writing this, I am on a flight to Toronto. I am wedged into my window seat beside a businessman using his laptop and another gentleman sleeping. There is no way I am getting up to stretch. However, I am wearing compression stockings.
Compression socks and stockings bring up negative connotations of ‘getting old’ with a lot of my patients. But this is far from the truth. When we sit on a plane or at a desk all day, blood has a tendency to pool in our feet. It is hard for blood to fight gravity and get back to the heart.
Over time, this can lead to a break-down of the valve system in the veins. This creates the lumpy looking, very noticeable, varicose veins that are common in 40% of adults. Varicose veins are also common for people who stand in confined areas for several hours at a time – think cashiers, baristas, or lecturers.
Compression Socks For Frequent Flyers
When you fly, you are relatively immobilized and sedentary. Not only are you sitting, but you cannot often stretch out and so your knees and hips are bent for many hours. This negatively affects blood flow through these areas, in addition to the poor gravity-fighting properties I mentioned earlier.
READ MORE: 5 Reasons Why You Need Compression Socks
Lastly, while an airplane is partially pressurized, there is a change in pressure compared to ground level. All this can lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVTs), which has recently garnered attention in the media. A DVT is a blood clot in the lower leg. Not only are there serious health implications with DVTs, but they can also reduce your chances of future air travel.
So, back to my original point about compression socks for travelling. Compression therapy can come in sock, stocking or sleeve form. It is a graduated form of compression that helps to shunt blood back up to the heart, promoting proper circulation and blood flow.
WATCH: 5 Reasons Why You Need Compression Socks (2:34)
The Benefits of Compression Socks For Flying
Compression socks have many other benefits, including:
- Reducing fatigued or heavy-feeling legs, muscle cramping in the calves, plus swelling,
- Increasing energy due to increased oxygenation of the muscles, and
- Preventing varicose veins and spider veins
Over-The-Counter Compression Socks For Travelling
Compression garments can be purchased over-the-counter, which is a low grade of compression and does not require a medical prescription. Extended healthcare providers do not cover over-the-counter compression socks. Sizing is based on shoe size and calf circumference.
Medical compression is necessary if you want full stockings or if you need a higher gradient of compression. This may be due to a pre-existing condition. We need a prescription for medical grade compression. An appointment would need to be made first thing in the morning so that measurements can be taken before any swelling may occur in the legs and feet.
Extended health care will typically cover two to four pairs of medical-grade compression socks, sleeves, or stockings a year. If you wear them every day, your socks will last about 6 months before the compression is less effective.
READ MORE: Which Compression Socks Are Right For You?
Who Else Can Compression Socks Help?
To review, you should wear compression socks if you are sitting or standing for long periods of time. It takes seven consecutive steps to get the calf muscle pumping blood back to the heart. Wear compression socks for travelling, whether it’s by air or by vehicle.
Pregnant women can benefit from compression therapy to reduce strain on the blood vessels while carrying the added weight of a baby. Athletes can benefit from compression therapy both during their sport and as a recovery tool afterwards. Knee-high socks in marathon runners are not simply a fashion statement!
READ MORE: Athletic Compression Socks For Non-Athletes
So put aside your vanity, and think about your health for a moment – consider wearing compression socks for travelling.
Learn More About Compression Socks For Travelling
Along with your physician, the certified compression sock fitters at Kintec can answer any questions about compression socks and their benefits. A Kintec compression fitting specialist will help you find the right material for your needs, lifestyle, career, and footwear.