How Compression Socks Work & Why You Might Need Them
Compression socks have been growing in popularity over the past couple years. Traditionally, compression socks have been used to treat vascular disease and were not widely adopted for general or athletic use. They started to gain popularity for airline flyers and people that sit for long periods of time during the day.
Have you ever wondered how compression socks work? Their role here is to counter the pooling of fluid in the lower limbs due to a lack of muscle activity and the effects of gravity.
Before we go too much further, let’s actually look at what a compression sock is. A compression sock is a knee high sock that provides a level of compression. It is higher around the foot and ankle, decreasing as you move up the sock to the upper calf. They are designed to reduce the pooling of blood and fluid in the foot and ankle and increase circulation in the lower leg.
The level of compression is measured in mm of mercury. 10-20 mmHg and 20-30 mmHg are the over the counter levels, and anything over 30mmHg is medical grade compression. The socks can be custom fit from a series of circumference and length measurements at the lower leg and ankle and they can be fit as an over the counter product base mostly on shoe size.
In the last couple of years, compression socks are gaining increased popularity in athletic and work environments.
I have been wearing a variety of compression socks for both athletic and casual wear, and my feet feel more comfortable while wearing these socks. I feel less fatigued during exercise, and I feel like I recover faster following exercise.
My personal favourites are the Smartwool Ph.D. and the CEP. Both provide 20-30 mmHg compression and are made with technical wicking fibres.
I would recommend wearing compression socks if you are a runner, cyclist, work on your feet for most of the day, or are flying on an airplane or spending long periods of time seated. Many insurance plans will cover custom measured medical socks and retail level socks range in price from $45 to $80.