The Science Behind Compression Socks and Why They Work


Compression socks or stockings are designed to aid those who are suffering from problems with their veins and the passage of blood through their body. There are few negatives in wearing compression socks with the science behind them being known about for centuries dating back to the period of cave drawings. Ancient cave drawings depict soldiers in ancient times with their legs wrapped in bandages because ancient people knew the benefits of compressing the legs when on long marches.

How do compression socks work?

Compression socks are elastic garments that are worn on the legs and can either cover the entire leg or just cover to the knee. Problems can occur with the veins in the legs for veins that are known as distended, which means they have grown in size and can cause pooling of the blood. In many cases, the compression socks are used to make sure blood is flowing at the correct velocity through the veins as this can result in the legs can become tired and ache when the blood does not pump through them correctly.

By compressing the veins, the arteries of the legs work to a higher standard and do not cause the same amount of problems for the wearer. By making the socks tightest at the knees and less tight at the knees, the level of pressure at the ankles is increased. The compression socks push surface veins tighter and compress the muscles and arteries closer together to increase the pressure of blood moving through the legs.

Uses of compression socks

There are many uses for compression socks, including the medical uses of treating varicose veins and spider veins close to the surface of the legs. By using compression socks to treat these veins, the problems of pain and tiredness are limited and do not allow the blood to pool within the veins as can be seen in these conditions, according to WebMD.

One of the most important medical uses for compression socks is that of halting the formation of clots in the legs that can lead to deep-vein thrombosis. Clots in the legs forming at any time can be a problem as these issues can lead to heart attacks and the feeling of light-headedness and dizziness.

The benefits for sportspeople

Fisher-Titus Medical Center reports there was very little science behind the benefits of compression socks for sportspeople when basketball player Allen Iverson stepped onto an NBA court wearing them in 2001.

The main reason for wearing compression socks as an athlete include the fact blood moves through the veins faster and more efficiently when they are being worn. The idea for sportspeople is the benefit could include faster recovery times and less fatigue during a workout and during games. Iverson scored over 50 points on the first night he wore compression socks and claimed he felt more energy when wearing compression socks. There has yet to be a conclusive study proving the success of wearing compression socks as an athlete but the general thought of medical professionals is it cannot do any major harm.

Wearing compression stockings

Compression socks can be a difficult item to wear for many who struggle to put them on and take them off each day. Most medical experts do not recommend sleeping in compression socks but some doctors do recommend this for specific conditions. In general, doctors recommend having a professional fit your compression socks to make sure they fit correctly on your legs and do the job they were intended for. Most doctor’s offices and medical supply stores will have a trained professional capable of measuring your legs and ensuring the correct fit.

Some doctors have recommended those who are at risk from blood clots and blocked arteries to wear compression stockings on planes because of the changes in pressure. There are many reasons why the compression stockings work so well, including the fact they can prevent swelling around the ankles linked to pain and tiredness when the pressure changes on airplanes.