If you plan on watching the NYC Marathon this Sunday, you will probably notice many of the runners wearing special, tight-fitting socks. These garments, known as compression socks are intended to improve circulation and help with pain and stiffness. Compression technology is becoming increasingly popular with both athletes and non-athletes, but are they effective?
Compression socks are special garments designed to provide extra support and increase blood circulation. The key to understanding how these socks work lies in knowing about their graduated pressure application. Throughout an average day, the body pumps blood to all of the extremities as equally as it can. Gravity, however, often causes blood to pool in the lower legs and feet, causing circulatory problems such as edema, phlebitis and thrombosis. This blood pooling can cause fatigue and leg cramps. Elevating the legs and feet may alleviate the pain temporarily, but it often returns after a few hours of constant standing or walking.
Compression socks use stronger elastics such as rubber or spandex to create significant pressure on the legs, ankles and feet. By compressing the surface veins, arteries and muscles, the circulating blood is forced through narrower channels. The arterial pressure is increased, causing more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet. Compression socks are tightest at the ankles, gradually become less constrictive towards the knees.
While these socks are most closely associated with athletes, they were originally designed to help those with a compromised circulatory system and many people now find their everyday use beneficial. It has been recommended that passengers on long flights wear compression socks to prevent circulatory problems like deep vein thrombosis, leg cramps and edema. Those with jobs that require long periods of standing on their feet may also benefit from the use of these socks.
Speak to your doctor to see if you can benefit from compression socks. If you do not have a doctor and would like to make an appointment at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-670-5486.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.