by Nick Marshall
Newcomers to the world of compression socks might think that they’re just, well, socks. True, they could be worn simply for a flash of color or a bold pattern or two, but there are far greater benefits on offer. Another misconception is that compression socks are purely for medical use. Sure, their medical benefits are well-documented, but because compression socks are designed to boost circulation and drive fluid away from the feet, they can significantly change the experience and results of anything from a workout to the working day. All of which means these socks belong just as firmly in your arsenal for outdoor, fitness or wellness-related activities as they do in your medicine cabinet. Here are four unexpected benefits that compression socks can bring to your daily life.
1. Smoother Workouts
If you’re a keen runner, you’ll know how frustrating it is to be sidelined with an injury. In fact, some 65 percent of runners suffer injury at least once a year. The constant pounding can lead to ankle soreness, shin splints and inflammation. Compression socks reduce the stress on your muscles during a workout or exercise and help your legs recover quicker, which is why they’re increasingly popular on a race’s starting line. They also make circulation more efficient, which can reduce muscle fatigue during a run or race. As part of a recovery strategy, compression socks also stop lactic acid from building up in tired muscles, which is why they’re also making their presence felt in cycling as a way to soothe exhausted calf muscles.
2. Better Sleep Quality
Most people who wear compression socks roll them on during the daytime and remove them before going to bed. That’s because the socks work hardest when you’re standing but are less necessary once you’re lying down and your circulation is no longer wrestling with gravity. There are, however, some unexpected cases where compression socks at night can improve sleep. Studies have shown that compression stockings can have a modest effect on reducing sleep apnea and may also reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, which can otherwise ruin a good night’s sleep. Check with a medical professional if this sounds like you since you may need a medical-grade sock with a compression level around 20 to 30 mmHg.
3. Easier Travel
Picture this: You have to catch a long-haul domestic or international flight to a family gathering or event. You’ve picked out your best outfit, and you shoes are shining — only for you to discover at the last minute that they won’t fit over two swollen, reddened feet. This is all-too-familiar for regular air passengers. In the lower pressure of an airline cabin, especially if you’re sitting down for long periods, feet and ankles have a tendency to swell, causing discomfort and soreness. What do experienced travelers do? They slip on a pair of compression socks ahead of time, which keeps the blood flowing while you are in the air, and the feet and ankles ready for showtime once you touch down.
4. Reduced Swelling During Pregnancy
The belly’s not the only thing that grows during pregnancy. One of the more uncomfortable side effects is fluid retention, particularly around the feet and ankles. That can be especially frustrating if you want to stay active throughout your term. Luckily, compression socks offer a safe, reliable remedy. Slip them on and they’ll take a load off the two of you, with the added benefit that they’ll keep your feet and toes nice and snug in the process.
If you’re thinking of giving compression socks a try, you can do so without worrying about any potential risk. Start with a compression level that’s comfortable according to your activity and size, and prepare to be surprised. You may just discover some unexpected benefits that make you question how you ever managed without them.