Working in construction means spending long hours on your feet. This can lead to swelling and foot pain, as well as added strain to your Achilles tendon, your calf muscles, and your shins. In other words, it’s no easy feat for the lower limbs!
Thanks to their tight grip and continuous massage of the legs, compression socks can be a great aide for construction workers looking for pain relief, boosted blood flow, and reduced risk of circulatory problems.
In this article, we’ll look at how construction workers can benefit from compression socks and we’ll give you tips on how to wear them and how to choose the right pair for you.
Why Construction Workers Need Compression Socks
Working in construction involves a lot of work on your feet: either standing around all day, or walking and placing strain on the lower limb muscles. This can be from climbing up and down ladders and stairs, carrying materials, and of course, kneeling down and moving around a lot.
On the one hand, construction workers suffer from the effects of gravity, just like many other professions: blood can pool around the ankles, having a hard time flowing back up to the heart. This is what causes feelings of heavy legs, fatigue, and swelling. On the other hand, all the activities associated with construction put strain on the feet, ankles, and lower legs. This includes a lot of effort for the calf muscles, over-charging the Achilles tendon, the ankle joint, the shins, or the foot. As a result, you could experience muscle or ligament pain and fatigue.
Compression socks work in two ways: stimulating blood flow and massaging and supporting the limbs. Graduated compression socks are tighter towards the feet and become looser towards the knees, which helps push blood back up towards the heart and prevents fluid from building up around the ankles. Moreover, better blood flow gives you more energy and helps muscles recover from hard work. The tight grip and gentle pressure that compression socks apply is also beneficial for soothing sore muscles, supporting the lower limbs, reducing the load onto the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and helping to prevent injuries.
Benefits of Compression Socks for Construction Workers
Compression socks are known to improve peripheral circulation, supporting healthy blood flow throughout the body. They also reduce the likelihood of blood clots, edema, discomfort and “heavy” feeling legs. Thanks to the gentle massage they provide to the muscles, they help reduce fatigue and boost muscle recovery, while also supporting the ligaments and joints during construction work.
Improved Circulation and Blood Flow
As they apply pressure to the lower legs and are tighter at the ankles, releasing the pressure gradually towards the knee, compression socks are fantastic tools to “fight gravity” and boost peripheral circulation. Instead of allowing blood to pool at the ankles, they stimulate an upwards flow towards the heart, which helps perpetuate healthy blood flow in the body.
As a result, construction and office workers alike can avoid the formation of blood clots and heavy, swollen legs. For any line of work where you’re either sitting or standing for long periods of time, there is the added risk of circulatory problems like varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis. Stimulating continued, healthy circulation reduces these risks.
Reduced Foot and Leg Swelling and Fatigue
Swelling in the lower legs is often caused by fluid retention, such as blood pooling around the ankles. By promoting healthy peripheral blood flow and lymph drainage, compression socks reduce the risk of swelling in the first place. Moreover, wearing them while your legs are swollen will provide some added benefits - massaging the affected area and bringing down inflammation.
Fatigue is often caused by the swelling from standing on your feet all day, as well as by over-soliciting the lower leg muscles. Since compression socks help take some of the pressure off your muscles, supporting the joints and massaging muscles to energize them, they also help avoid fatigue from settling in (or reduce its impact).
Muscle Support and Lower Risk of Injury
Compression socks grip the lower legs tightly, giving users a feeling of added support instantaneously. This is why they are favored by athletes returning to sport after an injury like Achilles tendonitis - giving them reassurance and extra ankle stability. In construction, there are so many opportunities for a leg injury, simply by spraining an ankle or through overuse. Wearing compression socks adds support to the joints and also protects the muscles from repeated strain and from micro-vibrations from landing on hard concrete.
Additionally, construction workers are at risk of developing occupational edema - swelling of the lower limbs caused by standing upright for long periods of time. Studies show that compression garments - sock in particular - are effective at reducing the risk of this.
Faster Recovery After Long Hours On-Site
Finally, a key benefit of wearing compression socks for construction is that they have been shown to reduce the time it takes to recover after effort. Athletes regularly wear them to boost blood flow to the lower leg muscles. This helps the muscles get oxygen and nutrients more quickly, essential for repair and recovery.
After long hours on a construction site, relaxing with compression socks will massage the limbs, reduce swelling and inflammation, and deliver nutrients to muscles such as the calves. It all contributes to quicker recovery, helping you feel more energized the following day and preventing long-term soreness.
How to Wear Compression Socks for Construction Work
Whether you choose to wear compression socks on the construction site or afterwards as a recovery tool, you can benefit from the boost in blood flow and muscle massage throughout the day.
Wearing Compression Socks with Work Boots
Compression socks pair well with work boots as they are knee-high and tight on the legs. Since most boots include ankle protection and ride higher up the leg, regular socks can roll down and become uncomfortable during the work day. Knee-high socks remove this issue, all while boosting peripheral circulation and keeping your feet warm and comfortable.
You should always ensure that you’re wearing the right size of socks so they don’t feel too tight and cut off your circulation. If they are too loose, they will also bunch up or roll down in the boots.
When and How Long to Wear Compression Socks
If it’s your first time experiencing compression wear, it’s a good idea to start by keeping your socks on for a couple of hours at a time. This is to get you used to the feeling of pressure on your limbs. So, wear your socks at home, maybe when you relax and recover after a work day.
Then, you can gradually extend the length of time you spend in your compression socks, up to the point where you are comfortable wearing them for a full work shift. If you wear your socks for the whole time you’re at work, you’ll get a dual benefit: preventing swelling, injuries, and discomfort, but also supporting your legs and reducing fatigue.
There’s no time limit to how long you should wear compression socks - it’s a matter of personal preference. We advise you to listen to your body, adapt as you go along, and enjoy the benefits!
Maintaining and Cleaning Your Compression Socks
One important aspect of using compression in your work is caring for your socks so that they maintain their flexibility and the pressure they apply to your legs. This means washing them after every wear, especially if you’ve had them on for the whole day. Wash your socks with regular detergent on a gentle cycle, or you can even wash them by hand.
Compression socks need to be left to dry naturally, as the dryer can affect the fibers and reduce their effectiveness. This is why you should maybe have 2-3 pairs on rotation if you start wearing them every day.
Additionally, take extra care when you put on and remove your socks. Don’t pull on the material - instead, follow a step-by-step guide to putting them on to maintain them in top shape. Avoid wearing jewelry or putting lotion on your legs or hands before you put on compression socks. You can wear gloves to protect your socks from catching if you have longer nails.
Choosing the Best Compression Socks for Construction Workers
To pick the best pair of compression socks for your construction shifts, you’ll need to consider the material (particularly as you’ll need breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics) and the sizing.
Durability and Material
Compression socks come in a variety of materials, from everyday cotton to more specialized nylon and merino wool. While cotton is great for wearing the whole day and it’s very versatile, it doesn’t wick away moisture as well as the other types of fabric. So, avoid it in hot and humid conditions.
For optimal temperature regulation, merino wool keeps feet cool and ventilated in the summer, but also warm and dry in winter. It’s also great for sensitive skin since merino fibers are hypoallergenic and antibacterial.
Both merino wool and nylon are great materials for more intense activities since they’re flexible and durable. Nylon socks are thinner and sleeker, moving seamlessly with your body, but you may find them a little thin when worn with work boots.
Breathability and Moisture Wicking
Both merino wool and nylon are great for breathability, with our special blend of moisture-wick nylon even more adapted to keeping feet dry. On a construction site, you’ll need breathable socks all year round, regardless of whether you work indoors or outdoors. But this becomes even more important in indoor environments or in hot weather.
One added benefit of merino wool compression socks is that they let feet breathe well even in more constricted footwear, such as work boots. Additionally, the antibacterial qualities of the fabric should help avoid any foot infections or discomfort from spending long hours in closed boots.
Sizing and Fit
To ensure you get the benefits of compression, you need to find the best size for you: not too loose, or the socks will roll down your legs; and not too tight, or they’ll be uncomfortable and cut off your circulation. The best way to get the sizing right is to measure your calf circumference and match that against your shoe size in a sizing table.
Once you have your socks, here are some tips to how they should fit for best results:
- The toes and heels should be nestled well in the extremities designed for them;
- There shouldn’t be any folding or bunching of the material - smooth it out after you’ve put on your socks;
- The top line of the sock should be just under your knee and the sock should cover your calf muscles comfortably.
Well fitting, comfortable compression socks will feel tight, but they shouldn’t be able to keep you from doing your regular activities. Instead, they should make your legs and feet feel lighter and more energized, helping you face the day with a smile!