by Erica Garza
The average American worker spends more than half their day sitting. Sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950, raising the risk of a number of health concerns, including deep vein thrombosis caused by poor circulation in the legs. Unfortunately, standing all day isn’t so great for your health either.
Whether you spend your entire work day on your feet or sitting at a desk, wearing compression socks could make a positive difference in your health. Here are the reasons why you should be wearing compression socks at work, no matter if you’re tied to your laptop all day or running around on your feet for long stretches.
Increases Blood Flow
Contrary to popular myth, sitting is not the new smoking, but research does show that sitting for 90 minutes or more can cause blood flow below the knees to decrease by 50 percent. This reduction in blood flow greatly increases the chance of blood clots and reduces the flow of freshly oxygenated blood to the legs. Compression socks maintain blood flow by applying pressure to the lower legs, resulting in less fatigue, soreness and swelling in the calves, ankles and feet.
May Prevent Varicose Veins
Standing all day isn’t always better than a sedentary work day. Being on your feet places greater strain on your circulatory system and on the legs and feet, potentially resulting in varicose veins or making them worse. Compression socks help by compressing the varicose veins, improving circulation and reducing pain.
Lowers the Risk of DVT
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is another risk associated with sitting or standing for long periods of time without regular movement. While there isn't much public awareness about job-related DVT (though the risks of DVT while traveling is well-documented, and is why you should always keep a pair of compression socks in your carry-on), research shows that prolonged, cramped sitting increases the risk of DVT of the legs and its frequent outcome, pulmonary embolism. As compression socks greatly reduce the risk of blood clot formation, they also reduce the risk of developing DVT. Compression socks also present a natural, non-pharmaceutical alternative to more commonly prescribed blood thinners.
Compression socks don’t just help to maintain proper blood circulation, but they also aid the flow of fluid through the lymphatic system. Like our veins, the lymphatic system is not pressurized and must work against gravity to move fluid up the legs, but this doesn’t work as efficiently if we’re sitting or standing too much. Besides swelling, the result of a compromised lymphatic system is whole-body fatigue and weakened immunity. When you wear compression socks, fluid in the legs can circulate with ease, leading to increased energy throughout your day.
Ideal for Numerous Professions
Physically active jobs now make up less than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce, down from roughly half of all jobs in 1960. Compression socks are ideal for nurses, office workers, flight attendants, customer support team members, salespeople, teachers and just about anyone else who spends long periods of time either sitting or standing without other varieties of physical activity.
Compression Can Be Fashion-Forward
As more and more people have become aware of the risks associated with sitting or standing for long periods of time, the demand for compression socks has gone up. VIM & VIGR is meeting that demand with fashionable styles suitable for the workplace, whether your job is in the ICU wing of a hospital or even the headquarters of a high-end fashion magazine.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.