When you’ve been traveling a lot and sitting still, or when you’re on your feet all day and your blood flow seems to just not cooperate with your lower limbs, you are very likely to get swollen feet and ankles. This is not necessarily painful for everyone, but it’s a condition that becomes uncomfortable and a real nuisance, depending on how far it develops.
How can you treat swollen feet and ankles gently and effectively with compression socks? Thanks to the gradual pressure exerted on your lower limbs, you can get real benefits from wearing compression socks when your feet and ankles are swollen and sore, and you can also prevent them from becoming this way.
Read on to find out:
- Whether compression socks help swollen feet and ankles;
- The reasons your feet and ankles are likely to swell;
- What benefits you can get from compression socks;
- How to wear compression socks for swollen ankles and feet;
- How to pick the best socks for your situation.
Do Compression Socks Help With Swollen Feet?
Swelling in the lower legs, especially around the feet and ankles, can be extremely uncomfortable. If you do nothing about it, this can develop into edema (a more serious form of swelling) or, worse, deep vein thrombosis and other uncomfortable and dangerous conditions.
Thankfully, compression socks for swollen feet act to counter the pooling of blood and/or fluid around your lower limbs. They do this by stimulating blood flow, thanks to the gradual pressure applied from below the knee all the way down and all around your feet.
Common Causes for Swollen Feet and Ankles
Before you pick out a pair of compression socks for swollen ankles or feet, you may be wondering what’s causing the swelling and what you can do to avoid it. Here are some common scenarios leading to swollen feet and ankles.
Sitting, Standing or Walking All Day
When you spend a long time with your legs either vertical or not moving, e.g. sitting down, especially in a small space like on a plane, you’re more likely to develop swollen ankles and feet. People on long haul flights, where they can’t properly stretch their legs, experience this, as do those who stand around all day – think, for example, at an exhibition if you work in sales.
Being on your feet all day puts 20% more strain on your circulation, causing additional fatigue and soreness on top of the swollen feet or ankles. This happens with nurses, for example.
Expecting mothers also experience swelling in their legs and ankles, among other sources of discomfort. Fluid build-up or lack of mobility contribute to this, and compression socks can be a great help for keeping blood flow moving into your lower legs when pregnant.
Extreme swelling can be caused by edema, which is likely to lead to more discomfort and health issues. When you feel that your legs are puffy and heavy, this can be a sign of this condition. While edema can be no more than temporary swelling (such as that caused by standing or sitting), it can also be a symptom of more serious issues. Therefore, those suffering with edema often and for long periods of time should always consult with their doctor.
Perhaps a lesser known cause for swelling in the feet and ankles is medication itself. Calcium channel blockers, like the drug amlodipine, is an example of such drugs – around half of people who take them have this side effect.
Drugs used for blood pressure and hormone drugs can also lead to swollen feet and ankles. This is also the case when you take cancer chemotherapy drugs, drugs used to treat seizures, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-diabetes or antidepressant drugs.
Some Medical Conditions
There are various other possible causes for swollen feet and ankles, some which come from physical activity or injuries, and some caused by medical problems. Moreover, doctors sometimes recommend that patients wear compression socks when recovering from surgery, to prevent blood clots forming in the veins – so this will be relevant to those who have undergone surgery in their feet or ankle area.
We’ve mentioned edema – i.e., swelling in the lower limbs. This can be caused by blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis, or even liver or kidney disease. Other chronic conditions like venous insufficiency also lead to swollen feet. You should always consult with a medical specialist of swelling starts suddenly and doesn’t go away naturally.
Additionally, runners and hikers can sprain an ankle by accident. This leads to swelling in the area, and can be treated with rest, ice and elevation. Wearing compression socks when recovering from a sprained ankle can help with recovery and reducing the swelling and discomfort, too.
The Benefits of Compression Socks for Swollen Feet and Ankles
So, what benefits can compression socks bring to those suffering from swollen feet or ankles? Thanks to gradual, gentle pressure applied to the lower limbs, stimulating blood flow and reducing inflammation and pain, compression socks can be very effective against swollen ankles and feet.
Here are their main benefits:
- Gradual reduction in swelling and pain;
- Protection from cuts, grazes or other hazards – especially helpful for those with reduced mobility or for diabetes patients;
- Boost in blood flow, avoiding the creation of blood clots and further swelling;
- General feeling of wellbeing and lighter legs;
- Support during physical activities – better supporting muscles in the lower legs and the ankles;
- Improved muscle recovery and athletic performance.
How to Wear Compression Socks for Swollen Ankles and Feet
When you first start to wear compression socks, we recommend that you consider the type of activity you’ll be doing when wearing them, as this will influence the material and style of garment. For example, if hiking, you may prefer Merino wool compression socks that are warm and moisture-wicking, but if you’re just gearing up for a long flight, you might only need a pair of cotton socks.
You should start wearing compression socks gradually, by putting them on for 2-3 hours at a time and seeing how your body adapts to the feeling of pressure. When you’re comfortable, you can then wear them for longer stretches of time. You can then begin to wear your socks as a preventive measure, too, rather than wait until your legs are swollen to do something about it.
How long can you wear compression socks?
There is no time restriction around wearing compression socks, but you should gradually ease into them and allow yourself to get used to the pressure. Once you’re fully comfortable, you can safely wear compression socks for 24 hours at a time, if needed.
Does sleeping in compression socks help swollen feet?
Raising your legs and feet and relaxing after standing or sitting for a long stretch of time will be very beneficial for swollen feet. Additionally, keeping compression socks on in bed can continue to stimulate the blood circulation and give you more benefits – such as keeping you warm! However, the most important impact from compression socks comes when they’re fighting gravity – so when you’re sitting or standing, rather than lying down.
The Best Compression Socks for Swollen Feet and Ankles
To find the best socks for you, here are some factors you should consider:
- Compression socks need to feel tight, but not uncomfortable on your ankles and lower limbs. You should consult with a specialist in store and try on different sizes until you find the best fit for you and your condition;
- Depending on the activity and the weather conditions, choosing different materials will also give you additional benefits when you wear your compression socks for swollen feet. For example, moisture-wicking Nylon or Merino wool are great for keeping your feet dry and cool in the heat, while cotton goes with pretty much any type of weather but might not be ideal for running or hiking;
- If you’ve never worn compression stockings or socks before, you should start by trying moderate pressure levels (15-20 mm Hg) and allow your limbs to adjust to that before going for higher levels of compression. You can use our guide to start with, and also consult with your physician if they are suggesting that you wear compression socks after surgery or for a medical condition.
You can browse a large variety of fashionable and effective compression socks on our website. Enjoy the pain relief for lighter, better feeling feet and ankles thanks to compression wear!