by Heather Fletcher
Have you ever stood for so long that your legs feel like two cinder blocks are attached to them? Yeah, us too.
Anyone can experience this feeling after periods of immobility or continual pressure on the legs. Chronic leg discomfort is a serious burden, zapping your energy and your ability to live an active life. This type of discomfort is often associated with a lack of circulation in the legs — luckily, this is something that can be alleviated with the use of compression socks, which are designed to apply gradual pressure to the legs, helping blood to flow back up your body. The gentle squeeze they provide improves circulation, reducing fatigue and swelling in the legs. In some cases, wearing compression socks can even inhibit the formation of blood clots.
Anyone from a seasoned athlete or constantly on-the-go parent to a frequent flyer with mild leg swelling can benefit from compression socks. But if you still aren’t sure if you need compression socks, keep reading to discover five reasons you should consider adding a pair to your collection.
1. You’re Pregnant
We all know a woman (or have been that woman!) whose ankles and feet ballooned in size during their pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, extra fluid accounts for 25% of a woman’s weight gain during pregnancy. This fluid buildup, known as edema, is a normal part of pregnancy: The body produces extra blood and fluid to support the growing baby and accommodate it by helping tissues to stretch more readily. But this can have unpleasant side effects, such as swollen feet and legs. This kind of swelling during pregnancy can occur at any point, and is amplified by environmental factors such as heat or a high caffeine intake. Wearing compression socks throughout can help to relieve fluid accumulation in the lower body, resulting in a more comfortable experience.
2. You Like to Run
Have you ever sat on the sidelines of a marathon and seen runners wearing bright, knee-high socks? More than just an appealing fashion accessory, those socks are a practical and effective addition to a successful run. Compression socks are gaining popularity in the running community to improve and even prevent some common running conditions. Plantar fasciitis and shin splints can cripple a competitor, but the gentle pressure compression socks apply to the legs can increase blood flow and help to prevent these problems, or at least alleviate their symptoms. This helps to prolong a runner’s fresh legs and reduce the symptoms of activity-related ailments.
3. You Travel Frequently
Are you an avid traveler and often on jetting around the world on long-haul flights? Being crammed into a small space can make blood gather in the lower legs, causing swelling, fluid build-up and a feeling of heaviness in the legs. The frequent flyer may even be exposed to a higher risk of blood clots. The use of compression tights, socks or sleeves can increase circulation and alleviate fluid pressure in your legs, allowing you to hit the ground running when you reach your final destination (which is why we always keep a pair stashed in our carry-on bag).
4. You Stand All Day for Your Job
Many occupations require you to be on your feet for hours — running between patients if you’re a nurse or from one job site to the next if you’re a contractor. At the end of the day, your legs feel achy and you just want to collapse instead of enjoying your hours off the clock to the fullest. Adding compression therapy is an easy (and practically mindless) way to improve leg circulation and combat swelling and soreness. Plus, VIM & VIGR’s fashionable options make them an easy swap for the socks you’re already reaching for.
5. You Have a Medical Condition
If you suffer from diabetes and varicose veins, two medical conditions associated with vein and leg discomfort, doctors may recommend you add compression socks into your routine. Medical grade socks are available for these and other venous-related conditions, and wearing them regularly can improve circulation and prevent a worsening of these conditions.
A lack of adequate circulation in the legs — and the swelling, aching and leg heaviness it can lead to — are signals that compression socks could be right for you. With innovative fabrics and designs, today’s compression socks mean you no longer have to sacrifice fashion for function, and can suit any style. Compression socks can be an effective solution, but it’s important to consult your physician about any leg symptoms you experience, to rule out serious conditions.
Heather Fletcher is a lifestyle writer with 10 years of experience in health and wellness. She received her Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from The University of Pittsburgh. She enjoys everything fitness related and is a self-described foodie.