Compression socks are a type of apparel that are designed for compression therapy, or the application of gentle pressure on your legs to improve circulation. Wearing them reduces the diameter of the major veins in your legs, which in turn increases both the volume and velocity of your blood flow. This ensures that a healthy amount of blood goes back to your heart, all without refluxing downward back into your foot.
These socks are commonly worn by nurses, flight attendants, athletes, and other people in professions that require them to constantly be on their feet. They can also be prescribed by doctors for various reasons, like aiding a patient in their post-leg surgery recovery, relieving discomfort from deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or preventing blood clots from occurring in the legs. In these contexts, compression socks are used to reduce pain and swelling in the legs and afford the wearer some extra comfort.
If this is your first time getting a pair of men’s compression socks for yourself, however, it would be good for you to know more about them. To that end, here are four important things you need to know before you buy compression socks:
Products Vary in Terms of Compression Amount
Those unfamiliar with compression socks may think that they’re all one and the same. Contrary to that popular belief, however, there are three specific types that you can choose from:
- Graduated Compression Socks. These are the socks that have the strongest compression quality. Pairs of graduated compression socks often require professional fitting, as they’re manufactured to meet certain medical specifications.
- Anti-embolism Socks. These socks are specifically designed to reduce the possibility of DVT. The level of compression on each pair differs. They are typically worn by those who aren’t as mobile, like the elderly.
- Nonmedical Support Hosiery. In contrast to the other two types, compression socks that fall under this type are manufactured with a small amount of compression in each pair. They can be purchased over the counter and without a doctor’s prescription.
The third type of compression sock is the one that you’ll see the most often in pharmacies or apparel stores. These socks are safe to wear for the everyday pain and fatigue that you feel when you’re on the go.
You Should Speak to a Healthcare Professional for Additional Advice on Compression Socks
If you want to be sure that you can wear compression socks, or if you want something stronger than nonmedical support hosiery, it’s good to consult your doctor. There are certain situations in which compression socks aren’t recommended for wear. For example, they’re not advisable if you’re prone to skin infection or dermatitis, or if you have an ailment like peripheral neuropathy. In the latter case, this sensory problem could make it difficult for you to notice if your compression socks may be too tight. As a result, you may end up cutting off—rather than improving—the blood circulation in your legs and feet.
Otherwise, if you’re cleared by your doctor, you can ask them for additional advice on which pairs to use. The doctor can recommend the amount of compression you need for your legs, as well as how often you should wear your compression socks.
There’s a Proper Way to Put Compression Socks On
Compression socks look just like ordinary socks, but you have to take special care in putting them on. Make sure that your skin is completely dry, or else you’ll have difficulty pulling the fabric up. It also helps to be seated on a chair while putting the socks on, and not balancing yourself on one foot while leaning against a wall. When they’re properly on, see to it that all the seams run straight up the leg and that there are no wrinkles. Avoiding folding your socks or pulling them down.
If you’re still new to your compression socks, pay attention to how your legs feel. If they’re still painful or if your skin gets irritated, you may have gotten the wrong size or put them on incorrectly. Otherwise, they should feel snug and comfortable right off the bat.
Compression Socks Can Be Both Stylish and Comfortable
Knowing that compression socks are often used for medical purposes may give you the impression that most pairs are dull and boring. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Just like ordinary fashion socks or athletic socks, compression socks can come in a variety of lengths or styles. There are calf-crew, over the calf, and ankle-length socks with compression qualities.
These socks also come in many colors, patterns, and other designs. If you like clean and simple-looking ones, you can get plain solid-colored pairs that will match any outfit. If you prefer something more visually striking, you can choose those with more fashionable patterns like argyle, athletic stripes, or even animal print.
Whether you want simple compression socks or the type that you can accessorize is entirely up to you. All the same, you definitely have a lot of options to choose from, so feel free to experiment and find pairs that let you show off your sense of fashion.
Follow These Tips to Find Yourself the Right Pair of Compression Socks
Now that you know how compression socks work and what applications they’re best for, it’s time to go about choosing a pair or two for yourself. Get your doctor’s advice on socks with higher levels of compression, and when you’re in the clear, choose the socks that match your needs and your personal style.