Without trying to be evasive, the answer to this questions will have to be – “It depends”. Support socks and full length support pantyhose as well as graduated compression socks and graduated compression stockings have their place and unique benefits in the selection of compression and support hosiery.
Why Support Socks or Compression Socks and When Should you Wear Them?
Compression and support socks like any other type of sock are designed to cover the area from the knee down to the tip of our toes. What makes them different from everyday socks, as the name implies, is the fact that they provide support and/or compression.
Why would our calves, ankles and feet need support or compression? Well, they may or may not need support but it is a proven fact that compression and support is better. The need for support socks or compression stockings simply lies in the fact that our legs and feet are subject to the rigors and stresses from daily living. This includes activity as well inactivity such as walking, running, standing or sitting. Other strains affecting the legs and feet are simply the daily tasks of supporting our body weight and our leg vein system having to overcome the effects of gravity in circulating the blood back to the heart and lungs.
If your legs and feet are aching, heavy or tired feeling or even swollen throughout the day or at the end of the day you just know that they could use some “support”. If the described symptoms are a regular occurrence it may be a good idea to make an appointment with your physician and try to get to the root of the problem. It is always better to address any vein and circulation related issues early on before they can cause more serious problems. These problems will most certainly progress over time if left untreated.
Even if your legs exhibit no signs of pain, fatigue or swelling (yet) they can still benefit from a little extra support to promote general health and well-being. Support socks are uniquely suited to prevent or improve venous and/or circulation issues in the legs such as spider veins or varicose veins, pooling of blood or fluids in the legs (edema). Support socks can bring soothing comfort and new energy to the legs of individuals who have to spend long hours standing or sitting as a result of their occupations (e.g. waiters and waitresses, nurses, doctors, fast food and store attendants or bus and truck drivers to just name a few).
Athletes have found that compression socks can help them recover faster, prevent muscle fatigue, and reduce the risk of injuries. Airline flight personnel and travelers frequently protect themselves against the risk of deep vein thrombosis during long distance flights by wearing travel socks, flight socks or other graduated compression hosiery.
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Compression socks and stockings are available in different levels of compression strength. Generally graduated compression socks or stockings of compression strength 8-15 mmHg and 15-20 mmHg are available over the counter and do not require a physician’s prescription.
Any compression hosiery above 20 mmHg should definitely not be applied without the prior consultation of a physician. To be absolutely sure there is nothing that would prevent you from using compression socks or stockings, it is best to discuss the situation with your health care provider first before making any changes that could affect your health.
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