Compression socks, also known as support socks, are a therapeutic garment made to apply graduated pressure to the ankle and legs. Although some people must wear compression hose that reach the top of the thigh, compression socks more commonly reach to just below the knee. The leggings are made using high-strength elastic material such as spandex, Lycra or rubber. These materials apply a great amount of pressure to the ankles, calves and legs.
The primary reason someone is directed by a doctor to use compression legwear is due to poor circulation. Even though the heart pumps blood throughout the body, gravity can cause blood to settle and pool in the legs and feet. This pooling, in turn, creates more severe problems such as edema, thrombosis and phlebitis. Other conditions that are also associated with poor circulation in the lower legs and feet include leg cramps, fatigue, and varicose veins. Many of these conditions can be temporarily treated by elevating the legs and feet above the level of the heart, but symptoms return after only 1 to 2 hours of standing, walking or even regular sitting.
While it would seem that compressing parts of the body would hamper circulation, the amount of pressure in support socks does just the opposite. They compress the blood vessels near the surface of the body most. This pressure forces blood through the narrow inner channels and tightens the blood vessels just enough to provide some extra force to help the blood flow back up the legs and not settle back down into the ankles.
Compression stockings are available through Internet suppliers and at the drugstore. They have different levels of compression pressure. This pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Support socks come in different strengths, 10 to 15 mmHg and 15 to 20 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg, 30 to 40 mmHg, 40 to 50 mmHg, and 50+ mmHg. Additionally, they can be custom made to support very specific ranges of compression. The pressure applied to the body is greatest at the ankle and then gradually tapers off to the low end of their stated range.
In recent years, compression and support socks have been recommended for a variety of everyday uses. Some athletes wear them while playing, saying they give them a slight edge while running and jumping. People who work on their feet for several hours each day have also begun to wear them, and the socks are being recommended by doctors for long flights. customized socks with logo