The use of compression has been around since the time of Hippocrates (5th century BCE). In modern times research has proven their effectiveness in certain conditions such as venous insufficiency and leg ulcers. In general, there is a rising use of compression stockings for other reasons.
How compression works. Veins, which return blood to the heart, have valves. If the walls of the vein become weakened, those valves can fail to close, causing pooling of blood in the veins. Over time, this leads to a back of fluid in the tissue space. The lymph system which normally transport this fluid away becomes overwhelmed and the legs can become chronically swollen, discolored and hard. Compression can support the veins and skin so that they can function better. The effect can be dramatic, but also slow and accumulative over time. Like watering a plant, consistency can result in a bigger healthier plant. So regular use of compression can result in healthier tissues over the course of years. This is shown in research for conditions such as lymphedema or chronic venous insufficiency. Some speculate that it is good for prevention and other uses as well, such as travel and sport.
Research supports the use of compression when on air flights longer than four hours. The research is mixed on the use of compression for sport. One study Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, with positive results, showed that using compression socks reduced heart rates during exercise as well as lactate values and increased oxygen saturation. The study received product support from Zoot Sports, an athletic gear supplier. Although compression most likely won’t improve performance, it could help prevent some soreness.
Is compression something you should consider?
Many people have jobs that require a lot of prolonged sitting or standing. If your legs feel tired and achy at the end of the day, compression can help your legs feel better, and prevent a worse problem.
How to easily make compression a part of your wardrobe
Apply these steps to making compression a natural part of your daily routine:
#1 Finding something you enjoy wearing. There are an increasing number of compression products for all parts of the body, and for different activities. There is more choice in colors and patterns. If you find something that appeals to you, you are more likely to wear it.
#2 Ease your way into it. Compression varies in strength and the amount of the body that is covered. Different conditions require different amounts of compression. If you are not used to wearing compression, starting with lighter compression over a smaller area and for a shorter amount of time. Then work into more vigorous compression. That process can help you be consistent. You may choose to wear compression only with work or exercise, and give your self time off at other times.
#3 Work with someone who can help you find the right product for you. Due to the increasing complexity of the compression market, there are people who dedicate their work to helping people find the right compression and fit. Isaac Nelson, at Therapy Solutions, is a certified lymphedema therapist and massage therapist who offers the service of garment consultations for better health, and sport performance!