Doctor of Physical Therapy
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Sock it to ya!
Compression socks can be used for a variety of different scenarios whether you are recovering from surgery, have circulation problems, stand all day at work, or are an athlete. The socks help by keeping constant pressure around the feet and legs. The pressure should be greatest at the ankle and gradually decrease as the sock gets to the top of the calf. This assists the veins to help bring blood back to the heart and stop swelling around the feet and lower legs. Since the blood is continuing to be moved to and from the heart it is less likely that a blood clot will form. Blood clots can increase the difficulty for blood to flow around them which can cause swelling, skin discoloration, and be painful.
Athletes can use compression socks/sleeves and receive some benefits during and after exercise. When exercising, research shows small improvements with vertical jump height, short duration sprints and extended time to exhaustion with running and cycling. After exercise, compression socks have been shown to assist with faster strength and power recovery, decrease swelling in muscles, reduce post-workout soreness, and increase blood lactate removal.
When wearing compression socks, they should light flat against you and avoid having them bunch up in areas. Folding or rolling them down could cause them to become too tight and impair circulation instead of helping. If you are getting feelings of tingling, pins, and needles, or numbness, your compression socks are likely too tight. Compression socks can be an easy tool to help improve circulation whether you are an athlete looking to enhance recovery, someone that sits or stands all day for work, or recovering from surgery.