What Are Calf Compression Socks?
The circulation system is dependent on the oxygen-rich blood, which flows through your veins from your heart. Once the oxygen is distributed, the blood returns to a different set of veins to get replenished. However, the veins of your leg work against gravity to return to the heart. The arteries and veins in your legs get weaker over time.
Compression socks come in to solve this problem. They apply the necessary pressure to support the veins to send blood back to your heart. Doctors recommend compression sleeves and socks for patients with certain medical conditions. They are also popular over the counter for people who stand for the better part of their day and those over 65.
What Is the Difference Between Compression Sleeves and Socks?
Compression sleeves cover your calves, while compression socks protect your feet and ankle. Some conditions require you to go for compression socks, such as edema. Compression sleeves are relatively easier to put on and are more popular among athletes such as swimmers.
How Do Compression Socks Work?
Complications in blood circulations in your legs mainly arise from venous insufficiency. It is a condition where the blood flowing back to the heart is impaired by either defective valves or weaker walls of the vessels. They cannot generate the pressure needed to send blood back to the heart.
Blood that cannot flow back to the heart remains in the leg in small pools. In the long run, it leads to swelling of blood vessels of the feet, a condition known as edema. The condition is more prevalent in older people and those with a family history of the disease or deep vein thrombosis. Women, especially pregnant ones, obese and tall people are also more prone to venous insufficiency.
Calf compression sleeves and socks apply pressure on the feet and the ankles. They gently caress the calf muscles to strengthen the vein walls, allowing the valves in the veins to open in the right direction. By contracting, the muscles can push the blood back to the heart.
The Types of Compression Socks
There are three types of calf compression socks, nonmedical support hosiery, anti-embolism socks, and graduated compression socks.
Nonmedical support hose - This is the most common of the three. There are different levels of these socks based on your comfort level. They are available over the counter in various lengths, patterns, and fabrics.
Graduated compression socks - These socks are tighter around the ankle and become looser higher up the leg. They come in two variations, thigh-high and knee-high lengths. They are more popular among athletes.
Anti-embolism stockings - These socks are suited to address a specific purpose. They are centered around preventing blood clots and maintaining blood circulation. They are more common in patients confined to their bed, for example, after surgery.
Different Types of Calf Pain
There are different types of calf pain you might experience in your calves. Some of them include:
Calf Pain Strain - It mainly stems from running or playing sports. Some of the common symptoms include bruising, swelling, and pain.
Baker's Cyst - This is a condition in the leg when excess fluid is accumulated. It causes a lot of pain, and at times it might rupture, causing the fluid to flow into the calf.
Medial Strain - This pain is derived from the medial head when you are injured or when it is strained.
You might also experience pain from leg cramps or blood clots. They are addressed differently depending on the cause. It is vital to determine the root of the pain before seeking a treatment program.
Can Anyone Wear Them?
You do not need a doctor's approval to try calf compression socks. They are tighter than regular socks and leave indentations on your leg if you have them on for long periods. Most of the time, this does not affect your circulation. This is not the case for people with a severe reduction in their heart function.
If you also have any arterial disease with poor blood flow between your feet or legs, you should consult a doctor before going for one. Most of the compression socks in stores are of light to medium compression. This is so that they can apply to people of various ages. The best way to find your best suit is to try them yourselves and see what is right for you.
Best Practices for Compression Socks
Below are some of the best practices for safely wearing compression socks:
Do not have the compression socks on all of the time. Take them off every day and replace them with a clean and dry pair so that the socks do not adhere to your skin and become difficult to remove.
Please dispose of your compression socks after wearing them about 30 times. As soon as you notice them losing their stretch, it would be best if you disposed of them.
If you happen to lose or gain weight, you should adjust your socks to the correct size according to your weight.
Check for any changes in your skin such as dents or dryness when having the calf compression sleeves on
Be sure to wash your compression sleeves and socks and hang them to dry.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to the latter and be sure to consult a healthcare provider.
When To See a Doctor
The socks do help to avoid some of the circulation defects. This does not mean that you should ignore other signs and symptoms. If you happen to notice these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider:
Change in skin color to bluish or purple
Rapid breathing, especially after a short exercise
Leg cramps that are persistent in both legs
Loss of blood circulation that is persistent in both legs
Pulses that feel like they are out of rhythm
Red sore or warmth in one area of your vein
It is not recommended to have your calf compression sleeves for an extended period. If you happen to have difficulties when trying to remove them, you should consult a doctor for further assistance.
Benefits of Compression Socks
Stability - The problem arises from tension in the leg muscles. When you hit the ground with force, you feel a surge of vibration from the legs up the body. At first, you might not feel anything, but it might lead to complications in the future. Compression sleeves and socks help reduce the impact when you hit the ground and give you more stability. This reduces the effect that the force can cause.
Blood Circulation - The core benefit of socks is improved blood circulation in the leg veins. This is crucial for athletes such as runners and swimmers. An increased flow of blood to the muscles leads to oxygenation. An adequate supply of oxygen to the muscles reduces pain in the calves and throughout the body.
Protection - If you have chronic leg problems, your doctor might recommend wearing compression sleeves or socks. This preventive measure complements the treatment needed to avoid more leg issues.
Swelling - Several people often experience swelling and pain in the calf region. It can result in inflammation. Compression socks can help reduce swelling and pain to prevent it from occurring.
Complementing Cancer Treatment - Compression sleeves and socks can be used to alleviate some of the effects of radiation treatment. Chemotherapy for cancer patients can lead to leg swelling due to fluid retention.
Weight Loss - The sleeves and socks are essential to improve circulation. Due to your muscles being stagnant for long periods, you have to exercise even more. The socks pack your body parts with excess fat. It improves the overall contour of your body. Compression sleeves complement your overall look due to their compactness and help you to avoid fatty deposits from distracting you while exercising.
Compression socks and sleeves are essential to reducing inflammation and pain in the calf area. It is vital not to have the same pair of calf compression socks on for an extended period. You should consult a doctor about the length of wear time recommended for treating your symptoms.
If you happen to use compression sleeves frequently, you should consider getting a prescription for the medical ones. If you start experiencing the side effects of having the socks for a long time, you take them off for some time and let your doctor know about the situation.