Last Updated on 23rd November 2018
Compression stockings are not usually viewed as a fashionable item, and often can be perceived as something that is just for older people or pregnant women. However, the benefits of compression stockings can be reaped by anyone, and there are a number of different kinds that can actually be stylish and modern.
What Are the Benefits?
Compression stockings help to prevent and alleviate a number of problems, and can be useful for people at various life stages and activity levels.
Their purpose is to provide pressure against the legs, to help blood more easily move back towards the heart. Usually blood is pumped by the heart throughout the body, and then small valves in the veins help the blood to move back from the lower extremities upwards. These valves are working against gravity, stopping the blood from flowing down and pooling in the lower legs. Eddie Chaloner, a renown vascular surgeon, explains on his website that stockings are tighter at the ankle and then less tight towards the thigh. This creates a ‘squeezing’ effect where blood is pushed upwards, allowing the small valves inside the leg to function more easily. He also explains how long you should keep compression stockings on.
You may have heard of these stockings as something that older people use, but they can be used in other ways. For example, if you go on long flights for work or fun, and you dislike the swelling that occurs in your ankles and lower legs, you can use compression stockings to fix this. Dr. David L. Green, a hematologist at NYU Langone Medical Center notes that compression stockings can be effective at reducing the chances of a blood clot forming while flying, because it applies pressure to the veins and increases circulation. He also notes that “legs can look puffy after flying, and it takes at least a few days for that to go away, but with the socks, they might not swell at all.”
If you have a sedentary job like working in an office, you can also use them to prevent varicose veins from forming over time. When you sit down for long periods of time, circulation in the legs can also be reduced and blood can begin to pool. While you may not have any varicose veins currently developing, as you get older the veins can become less effective at their job, and using compression stockings preemptively can help to keep your veins and legs looking good and functioning well before you run into any issues.
What Different Kinds Are There?
Compression stockings come in a number of different forms, and there are also a number of fashionable and stylish options on the market as younger women and sports-people become interested. Knee-high socks are becoming more in vogue again in general, with fashion shows in the last few years showing models wearing leather, lace, and patterned socks. Compression stockings are available in a number of different patterns and styles so that they look just like normal stockings.
They are also available for athletes, with a number of compression stockings becoming popular for sports performance and muscle recovery.
There are multiple different compression levels available, from light support to higher pressure stockings. Those with light support can be found in regular clothing stores and fashion boutiques, and “incredibly sheer, lightweight and fashionable products are available in the lower compressions”. These are useful for relief from tired legs or mild swelling, preventing varicose and spider veins, and for muscle cramps or pain from long periods of sitting or standing. Stockings with higher compression levels for medical issues are usually by prescription only, though you may be able to obtain medium-compression stockings at a pharmacy if, for example, you go on large numbers of long-haul flights. If you think you have a medical issue needing higher compression, speak to your doctor or go to a vein clinic to discuss whether compression stockings are right for you.
In any case, compression stockings are no longer just for grandma, and you should look into whether they might provide you with any benefits in your daily life. Fashionable and patterned options of low compression levels are readily available, and can keep your legs looking nice while preventing problems from developing in the future.