Our feet are our foundation. They are what keep us moving. Learning to treat your feet with respect is really important for your overall health. Face it, if your feet hurt everything hurts! We have talked many times about the benefits of great shoes, now it’s time to talk about socks. I’m not just going to talk about any socks, today I am talking about compression socks.
In my line of work I deal with compression socks a good bit. I fit individuals for socks that have been recommended by their doctors but also give advice and suggestions on compression socks for those who need/want them, without having seen a doctor. Compression socks are good for many things. Most of the time I see people who need them for swelling. I also see a good portion coming from the vascular doctors to help with varicose and spider veins. Compression socks can help with the achy, heavy feeling in the legs and can help prevent blood clots.
Compression socks come in many styles, materials, and ratings of compression. They can vary from knee highs to thigh highs, and even full pantyhose. Among these styles they also offer toe-less options (to help with ingrown and other toe-related problems). Some of the different fabrics available are: nylon, micro-nylon, cotton, wool, and bamboo charcoal. More recently they have become trendier with lots of colors and cute patterns! The most important thing about the compression sock, hands down, is the rating of compression. The rating of compression determines how “tight” they are going to be. Compression sock ratings are in the unit of millimeters of mercury or mmHg. The compression range varies with ratings such as: 10-15 mmHg, 15-20 mmHg, 20-30 mmHg, and 30-40 mmHg (the higher the numbers the higher the compression). All of these factors (style, material, and rating) are taken into account. You can always go to your doctor and ask which would be best for you, but you do not need to have a doctor’s recommendation to utilize the benefits of compression.
Compression socks can be a bit difficult to get on, especially for someone who can’t bend and move like they used to. Luckily there are some tricks to help make this seemingly daunting task a lot easier. Practice will also help! To put on your compression socks follow these steps:
- Be sure to put your compression socks on in the morning when your legs are less swollen.
- Fold/roll the socks all the way down to the heel.
- Put your foot into the stocking as far as you can and make sure your heel is in the heel of the sock.
- To pull the stocking up, unfold/unroll the sock over your leg.
- Smooth out any wrinkles or imperfections, adjust the socks if you need.
- Throughout the day if you notice it is bunching or wrinkling FIX IT. DO NOT let it stay wrinkled, it can cut off or slow down circulation.
- Knee length stockings should come to 2 fingers below the knee bend.
If you are still having trouble with your stockings try these quick tricks:
- If you use lotion on your legs, let it dry before you put on the stockings.
- Use a little baby powder or cornstarch on your legs. This should help the socks slide up a bit easier.
- Get a pair of donning gloves, or rubber dish washing gloves will work. Use your hands to adjust the sock and smooth it out.
- Use a special gadget called a stocking donning stand to slide the stocking over your foot. We offer donning stands here at The Right Shoe.
Make sure you wash your socks after every wear. Most people have more than one pair and alternate while washing. Hand washing your socks with warm water and soap, or using a mesh bag in the washing machine on delicate is best to avoid runs. Air drying is recommended. The average life of compression socks are about six months if they are worn every day. Anyone can wear compression socks. They are great for long trips, people often wear them while on airplanes. They are also great for working long shifts, they keep your blood moving which legs less achy. I personally love to wear them even though I have no medical need, I use them more as “preventive maintenance” to keep the spider veins away.