You may have noticed that the socks worn by basketball players and other athletes are a lot longer than they used to be. These are compression socks, and athletes wear them to improve blood flow, prevent injuries and speed up recovery times. Compression socks have been around for decades as a treatment for a wide range of medical conditions, but they have soared in popularity in recent years among people seeking to improve their overall health and give themselves an athletic edge.
These socks work by providing a form of compression therapy. They do this by gently squeezing the legs a little more than normal socks would. Improved blood flow is the chief benefit of compression therapy, which is why compression socks are the most commonly diagnosed treatment for chronic venous insufficiency. CVI is a dangerous condition that affects 4 in 10 people in the United States, and it develops when the one-way valves in veins stop working the way they should due to the normal aging process or long periods of standing or sitting.
Veins rely on these valves and leg and foot muscles to get blood back to the heart. When the valves stop working or do not work as well as once did, blood pools in the legs and blood pressure rises. Compression socks can prevent this from happening, and they can also prevent varicose veins and potentially deadly blood clots.
Types of Compression Socks
There are several types of compression socks available, but some of them are designed for use in specific medical situations. The compression socks that can be purchased over-the-counter like the socks from TRUEENERGY® are designed to provide mild compression to improve performance and promote good health.
Graduated Compression Socks
Graduated compression socks are at their tightest around the ankles and then get gradually looser as they rise up the leg. This is the most common kind of compression sock, and they usually extend to just below the knee.
Anti-embolism Compression Socks
Anti-embolism or thromboembolic deterrent compression socks provide more pressure and are designed to prevent deep vein thrombosis in people who lack mobility or are confined to bed. This kind of compression sock is prescribed by a doctor, and they are most often used in hospitals and care facilities.
Liners and Sleeves
Liners are compression socks that provide pressure to the feet but not the legs. They are cut in a way that allows them to stimulate blood flow while remaining invisible when shoes are worn. Compression sleeves are the opposite of liners. They are basically compression tubes that can be worn with regular socks to provide pressure above and below the knee. Compression sleeves are extremely popular among professional athletes because they support the ligaments and muscles around the knee, which reduces strain and prevents injuries.
Benefits of Compression Socks
Compression socks can improve the flow of blood from the legs to the heart, prevent aches and pains on long flights and make sitting or standing for long periods a lot more comfortable. As the popularity of compression socks grows, scientists are learning more about the benefits they provide.
Support for Leg Veins
About 90% of the blood that returns to the heart is carried there by deep veins that use one-way valves to keep everything moving in the right direction. Almost all leg problems that are not caused by trauma begin when this process becomes less efficient. Compression socks help by applying mild pressure to reduce the diameter of leg veins and stop blood from leaking or pooling and forming clots.
Swelling caused by fluid building up in tissue is called edema, and blood is usually the cause when the lower limbs are affected. This is a common problem among people with jobs that require them to stand for long periods. The swelling is not always noticeable, and people with edema often think their legs just feel heavy. Several scientific studies have shown that using compression socks to treat leg edema reduces swelling and eliminates pain, and socks that provided graduated pressure worked the best of all.
We are all familiar with that dizzy feeling that sometimes comes over us when we stand up. This is called orthostatic hypotension, and it is caused by rapid changes in blood pressure. Compression socks maintain blood pressure and prevent drops that can make us feel wobbly when standing up.
Performing even basic tasks can be painful the day after an intense workout. This discomfort is caused by an accumulation of lactic acid and other waste products in the muscles. A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine reveals that athletes who wore compression socks after a heavy workout had significantly lower blood acetate levels and less lactic acid buildup. This led to faster recovery times and less aches and pains the next day.
Many athletes suffer injuries when they begin to fatigue and their form starts to slip. A study published in Sports Medicine concluded that compression socks can greatly delay the onset of muscle fatigue. Compression socks also reduce swelling in the legs and feet, which can prevent chafing and blistering.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2015 suggests that compression socks can improve athletic performance. Scientists gave one group of marathon runners compression socks and another group socks that looked the same but provided no pressure. Wearing compression socks helped the first group to run for up to 103 seconds longer before reaching exhaustion on a treadmill. The group wearing placebo socks grew fatigued far more quickly.
How to Wear Compression Socks
Putting on compression socks is no different than putting on an ordinary pair of socks, but they sometimes feel a little strange at first. While compression socks do not have to be broken in like a new pair of shoes, they may take a little getting used to. The way to do this is to wear them for brief periods until you get acclimated. You should also pick socks that are not too long because rolling the tops down can make them too tight and restrict blood flow. You don’t have to wear compression socks all of the time, but you should put them on when you exercise, after a workout, when you have to stand or sit for a long time and before you fly.
The Healing Power of Infrared Technology
NASA scientists discovered that infrared light can help cells to produce energy. TRUEENERGY® has taken the fruits of this research to produce a line of compression socks for men and women that harnesses infrared technology to improve circulation, relieve pain, speed up healing and regenerate tissue. If you want to feel more comfortable at work or would like to get more out of your workouts without paying for it the next day, you should consider giving TRUEENERGY® infrared compression socks a try.