Medical personnel, restaurant staff, and store clerks are just a few of the people who have to stand for long hours while on the job. Often, these workers spend at least 8-10 hours per day on their feet. Standing all day has been linked to an increased risk of varicose veins, and it also causes blood to pool in the legs, reducing circulation. This reduction in circulation in the legs is what causes the pain and soreness that many workers feel after standing for extended periods.
For workers who must stand all day, compression socks, also known as compression stockings, can offer relief from leg and foot pain and reduce the risk of varicose veins. Used by everyone from post-surgical patients to long-distance runners, these specialized garments have many benefits for workers. Compression socks work by applying gentle pressure to the lower limbs which increases blood flow and prevents blood from pooling in these areas. Specifically, they compress not just the leg muscles but the larger leg veins as well, reducing their diameter and increasing the speed at which blood flows through them. This helps to reduce the risk of swelling (edema) and the all-to-familiar feeling of heaviness in the legs that many workers know. Thus, workers who choose to wear compression socks may be able to stand on their feet for longer periods without pain, which will help their job performance. Occasionally, wearing compression socks can increase leg pain if they are worn too long, so always check with your doctor for guidance on how long it’s safe for you to wear them, especially if you have any vascular disorders.
Compression socks come in a wide variety of sizes and compression gradients. It’s very important to choose the right size and amount of compression for your particular needs. Compression socks are available at drugstores, and you can also order them online, where you may find a better selection. If needed, your doctor can help you determine the ideal compression sock for you and write a prescription; this is particularly useful if you need very high compression. Some specialty medical supply stores also offer custom fittings for compression stockings.
Generally, the recommended compression amount for compression socks is at least 10-15mmHg. If you can tolerate those, you can consider going up to 20-30mmHg of compression. These may provide additional support, but as the amount of compression increases, the socks become harder to put on and take off. Try different compression amounts and see what feels most comfortable for you.
Compression socks are now widely available in a variety of styles and colors. Many of them are even made to look like regular dress socks or hosiery, so they will coordinate nicely with your work attire, and you don’t have to feel like you need to hide them! Solid White and black are the most popular color choices, but now printed, colorful styles are available, too. Though most people opt for the knee-high version of compression socks, for some people, these can actually disturb circulation, since they cut off right before the knee. For these individuals, full-length compression hose are available, both with and without feet, and these may provide a more comfortable and supportive option.
Compression socks can increase your work productivity and help you stand longer without feeling heaviness or pain in your legs. Experiment with different sizes and compression amounts to see what works for you. Always ask your doctor if you are experiencing any prolonged leg pain. Good luck with your compression sock shopping!