By Rehan Iqbal
Have you noticed all the compression socks and stockings hitting the market online and in local stores? You can find compression stockings in hundreds, potentially thousands, of designs or select from a wide range of bright solid colors. Neutral colors like white, black, and beige are still available, but the decorative designs are making an appearance even in stores that don’t otherwise carry socks or footwear.
The popularity of compression stockings is due to scientific research proving they can help with lower body circulation. Now that most people either stand or sit most of the day for work, rates of vein-related illness are increasing. Research has shown that chronic venous disease may impact up to 80% of the population, with women more at risk than men.
You’re more likely to suffer from vein disease as you get older, and some of the biggest risk factors include sitting or standing for long periods of time and being overweight or obese. If you stand all day for work, you may benefit from wearing compression stockings. Let’s discuss what these stockings are and how they might help.
How Long-Term Standing Impacts Your Legs
Many people think that standing all day for work is better than sitting at a desk, but there are complications that can arise either way. The ideal work environment will allow you to transition between sitting and standing. That keeps the blood flow strong while standing and provides breaks so that your muscles don’t reach the point of exhaustion.
If you stand for five or more hours consecutively, your muscles start to experience fatigue. Some people can remain on their feet even longer every day with no problems, but others will eventually start to notice symptoms of potential health risks.
All of the following may result from work that requires you to remain on your feet for long periods:
Research has also shown that standing five hours or longer without the option to sit increases the risk of developing heart disease. That may come from strain on the veins or venous insufficiency, which prevents blood from returning to the heart efficiently. If your job doesn’t give you many options to sit even for a few minutes, you may experience fewer aches, pains, and health risks by wearing compression stockings or socks at work.
What are Compression Stockings?
Compression sleeves or socks squeeze the leg to promote healthy blood circulation through the leg. They apply gentle but consistent pressure that helps open the veins and assist with pumping blood back up to the heart. They come in a variety of forms, including the following:
All of these compression devices work the same, but you can choose the style that feels most comfortable while providing the right level of support for your tired legs.
Types of Compression Socks
Compression socks are differentiated by the amount of pressure applied to the leg. The following categories are used to rate socks:
We’ll talk in a moment about the right compression level for your tired, aching feet. For now, know that the results you get from compression stockings will depend on the fit of the stocking, the amount of pressure delivered, and the length of time that they’re worn each day.
Do Compression Socks Help People Who Stand All Day?
Compression socks can help people who stand to work all day. Excessive standing can compromise lower body circulation, and the stockings are designed to improve circulation. Enhanced blood flow from the heart into the legs can help keep the legs energized, balanced, and pain-free throughout a long day of work. It may also prevent the development of vein issues that cause more discomfort in the future.
Many people who wear compression socks while at work go much longer without feeling any fatigue, aches, or pain. Wearing compression stockings while recovering at home on your days off may help you overcome delayed soreness as well.
What Level of Compression Socks Do You Need for Standing All Day?
If you just have tired, aching feet from standing on concrete or working on your feet all day, you may benefit from a mild compression stocking. Mild compression creates the least amount of tension and should feel comfortable on your leg all day when properly sized. You can buy plus-size and wide-calf stockings if you have larger legs.
If you notice even a few varicose veins on your legs, you may want to upgrade to moderate compression stockings. They may feel a bit tighter but should still feel comfortable for at least a few hours out of each day. You’ll receive more help with blood flow in your legs and it may prevent future varicose veins or the development of more serious vein issues.
Firm compression stockings aren’t necessary for most people and are likely to be too uncomfortable for all-day wear at work. They’re often used by doctors to help with thrombotic syndrome, leg ulcers, and other serious medical conditions.
It’s important to properly size your compression stockings to deliver even pressure at all points of the leg. You can do that by measuring your ankle and calf when you first wake up in the morning. Read package instructions to find the right size for your leg.
How Long Should You Wear Compression Stockings to Improve Circulation?
You can wear compression stockings all day while at work or even when sitting for prolonged periods. Many people who stand for work all day put their compression stockings on first thing in the morning and take them off when returning home from work. If you remain on your feet in the evening, you may even keep them on until time for bed.
You don’t need to wear compression socks or stockings while sleeping or relaxing with your feet up. They do help when sitting in a chair for long periods, but you can also put your feet up to keep the blood flowing strongly between the ankle and heart.
If you find your compression stockings start feeling uncomfortable after a few hours, you may have the wrong size for your body. You should also double-check the compression level for your stockings. Firm compression can squeeze tightly and may feel far more uncomfortable than mild or moderate compression. For most people, firm compression is unnecessary to keep circulation strong while at work.
What are the Risks of Wearing Compression Stockings?
While compression stockings are helpful for most people, there are some medical conditions that can worsen when they’re worn. If you have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, arterial disease, phlebitis, or other conditions that impact your veins and circulation, you should consult with a doctor who knows your full medical history prior to wearing any type of compression stockings.
If you have any medical condition that may respond negatively to changes in lower body blood flow, play it safe and talk to your doctor before wearing any type of compression gear. Your doctor may also help you determine the right level of compression and size to ensure a proper fit for your compression stockings.