With increasing stress in our day to day life, health issues are escalating at an enormous rate, such that, not only the elderly but the younger generations are being affected. From teenagers to early adults, they are facing muscular constrictions and venous disorders. Understanding how to handle such ailments is the first step towards recovery. Compression stockings are a simple cure for muscle contractions and pain. How to use them and get benefitted is the primary question!

What are Compression Stockings?

A pair of compression stockings are specially designed hosiery for compression therapy on muscles and for boosting blood flow. The purpose is to relieve pain, reduce swelling in the legs and prevent thrombosis, a type of blood clot that causes hindrance in circulation.

How do they benefit us?

The compression stockings are designed to provide pressure in the lower legs and reduce muscle constrictions and lymphatic disorders. This pressure helps alleviate varicose veins and lymphoedema, improve circulation and fight swelling and discomfort in the calf muscles. The gradual compression from the knee towards the ankle, makes it painless and comfy wear, even when you are on the move or lazing on the bed.

Understanding Strengths and Lengths

Compression stockings come in various strengths and lengths based on their purpose and application. The firmness of the socks with mild compression gently shelters your leg which should not be painful. The stockings’ pressure is measured in mmHg, that is, millimeters of Mercury. A different pressure gradient is prescribed for various purposes. When understanding lengths, they come in Knee-High, Thigh-High, and Waist-High variants.

Which length of stockings is recommended?

If the purpose is to promote blood circulation, prevent muscle ache and blood clot a Knee-High length is recommended. Waist-high ones provide the least amount of pressure on muscles, thus doing, not much of a job, and the Thigh-High range is more often recommended post leg surgeries. The Knee-High stockings are more comfortable, easy to wear and are highly recommended for reducing varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and venous ulcers.

What level of compression should be opted?

The most recommended level of pressure is 20-30 mmHg compression socks (termed as Class-I or firm compression). They offer a moderate compression and is suggested for treating a variety of mild to average conditions. This level focuses on providing relief from varicose veins, edema, and deep vein thrombosis. Compression socks for flying is an excellent choice for travelers on long haul flights. Pressure levels lower than this only provide mild support and energize legs. Compression stockings for men and women - 20-30 mmHg are easily available in a variety of colors and sizes.

The highest level of compression, which is 40-50 mmHg (termed as Class III) is only to be worn if prescribed by a doctor.

Are you wearing it right?

• Always choose the right size when buying a compression stocking. The wrong size is not enough and does more harm to the legs.

• Make sure to smoothly lay the stocking on the skin and flatten out any bumps or folds.

• When using best compression socks for swelling, avoid rolling them at the knee or scrunching them as this creates tight bands and may cut off blood circulation and result in sores.

• Unless prescribed, it’s best not to wear it at night. While lying down, our resting legs allows smooth blood flow, so adding extra pressure may be harmful; thus, this is not recommended.

• Do not use moisturizers or oils underneath the stockings; they tend to break down the fibers.

• These stockings are meant to cure us of our problems, so it is beneficial to wear them as soon as we wake up in the morning when our legs are least swollen.

Is it only for medical purposes?

Even though specifically designed for medical reasons, there is little or no harm in using one for general purposes. Other than people with circulatory problems or venous disorders, these stockings prove beneficial to people post-surgery, specifically related to legs. People for whom it’s a struggle to move their legs in the morning or face difficulty in walking, those who stand all day, athletes, pregnant women and people who spend a lot of time in flights can opt for compression stockings for relaxation of muscles, cramp reduction and so on.

Who is recommended not to wear compression stockings?

Only a patient with severe vascular disease should never wear a compression stocking. Otherwise, everybody else can wear them and be benefited.

What are the side effects of wearing compression stockings?

Compression stockings thigh high can only prove to be harmful if they get folded or wrinkled while wearing or when they are of the wrong size. Other than these, a person can face skin irritation, broken skin, discomfort or temporary depressions in the skin from prolonged wearing.

How to properly care for your stockings?

• As it is meant to be worn every day, it’s recommended to wash daily for both self-hygiene and longevity of the product.

• A gentle machine wash is recommended with cold water and mild soap.

• Avoid wringing the material to shed water, as it would damage the fibers. Instead, it is recommended to soak the excess water and hang them dry.

• Do not use chlorine bleach or fabric softeners on the stockings as it damages the compression level.

• When handling compression garments, a donning glove is suggested as it reduces the chances of tearing or scratching the stockings with a fingernail.

• Replace every 4-6 months as with the elastic fibers deteriorate and stop working for the purpose.

Compression therapy is not a new science; it has a prominent history, both in the western as wells as in the eastern civilization. There is a vast list of medicinal drugs that can relax muscles and reduce pain, but compression stockings do the same job devoid of any chemical composition and lesser side effects. For an effective cure, daily use is recommended.