Compression Socks 101: THE What and Why of Wearing Them in Daily Life

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It’s amazing how traveling across countries, and even continents, has become such an easy feat to accomplish. What used to be an almost impossible task of crossing seas and rough terrain can now be done via air travel or by traversing railways from one country to another. All of this in a span of a few hours, a definite improvement from the days or weeks of sea or land travel in the olden days.

The main disadvantage to traveling in modern times, however, is the fact that there is limited space to move about while in a train or a plane. You will be spending most of the time in a sitting position with little room to do more than getting a few stretches in. Sometimes, this poses a risk on a traveler’s health, particularly since movement gets the blood flowing. Restricting limb motion combined with the pull of gravity may affect blood flow, potentially causing the formation of blood clots.

wear sock in travel

Now, this problem can be addressed with the use of compression socks during long travel (with travel time spanning three hours or more), and it is medically recommended to prevent blood clotting due to restricted movement. Here we will cover all the basic questions you might have regarding compression socks, and why you absolutely need to own a pair.

SHOULD YOU WEAR COMPRESSION SOCKS ON YOUR TRAVEL?

Gravity keeps us on the ground, and it’s also responsible for pulling blood down towards the extremities. Traveling challenges the body’s circulatory system by making it harder to bring that blood back for re-oxygenation towards the heart. Also, traveling while taking prescription medication like painkillers can contribute to clotting.

couples wear sock in camping

Wearing compression socks solves this issue, helping the body fight back against gravity to facilitate good blood flow. The compression sock is made of stretchable fabric that fits snugly to your legs and feet, putting pressure on peripheral arteries and veins that keeps blood flowing normally.

Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks During Flights or Train Rides

  • Prevents Formation of Blood Clot. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious medical condition that forms blood clots in deep veins, usually that of the legs. The compression socks help prevent this by pressuring the lower leg arteries while tapering off the constriction as it goes upward to facilitate blood flow.
  • Avoids Pooling of Venous Blood in the Legs. Sitting for hours can make blood pool downwards which may cause fatigue, aches and swelling. Compression socks can eliminate these problems by allowing blood to circulate regularly, preventing venous blood from getting stuck on the legs.
  • Lessens Leg Swelling. Lymph is a body fluid that is found in body tissues and should move freely around the body so as not to suffer from any swelling. Lymph flow is improved by compression socks, decreasing swelling on the legs.
  • Warmer feet. While the main feature of compressions socks is the tapered pressure it applies on the legs, a pair can also insulate your feet from the cold while traveling. Restricting movement affects blood circulation, and this in turn decreases oxygen flow on the legs and feet. Poorly oxygenated blood can make the body temperature dip a bit, so compression socks are useful in keeping body temperature at normal levels, too.

person wear compression sock near mountain

Should You Wear It During Travel?

Now that we have established the benefits of wearing compression socks while traveling, we can definitely say that yes, it is highly recommended to wear a pair to be prepared for a long flight or train ride ahead. These used to be prescribed by a doctor, but you can now purchase without a prescription in medical supply stores or your local pharmacy.

Compression socks prevent your blood from stagnating, generally keeping your circulation healthy even if you are sitting down for long periods of time.

multi color socks hang on chair

How Do You Choose Compression Socks Fit For Traveling?

Compression socks are tighter than regular socks, but as far as sizing goes, a universal standard is hard to achieve. The key is to get your measurements ready before purchasing a pair. Some of the parameters you have to keep in mind are the circumference of your calf, thigh and ankle, and also the distance between your thigh (or knee for knee-highs) and the floor.

Determining what length is good for you entails evaluation of why you want to wear compression socks. Are you wearing it for a medical condition (DVT, inflammation), or is it for a non-medical reason? If it’s simply to prevent any leg problem during long travel, then it would be best to start with knee-highs. If you have an existing condition, ask your medical provider about the best fitting compression socks for you.

Compression rating is also a marker when deciding what to buy. Compression stockings have different levels of compression measured in mmHg, the same parameter in measuring blood pressure. Moderate compression of 15-20 mmHg is recommended to prevent DVT and alleviate leg swelling. Higher grade socks on the other hand are prescribed by doctors for medical conditions.

Quick Tips When Traveling

  • Give your legs plenty of room to stretch by putting your bags on overhead compartments instead of on the ground.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, because these also facilitate good blood flow.
  • Stay away from salty foods because they contribute to the retention of water, causing leg swelling.
  • Do small exercises and take short walks while on board, if deemed safe.
  • Hydrate as much as possible. Traveling can cause dehydration, which also contributes to blood clot formation.

person sleep in bed

THE RIGHT WAY TO WEAR COMPRESSION SOCKS WHILE SLEEPING

Compression socks are a must-have during travel, but did you know that they can also be worn to sleep? If you are suffering from serious health issues like sleep apnea or if you are post-surgery, you can wear compression socks during the night. However, if you are generally healthy, lay off these types of socks and use regular ones instead.

Benefits of sleeping with socks on

  • No cold feet. Studies show that the cold can cause restless sleep because it constricts blood vessels and prevents blood from flowing regularly, also affecting proper blood oxygenation. Wearing socks while sleeping can keep the cold at bay.
  • Alleviate cracked heels. Socks keep moisture into the feet, preventing the sole to dry up and crack, causing painful and itchy heels.
  • Avoid hot flashes. Women may experience hot flashes during night time, and socks can help prevent this by cooling the core temperature of the body.

person wear socks and read on bed

Is it Safe to Wear Compression Socks to Sleep?

Regular socks provide comfort for the healthy person while sleeping, but for someone with an existing medical condition, compression stockings are better and often prescribed by a physician. For people suffering from Sleep Apnea, a sleeping disorder that causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly, compression socks can help them sleep better.

Fluid shifts in the body can cause sleep apnea. The Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA happens when there is an increase in the soft tissues of the neck, blocking airways and stopping breathing repeatedly. The compression socks help alleviate this by easing up the circulation of blood in the body, preventing swelling to happen on the neck.

The right way to wear compression stockings while sleeping would be to follow the prescribed compression rating given by the healthcare practitioner.  These are usually low-grade compression stockings, enough to address the issue at hand.

WHAT COMPRESSION SOCKS DO WE RECOMMEND?

You have plenty of choices in the market, but here are some highly recommended compression socks that are adored by many:

  • Nikkiaz Compression Socks. What we love about this product is their attention to detail and therapeutic comfort that their compression socks offer. Best of all, they are fit for everyday use! The Nikkiaz compression socks improve blood circulation and reduce varicose veins, alleviating pain from plantar fasciitis. The Nikkiaz compression stockings are great for people who travel for long hours regularly, people with sedentary jobs or lifestyle and totally safe for pregnant women. Best of all, that is the most affordable price I never bought it before.

nikkiaz compression socks

  • CEP Progressive + Compression Run Socks 2.0. This brand is great for runners because these are made from excellent materials that provide comfort and support while on the move. However, these are more expensive than other compression stockings in the market.

cep run socks

  • Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks.Sockwell compression socks are made to be light but not thin, and stay up to give a four-level compression graduation from ankles to below the knees. These only come in two sizes, though, and are reported to warp over time.

Sockwell compression socks

  • Vim & Vigr. This brand offers a stylish option for compressions socks, providing aesthetically unique designs equipped with moderate to firm levels of compression. However, these cost more than the average compression socks.

Vim & Vigr

Out of all the options, we think the best compression socks are those that have the perfect balance between comfort and high-performing compression that prevents swelling and blood clotting while travelling. You should also choose the pair that provides support and can stay up as long as needed. These medically recommended accessories should both be effective and comfortable to wear, so it does not have to be one or the other.

Finally, Health risks such as DVT or leg swelling should not be a hindrance to long distance travel. Using compression socks that are medically recommended, and if possible, prescribed by your doctor, goes a long way to ensure that you are protected from such a dilemma. Getting a good and trusty pair of compression stockings will make your travel all the more worthwhile.


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