Though originally used for medical purposes, compression socks have become many people’s go-to socks for a wide variety of situations, from sports to simple everyday activities. But before you buy and start wearing your very own pair, it’s good to know which situations they work best in.
After all, you’ll want to make sure you’re using them correctly and at the right time so that you can fully enjoy their advantages.
The Best Times to Wear Compression Socks
Generally, compression socks are safe to wear daily. They’re typically made out of light, stretchy, moisture-wicking, and breathable fabric, making these socks extremely comfortable in most everyday situations. In fact, some reputable brands offer compression socks with supportive arch clinches and heel cushions for extra foot support.
That said, you can choose to wear compression socks for most of the day or only on certain occasions, depending on your needs and preferences. To give you a better idea of how often and how long you may want to wear them, below are some situations where you may benefit from using these specialized socks:
During and After Exercise
Many athletes and hikers often wear performance socks during their physical activities, as they’re said to improve endurance and promote quicker recovery. As mentioned in the previous section, the socks apply gentle pressure to the legs to encourage more efficient blood flow, meaning that oxygenated blood is delivered to the muscles more quickly. Typically, the faster oxygen is delivered to muscle cells, the greater the athletic endurance.
Better blood flow also means quicker removal of lactic acid in the bloodstream. Lactic acid is a substance that’s responsible for cramps and muscle fatigue that often occurs after physical exertion. It usually builds up when muscles don’t have enough oxygen to break it down. Hence, wearing compression socks can speed up your recovery process by increasing the flow of oxygenated blood. This prevents you from feeling discomfort or soreness post-workout.
On that note, it’s recommended that you wear your compression socks three to four hours after exercise for better recovery—assuming you’re not already wearing them while exercising.
During a Long Flight
If you frequently go on flights, it helps to wear compression socks whenever you’re in transit. Plane rides often require you to sit for long periods, which can cause blood and other fluids to pool in your lower legs. As a result, swelling and blood clots may occur. Without proper intervention, these complications can lead to more serious health conditions like deep vein thrombosis. Wearing compression socks will not only encourage better blood circulation during flights, but also help your legs fight off fatigue.
Related: Cool Facts About The O’Hare Airport
If your job requires you to sit or stand for long periods, then wearing compression socks to work can be very beneficial.
For example, if you’re working remotely, you may be sitting in front of a computer screen for hours at a time. Similar to what can happen during lengthy flights, blood clots and leg swelling may occur during prolonged periods of sitting. By wearing compression socks, you can work all day without discomfort. However, do be sure to still do regular stretches, as compression socks can only do so much to alleviate or prevent leg pain on their own.
Additionally, standing for long hours can be just as harmful as sitting. Studies have found that professionals who work at jobs that require them to be on their feet—such as chefs, machine operators, and sales clerks—are more likely to experience heart disease. Much like prolonged sitting, excessive standing can cause blood to pool around the legs. A standing position also has a stronger gravitational pull, which may stress the veins as they try to pump blood back to the heart. Luckily, the gentle squeeze provided by compression socks can ease this stress by increasing blood flow in the legs.
When to Not Wear Compression Socks
Even if compression socks can be worn every day, do avoid wearing them to bed. These socks can roll down or get bunched up while you sleep, causing a tourniquet effect that closes off blood circulation.
Additionally, most people don’t have to wear compression socks while sleeping. Lying down immediately facilitates regular blood flow since your veins don’t need any extra help to pump blood while fighting against gravity. The benefits of compression socks are more apparent when you’re standing or sitting during daily activities, as gravity’s pull is much stronger on the veins when you’re in those positions.
If you have pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, and ischemia, it’s always best to consult a doctor before wearing compression socks, as the added pressure may end up exacerbating your symptoms.
Whether you want to relax during a long flight, stay energized during work, or prevent muscle aches post-workout, there’s a lot to gain from wearing compression socks. Because of their ability to improve blood flow in the legs, they can provide you with all-day comfort. Though seemingly small, using these socks at the right times can do a lot to help you achieve a healthier life.