If you have reached the age you have a mature perspective on life, chances are you remember a time when compression socks and compression tights were ugly, bulky, brown, bandage-like garments that a few older women had to wear for varicose veins.
Then about 20 years ago we all started hearing about women’s compression socks for travel and then men’s compression socks for travel. The public was beginning to become aware of the real danger of deep vein thrombosis, DVT, on long air flights when travelers in economy weren’t able to get up and move around. And a category we might call “traveling while pregnant compression socks” popped up to ensure the safety of pregnant women who took long air flights or who were unable to get up and move around enough to maintain good venous circulation with the help of the best compression socks for pregnancy travel.
Nowadays compression socks aren’t just for travel anymore. And they aren’t just for seniors anymore. While it’s still important to choose the best travel compression socks for women and the best travel compression socks for men, compression stocks are more comfortable, come in more styles, and offer more levels of compression than ever before. The best women’s compression socks for travel and the best men’s compression socks for travel can do double duty as everyday wear that helps you feel better every day. But how to you find them?
Compression socks work by putting gentle pressure on the skin at just the right points on your legs to make veins narrower so they have more pressure to keep blood circulating up to your heart.
Usually the problem area, or the area of potential improvement, is circulation to the calf muscle. It is not unusual for older people to have circulatory issues that reduce circulation to the calf. It can ‘plop’ along. The result is it becomes difficult to lift your foot to walk, much less run.
But even people who don’t have venous insufficiency or varicose veins or other venous disease can benefit from added circulation to the calf muscle. Numerous studies have found that wearing low-pressure compression socks (10 to 20 mm/Hg) increases balance and speed, even in people who are in great shape. Your teenaged grandchildren who play soccer or tennis can benefit from wearing compression socks, and even if you don’t have vein problems, so can you.
A compression garment at least needs to come up over the calf. Compression socks will stretch up to the knee. If you want to prevent DVT or swelling—compression socks can help you keep gorgeous gams—you need compression socks. Thigh-highs offer even more support for healthy venous circulation and greater protection from DVTs. The best compression socks for pregnancy are often thigh-highs.
Compression garments come as ankle-length, knee-hi, thigh-hi, and athletic socks for both sexes. There are also leggings, pantyhose, and maternity pantyhose for women.
There is a number associated with every compression garment. That 8-15mmhg (Light Support), 15-20mmhg (Medium Support), 20-30mmhg (Firm Support), 30-40mmhg (Extra Firm Support) as referenced on the sock is millimeters of mercury, or mm/Hg, the everyday unit of measurement for blood pressure. The pressure rating for your compression garment tells you how much added pressure is available to help blood flow back up to your heart through the veins in your legs.
If your doctor tells you need a specific level of compression, say, 40 mm/Hg, then that is the level of compression you need to look for. But if you don’t have venous disease, or some other risk factor for DVTs, then you may benefit from much lower compression, just not as much. (Women whose bodies are producing more estrogen, for example, in pregnancy, and women on estrogen replacement therapy need to check out their options in the best travel compression socks for women. The best men’s compression socks for travel are usually relatively low pressure of 8 to 15 mm/Hg—because those are the socks men will wear rather than keep in the drawer.)
Compression socks come in bariatric sizes for extra-wide calves. You can find compression socks at Discount Surgical in all smaller sizes and also sizes 2XL to 6XL.
There are also compression sleeves in various pressures for your arms. These may be useful in lymphedema (ask your doctor) and for enhancement of athletic abilities. You don’t need them for travel, however.
Compression socks are definitely not a case of one size fits all. You need to buy your compression socks from a retailer that carries a big enough selection that you can match your foot size, height, ankle circumference, and calf circumference with an online fit finder tool. Don’t guess at your size. Let the fit finder find your best fit.
The best travel compression socks for women and the best men’s travel compression socks always have a reinforced heel for greater stability. When you are just getting used to wearing compression socks, you have to learn to line up your sock with your heel so you don’t try to pull it over the top of your foot, but once you get the hang of wearing compression socks with a reinforced heel, you will feel the difference all day long.
The best compression socks match your toes, too. Look for socks that have a reinforced toe. The socks will last longer and they will give you greater balance and agility. Many long-time wearers of compression socks find that they are less likely to fall when they wear compression socks with reinforced toes.
Look for a contoured design. Your feet aren’t boxes, and your compression socks shouldn’t be shaped like boxes. The best compression socks have been engineered to fit the curve of your feet.
And look for moisture-wicking fabric. Moisture-wicking fabric keeps your legs warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather. Particularly if you have venous insufficiency, you will come to value this feature.
Discount Surgical carries compression socks for reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis and for supporting the treatment of chronic vein insufficiency, varicose veins, ulcers, edema, and lymphedema. They have compression socks for supporting recovery from surgery, stabilizing weak muscles, preventing venous return issues in people who have to sit or stand for hours and a time, and for optimizing sports performance.
Discount Surgical doesn’t carry the most expensive compression socks, but it offers the best compression socks, engineered for your comfort and support. And because we have been in the business of compression socks for 22 years, we are here to help you find the best compression socks for both men and women.