There's a lot about the modern world that can be pointed to as its defining characteristics, but the sheer pace of it has to be up there with the best of them. We're on our feet more than ever, despite the increased ease with which we can access the world from the comfort of our beds and couches. People make time to work out, and consciously choose the more walking-intensive options for getting around, to, and from work, because of greater concern for their health. People have shifted to taking on more active lifestyles, and certainly for the better.
Benefits of Compression Socks
Not everyone is an athlete, of course, but even the "regular people" portion of the population has a lot of physical activity that keeps them moving. In this respect, things haven't changed much from the past, as we still need to use our getaway sticks to get from place to place, even within our homes. Our legs and feet do a lot of work for us from day to day, as we sit, stand, walk, jump, climb, and otherwise move. We don't often consider how much work these are put through until something goes wrong, and we don't often think about how best to care for the complex systems of our legs and feet -- through simple choices like wearing the right footwear and using compression socks.
EVERYDAY TIRED FEET?
What is involved in the movement of the legs and feet? Our lower body does a lot of work, and an ingenious system is in place to do it. The upper body does a lot of literal lifting (what with having the arms and hands to do it), but so does the lower -- as anyone who's ever heard "lift with your legs, not with your (lower) back" knows.
Much of the work can be traced to the joints, as the knees and ankles take up a lot of the stress involved in movement. The knees flex to raise, lower, carry, direct, and move the upper body. We jump and our knees flex to distribute the force of landing, we take steps and climb up and downstairs and the knees direct the movement of the body. The ankles, on the other hand, work in tandem with the knees to keep us balanced and position our feet properly -- and other parts like the calcaneus and phalanges more precisely calibrate these movements.
LET YOUR LEG REST
Again, we don't always think about what could go wrong with this surprisingly involved system until it's already happening. One could say it's one of those "you don't miss it until it's not there" things. Whether from usual movement or through the amplified amount involved in exercise, the potential for overuse and injury is present.
Of course, one would be wrong to assume that skipping sports and exercise keeps one entirely safe from these injuries. While overuse injuries are common in athletic movement -- the reason they're named after tennis, golf, and so on -- the word "overuse" is key. Repeated movement or use of the muscles can result in these maladies whether they're on the tennis court or in the stockroom lifting and setting down boxes. And when they happen, they happen: mobility is reduced, as the range of movement is hampered to varying extents by inflammation, and pain in varying degrees of intensity is a very real possibility.
Even a lack of movement carries some risk: jobs or tasks that require sitting or standing for long periods, such as working the sales counter or taking a long drive or flight, can result in issues with limited effectiveness in blood circulation. The slowed circulation can result in deep vein thrombosis, which happens when blood pools in the veins as a result of inadequate force or momentum moving the blood. Such a situation can also affect existing injuries by depriving muscles of needed oxygenated blood.
COMPRESSION SOCKS FIGHTING INFLAMMATION
How can compression wear help this situation then? While there are other means to help support the circulation matters and bring down inflammation -- such as eating anti-inflammatory foods, and using cold packs to bring down the pain and swelling -- compression is one of the more effective ways to do so.
Compression has always been popular for its inflammation-fighting benefits, even before the modern boom of compression wear. Doctors have long prescribed compression stockings for fighting inflammation and ailments like varicose veins, and now compression socks have taken that into a new phase of popularity. The tight, snug fit ensured by the compression socks results in a constant and steady pressure that encourages proper blood flow. This results in oxygenated blood coming to the muscles at a regular rate, helping recovery.
This is where compression wear comes in.
Compression has always been popular for fighting inflammation, and with good reason. Inflammation contributes to impairing blood flow, because the swollen muscles cause problems for the pathways of proper circulation. The snug fit brought by compression keeps a steady pressure on the muscles, encouraging the flow of blood to move properly and efficiently, allowing oxygenated blood to flow at a more regular rate that helps recovery along. While compression socks don't reverse varicose veins, they can keep them from getting worse, as the compression helps battle the poor circulation that causes it.