Make Your Feet Strong and Flexible with Cotton Compression Socks
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Living an active lifestyle is a core part of living in the world today. If you're content with staying on the sidelines, you might be better off in another decade, as people have truly come to embrace the idea of making room in their lives for increased physical activity, even through something as seemingly simple and mundane as walking a bit every day.
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, walking for a bit rather than opting to take the bus or train, or simply parking as a bit further from the office than usual to get you moving more. You do an astonishing amount of walking in a day, from getting around the house to getting to your preferred means of transport, to getting around at work.
As you can see, you don't even have to be particularly athletic to need flexible and strong feet and joints. If you are, though, you can imagine your needs being ratcheted up even further -- speed and endurance, enhancing your flexibility and mobility, are the name of the game. Our lower bodies carry a lot of weight, literally, and figuratively, as we put a lot of pressure on the legs and ankles to manage how our upper body moves.
Our knees flex and straighten to raise and lower our bodies, distributing our weight evenly as we take steps, climb stairs, jump and land, and so on. They're not alone either, as our ankles play a significant role in getting us to move. The ankles work with the toes or phalanges and heel or calcaneus to balance us on the ground, moving in small parts to keep us steady and move us forward, up, down, or back. You'd be surprised at how often we take these important body parts for granted, usually not even bothering to dress them properly.
The Wrong Stuff
If that sounds silly to you, consider that our footwear often actually puts our feet in an unfortunate, literal, position. Dress shoes that often get worn for key occasions have a heel lift, which creates a situation that puts pressure on the rest of the foot. A rise of any angle can have significant effects, especially cumulative ones that stack up when these shoes are worn often. Over time, the structure of the foot can subtly or greatly change, affecting our ability to walk, run, or even stand. Something to think about. Even runners sometimes make the wrong choices in picking up shoes that don't give them adequate support.
What can go wrong? If you're feeling tightness or soreness in your calves and ankles, that's likely because of weak foot muscles or ones with weak support. As bad as that sounds, it can get worse: collapsed arches are quite painful and troublesome results of low mobility in the mid-foot area. The pain starts manageable, but can get worse and can eventually badly impede mobility.
Help Your Feet
One common remedy for building up our feet against such problems is stretching, which can align and loosen up muscle groups. This increases their flexibility and thus broadens their range of movement, which is why exercise warm-ups always include it. Without stretching, you run the risk of knotted muscles, shin splints, and sprains. So whether you're going to work out or just walk, or simply go about your day, take a few minutes to stretch out your joints and muscles.
Why Cotton Compression Socks Are Important
It's really important to treat our feet right, and the good news is that we can start with socks, which are often far less expensive than shoes and much easier to get right. Here's one interesting area where compression socks can play a role.
Compression is generally understood to be good for the muscles, as pressing snugly on the muscles enclosed can help stimulate and direct blood flow. Compression socks, in particular, are designed with graduated compression that presses more tightly on the lower leg and loosens up slightly going upward, allowing for better circulation. The cotton/spandex/nylon blend of cotton compression socks binds the muscles together comfortably, allowing for better comfort and ease of movement across a wide range.
Compression socks have been studied for years, and continue to be examined to determine the extent of their medical benefits. However, users swear by the way they provide a healthy layer of protection for the leg, and go over and above what regular socks offer: the snugness is way more than regular socks can provide thanks to the unique material blend, while still offering breathable comfort that for brands like SocksLane is even allergy-free thanks to the hypoallergenic fabrics used. Combed cotton is very popular for this purpose, which is why it tends to be blended with the compression-providing nylon and spandex.
Picking an adequate level of compression strength (measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg) for you is key, as the right level will prevent problems like deep vein thrombosis and other blood-pooling issues while helping the muscles and joints like your ankles keep well-circulated. Mild compression can already be quite helpful as it is known to prevent or slow the onset of fatigue, while moderate compression takes it a step further by providing relief from spider veins and related problems. Stronger degrees of compression are available as well, but whichever you decide to find socks for, remember it's always a good idea to run these decisions by your doctor.