The blood in your legs has to contend with gravity to make its return trip to your heart. If your veins are not working efficiently, against gravity, they can allow blood and fluid to collect in your legs, causing swelling, fatigue, and pain. Compression hosiery works to help the veins of your lower legs return blood to your heart more efficiently.
Compression hosiery helps this process because it provides graduated compression throughout the length of the sock or stocking. The least amount of compression is at the top of the stocking and it gradually increases down the stocking until reaching the ankle. This controlled difference of pressures helps the veins in your legs to work more efficiently. When the leg is compressed blood moves from the smaller surface veins to the deeper, stronger veins to prevent pooling. Also the range of compression mimics the natural pressure that muscles exert on veins to force blood back to the heart.
Compression stockings have different grades of compression in order to provide support for a wide range of problems caused by poor circulation. The amount of compression is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Ask your doctor what grade of compression stocking you should wear in order to make sure you purchase those that will provide the support you need without causing discomfort.
How to Use and Care for Compression Stockings
Once you find a compression grade that meets your needs it is important to wear them properly. To provide the best relief you should wear your stockings all day. You should put on your stockings in the morning because this is when your legs will be the least swollen. It is also important to make sure that your stockings do not roll down or bunch, specifically around the knee. Tight areas will not only be uncomfortable but will reduce the benefits of wearing the stockings because blood can get trapped in these areas.
You do not want to pull your stockings all the way up your leg from the top. Instead you will want to reach into them until you feel the foot portion and then turn them inside out. From there you can gently put your foot into the stocking and ease the rest of the stocking up your leg, making sure that there are no uncomfortable wrinkles in the fabric.
How you care for your stockings can also affect how supportive your stockings can be. They need to be hand washed and air dried so that the oils in your skin don’t break down the elastic component of the stockings. You should also make a habit of examining your stockings frequently. Runs and tears in the fabric decrease the amount of pressure that the stockings can provide.
Compression stockings come in many different lengths, styles, and colors. Knee length stockings are perhaps the most popular because they provide relief and without any uncomfortable bunching behind the knee. Thigh high stockings are a good option for wearing under skirts for more formal occasions. All of these options will provide the relief that your achy legs need.