Compression socks have been around for a really long time. We typically see them on runners and other athletes, but did you know that compression socks can be beneficial for seniors too?
The primary reason for wearing compression socks is to increase the circulation, allowing blood to flow easily from the legs and feet back to the heart.
As we get older, our body produces less collagen leading to our veins becoming brittle. This leads to common medical issues such as varicose veins, where blood pools and veins stretch. This causes the blood to have a more difficult time moving through the body. Slower moving blood makes for poor circulation. This is where compression socks come in handy!
How Does Compression Improve Circulation?
When there is compression placed on the legs it works to reduce the width of stretched-out veins, allowing them to return to their initial shape. These veins moving back to their original shape can improve the function of the valves.
One main benefit of gradient compression socks is that the gradient technology on compression socks applies increased pressure at the ankle and pressure decreases moving up the leg. This works because as the blood moves towards the heart, the effects of gravity aren't as necessary. Support is focused where the pressure is needed the most.
The Removal of Lactic Acid
Compression socks increase the pressure on the legs, which in turn increases blood flow. Blood flow increases the muscle's supply of oxygen and reduces lactic acid.
Lactic acid builds up when cells respirate as the body's way of producing energy, and it builds up due to muscles being overworked. This creates the "sore" feeling that we all know too well. Not only is it painful, but it inhibits muscle function and happens more frequently as we age, as muscle mass tends to decrease. Increasing oxygen in the areas where lactic acid builds up in very important.
Compression for Prevention of Blood Clots
As we age, we tend to sit more than when we are younger. Sitting for extended periods of time contributes to blood clots. When the blood doesn't flow correctly, it can build and cause problems. Comression socks can help to fight this issue by promoting constant and consistent blood flow throughout the extremities.
Elderly adults are at an increased risk for blood clots as circulation decreases throughout the body with age. In addition, seniors who have surgery, suffer from obesity, or have a family history of blood clots should consider wearing compression socks to be proactive in fighting them.
Compression for Treating Varicose Veins
Varicose veins also come along with age. They can be painful and cause discomfort, but can also be unattractive. In addition, when you are on your feet for extended periods, the blood starts to settle and pool around the ankles and feet, and the build-up of fluid causes swelling and pain, resulting in embarrassing spider veins.
Wearing compression socks helps direct the blood flow upward so it doesn’t pool around the ankle and cause those spider veins to develop.
What Kind of Compression Socks Work Best?
Compression socks apply different degrees of compression, so it's important to pay attention to the various guides. It also might be a good idea to speak to your doctor for recommendations on specific socks, especially if you are buying them for a medical condition like blood clots or varicose veins.
Compression socks are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), a pressure measurement. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of compression sizes you will find:
15 to 20 mmHg
These are perfect for daily wear and travel so you can be comfortable in them for long periods. However, this compression level may not be tight enough if you are treating a medical condition or in medical recovery.
20 to 30 mmHg
This level of compression is ideal for helping with conditions like mild edema or spider veins. This is also the level that doctors recommend for improving circulation after surgery. If you have to be bed-ridden for a time, you should consider getting this pressure size to help you keep the blood flowing through your legs and feet.
30 to 40 mmHg
These are the more substantial level of compression socks, and they may even be labeled as “prescription” socks where you will need a doctor’s script to obtain them. Severe swelling in the legs and post-surgery issues will require this compression level. In addition, if you suffer from other severe symptoms with your legs, including restless leg syndrome or blood clots, check with a doctor about getting this level of compression socks.
Some compression socks are labeled a little differently, with “Class I” or “Class II” Roman Numerals—the higher the number, the greater the compression. For example, a Class IV can be as high as 50 to 60 mmHg at the ankle. Talk to your doctor about specific pressure levels to ensure that you are getting the right compression socks to suit your needs.
Why Should Seniors Wear Compression Socks?
Compression socks also provide benefits to help seniors stay active as they age. With age, the amount of tiredness in the legs and feet will happen more frequently, and older bodies aren’t as equipped to fight these problems. Seniors may also be required to start using walkers and canes and may not walk as much. Because of this, compression socks can add a high level of comfort and pain relief. In addition, they will normalize a more natural blood flow, fight cold feed, reduce swelling and tingling, and have the added benefits of revitalizing your skin tissue for better movement.
For senior citizens who need assistance with blood circulation in their lower extremities, have certain chronic health issues, or feel that their legs and feet are constantly tired, compression socks may be the answer.
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