Benefits of wearing compression socks?
To answer this question, we must know the mechanism of our veins and how compression socks can help improve blood circulation, lymph drainage, and reduce risk of thromboembolism (i.e. blood clots).
How do our leg veins work?
Our leg muscles and organs need oxygenated blood and nutrients provided by our blood vessels. This is a closed circuit which have a specific volume and flow of blood. This is why proper blood circulation is so important. Arteries carry oxygenated blood to our organs and tissues and veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs.
Our leg veins are special due to having one-way valves to help circulate and push blood up towards the body and back to the heart. This is to counteract the effects of gravity. Therefore, not all veins have these unique valves, such as those in the arms where these special valves cease to exist. These valves ensure that blood is brought back up to the heart properly by directing the flow of blood one way, up. However, these one-way valves due to the pressure of gravity pushing downwards over time can age and malfunction to cause venous re-flux causing stasis of blood in veins. In more simple terms, this means due to gravity, sometimes the back flow of blood remains in the veins below the leg valve and don’t get circulated up as well back towards the heart and lungs where it can get oxygen and nutrients again. It gets stuck because of the malfunctioning aged valves in the leg veins. This extra trapped blood in the veins can lead to venous hypertension and pooling of blood. This stasis of deoxygenated blood makes the feet feel heavier due to the swelling and increased pressure. As well as potentially cause pain, edema, inflammation, deep vein thrombosis and skin changes that can lead to ulcers. Now we know the mechanism of the veins, we can dive into how compression socks function and thus how they can help our veins.