Every wonder what it’s like to wear compression socks? You know: what they do – how they fit – are they comfortable to wear – do they actually work?
For a while, I’d been reading about how nurses and people who work on their feet like servers, construction workers, etc. wear compression socks to help reduce pain and swelling caused from spending so much time on their feet.
If you’re a healthcare professional and shopping for the best compression socks for nurses. – you can look here.
So I did a little more research.
I knew that people wore compression socks for foot and leg problems. I’d even heard that travelers wear them on long flights. And as mentioned above, people who spend a lot of time on their feet wear them. But I found out that plenty more people wear them.
Like athletes. Women who are pregnant wear them. Sometimes people just wear them every day for comfort and to keep their feet and legs healthy.
I wanted to test it for myself, so I decided to buy a pair of compression socks and wear them for one week to see if they really did anything.
They do – and I actually noticed three pretty amazing benefits of compression socks both during and at the end of the week.
Full Disclosure Here:
Full Disclosure: I’m not a nurse, construction worker, or server. I don’t work on my feet – in fact, I spend most of my time in front of a computer.
I wondered if this wouldn’t make me a poor candidate to give compression socks a test, but I had a few things that compression socks might be good for:
- I sit at a desk for extended periods – sometimes causing my legs to throb
- I exercise 3 – 4 times a week, ranging from medium to heavy HIIT, cardio, and kettlebell training – so I’m active, that would be good for testing if compression socks improve athletic performance
- A couple of times a week I go on a 3 – 4-mile walk, which would be good for testing how much compression socks help with being on your feet and walking
So even though I wasn’t going to be doing any extreme testing like a 14-hour nursing shift, I could probably still do enough to gauge whether or not compression socks actually did anything. I think I already said that they do.
And here’s what wearing compression socks did for me:
Three Amazing Things I Noticed Wearing Compression Socks For One Week
Ok – yes the word amazing is overused. But, the three things I noticed from wearing compression socks, were more of quiet amazement. Like something sneaking up on you before you notice it and when it does, you’re surprised – amazed even – at this new development.
In fact, I realized that men should be wearing compression socks, too, and below you’ll see why.
First, I decided to get the most-commonly worn style and strength of compression socks, which are:
- 15 – 20 mmHg compression
Extra: Did you know that there are compression socks with cute and colorful designs too? Yes, you can showcase those compression socks on top of the amazing benefits you get from it.
The 15 – 20 mmHg compression is considered to be the “sweet spot” and the best for general, overall use covering everything from simple everyday wear to work and athletics.
I won’t say the brand – I’m not here plugging them, but one thing you notice when you take them out the first time is how narrow they are and how strong the elastic bands are.
Like really strong. They say it can be difficult to put compression socks on sometimes and that you should give them a little stretch before you put them on. So I gave them a little stretch, rolled them down to put them on, and then rolled them up and got them situated.
They felt pretty tight in a way that was very noticeable at first. This was the morning of Day 1 – a Monday. I’d decided to wear them from when I got up, to when I went to bed or about 15 hours.
Even though you can wear compression socks while you sleep (in fact some doctors recommend it) I wasn’t going to do that.
I put them on, walked around to get the feel, then got ready to do my morning workout. After my workout (and a shower) I put on a clean pair of compression socks (thanks to an 8-pack) and went to my office to start working, giving a quick thought as to how the socks performed during my workout. And then I forgot about them.
The rest of the day, I only felt the compression when I was actively thinking about them, but it easily faded into the background. At night, I took the compression socks off.
My legs felt kind of strange and prickly – you know the feeling when you’ve been wearing a tight piece of clothing for a long time. But it was confined mostly the skin on my feet and legs, nothing more.
This is pretty much how my week went – just add in two 4-mile walks and my regular workouts. But at three times during the week and then at the end, I noticed three distinct things were different since I started wearing the compression socks:
Thing #1 – No More Throbbing
I mentioned earlier that I sit at a desk pretty much all day. Now my office chair is decent, with lumbar support and all that. However, after about two or three hours of working – even with short periodic breaks – my legs around my knees and calves will throb a little.
After the second day of wearing them (Tuesday), I noticed near the end of the day that my legs weren’t throbbing. Not once had I leaned by in my chair to prop my feet up on the wall for a quick rest.
Well, compression socks do increase circulation in your feet and lower legs, maybe that was helping with the throbbing.
Thing #2 – Better Performance
I have a bit of a goofy walk, with my feet rolling to the outside (supination) and generally being a bit clumsy. After I work out, my feet and ankles can feel a little sore. When I go on long walks, my feet often hurt and when I get home, my calf muscles will twitch for a good 30 minutes as I cool down.
And with compression socks? I don’t know if they actually improved my athletic performance, but I did feel like my ankles and feet had more support.
The amazing thing? When I got home after my first 4-mile walk – my legs weren’t twitching. At all. In fact, they felt pretty good.
Thing #3 – No More Cold Feet
This realization was the one that was actually amazing because I’d never even realized that my feet were cold. Sure, I go barefoot a lot in the house and my feet might feel a little cool – but man, after wearing compression socks. . .I noticed warmth.
Not heat, as in sweltering like wearing heavy wool socks – no my feet just felt warm and comfortable not hot and sweaty. Again, the increased blood flow from the compression socks here.
So my overall impression from this little experiment?
Compression socks work. They’re comfortable. And they’re great, not just for people who work on their feet, athletes, people with health conditions and pregnant mothers – even regular, everyday office workers with a fairly active lifestyle can benefit from wearing compression socks too.
And by the way – I’m still wearing them.