Do Compression Socks Really Work?

Perhaps you’ve been told that wearing compression clothing and socks can help with muscle recovery and healing injuries. Some athletes swear by the benefits of compression in improving performance. However, studies of athletes (especially runners) have shown conflicting results, making it hard to say whether or not compression socks really have all the said abilities.

What we do know is that compression socks and sleeves are helpful for treatment of foot, ankle, and leg edema. Compression gently squeezes the legs, assisting veins to return to normal. This allows for an increase in blood flow and with the blood, fluids travel away from the areas of compression.

While most people can take advantage of compression socks and sleeves, folks with specific conditions are more likely to benefit. Those with diabetes, jobs with long standing times (e.g. surgery), and frequent fliers can use compression to prevent or treat swelling in the lower legs. Injured athletes can also increase recovery to feet, ankles, or legs using compression therapy. Additionally, the American Heart Association Journal suggests wearing compression stockings for at least 2 years after a blood clot to prevent another.

So while compression socks may not improve or enhance performance during athletic activities, it is certainly useful for recovery and reducing soreness. Keep in mind that if the swelling and/or injury is located in the lower parts of the leg (ankle or feet), compression sleeves could result in fluids that are trapped below the compression portions. For the lower parts of the leg, compression socks or stockings are recommended, but if the injury is higher up, sleeves can suffice.

If you are concerned about swelling in your feet or ankles, compression socks may be helpful, but you should see a podiatrist to assess and diagnose the problem in case the symptoms are presenting for a more severe problem. Our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Carl Ingrassia, keeps up with the latest in podiatry issues and uses the latest technologies to diagnose and treat foot and ankle problem. Make an appointment with us at Fords Foot and Ankle Care to discuss any concerns you may have. We serve patients in Fords, NJ in Woodbridge Township.