In Canada, 40-55% of the population can be affected by a venous disorder which involves abnormalities of the veins in the legs that slow down the blood flow back to the heart. Disorders can range from small spider veins or telangiectasis, to varicose veins and venous ulcers. Venous disorders increase with age, however genetics and lifestyle also play a role. Diabetes and obesity are big contributing factors, as well as prolonged sitting or standing and too little exercise.
Symptoms can include itching, heaviness in the legs, discomfort, leg swelling, tingling, cramps, swollen ankles. Look out for the appearance of web-like ruptured veins which appear red, purple or blue in colour, as well as large, bulging veins and changes in the appearance of the skin and its texture.
Compression Stockings & Socks
Compression stockings help improve blood flow to the legs by exerting external pressure on the leg veins, helping reduce swollen veins and enhance upward blood flow. They reduce the diameter of enlarged superficial veins and improve the function of vein valves, supporting the pumping effect of muscles on blood flow. As a result, compression stockings can also reduce edema and prevent blood clots.
Compression stockings, socks, and leggings also have the benefits of reducing the build up of lactic acid, aiding in muscle recovery, providing relief from tired, achy legs, and giving the wearer greater endurance by reducing muscle vibration and soreness.
Lunatik Athletics encourages the use of compression leggings for a variety of activities and lifestyles. They are particularly ideal for those who encounter periods of prolonged standing, sitting, or long distance travel - plus, they are fashionable for everyday use!
Another style is graduated compression stockings, which have the most compression in the ankle and a compression profile which decreases as it goes up the leg.
Candidates for compression stockings include:
• People on their feet all day due to constant pressures in the leg, especially those who work in the retail or restaurant industry
• People who sit all day and do not get enough muscle movement in
the calf pump
• People traveling for long distances
Types and Fitting
Although I don't keep stockings in stock (pun intended!), I am a certified fitter of compression stockings and will often recommend them to patients. Wearing compression socks or stockings is important for anyone with varicose veins, but I find them beneficial for those who are constantly on their feet. This is especially true for teachers or any workers in the retail and restaurant industries. They also can be worn during long walks and when running to reduce muscle fatigue and worn post workout to help with recovery.
My main suppliers of compression socks are Venosan L & R CAN Inc. and Lunatik Athletiks.
My favourite pair from Venosan are the 4001 knee high – they use a type of fibre which feels comfortable, is easier to don and doff but still offers the graduated compression plus have the option of a thick silicone band to help keep them up.
Lunatik Athletiks is a Canadian brand that offers fun styles and they fit a bit longer than other brands. They also offer a performance compression legging so you can wear them daily and reap the benefits of mild compression; I love the pockets on the thigh to fit my phone!