You may have noticed watching a sporting event, whether it be basketball or a running event, the athletes seem to be returning to longer socks. This most likely is not a fashion choice but one of performance enhancement.
Previously compression garments were worn by people who were having poor venous return, i.e. poor circulation in the legs causing reduced blood return resulting in bulging varicose veins, swelling in the legs and feet. Compression socks or hose are graduated elastic garments that have stronger compression at the feet and reducing as they go up the leg or thigh, this acts to push the blood up the leg and return it to the circulation, reducing swelling and blood pooling in the veins. Older individuals, people who stand for long periods, pregnant women and pilots/air cabin personnel are those who typically are prescribed these garments.
Recently there has been a large increase in athletes wearing these types of garments, whether they are socks, compression hose, sleeves or shorts and tights. The rationale for the use of these garments in athletes is similar however the mechanism is not well understood. Athletic use of compression garments appears to improve such things as; jump performance, joint awareness thus improved performance of a sport movement, increased blood flow to the muscles, joint warmth and reduced post exercise soreness. There may be a role in compression garments in injury recovery as well.
At the office we carry a number of compression garments for both scenarios: poor circulation, those who have standing occupations ( assembly line workers, General Motors, warehouse employees, Costco, etc) and for athletes looking for a boost in performance or exercise recovery.
If you are interested in learning more about compression garments, feel free to contact me at www.drkevinfinn.ca, 905-831-3939, on Twitter @drkevinfinn, Facebook drkevinfinn