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What are Compression Socks?

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Almost everyone wears socks (I think? I hope?). So what separates compression socks from regular, everyday socks? And how can they improve your day-to-day life, especially for people like nurses and those with medical conditions in their legs and feet? 

It’s possible that this is the first time you’ve heard of compression socks, so let’s break it down for you. 

Simply put, compression socks or stockings are socks that squeeze and apply pressure to your legs. Constricting your veins allows for increased blood and lymph flow, which reduces and prevents a variety of medical conditions. 

Depending on the sock’s construction, the socks can apply different amounts of pressure, which achieves different effects. Many athletes choose to wear compression socks to improve circulation. Given the medical benefits, patients who suffer from conditions such as diabetes also opt to wear compression socks. And of course, nurses are super grateful for them because they prevent swelling and fatigue during long shifts.

 

What Are The Different Types of Compression Socks?

To get into the specifics of it, here’s a table that illustrates the benefits of compression socks at different pressure levels. The more mmHg, the more pressure is applied by the socks. Although more levels of pressure exist, we’ll be focusing on these three levels of compression as they’re the most common ones on the market.

 

Mild compression, defined as 8-15 mmHg, is often too loose to really achieve the positive medical effects compression socks were made for. Moderate compression is the level of pressure Ruby’s socks offer; we’ll get into the specific health benefits of them later. And finally, firm compression, defined as 20-30 mmHg, is the most common level of pressure offered. These graduated compression socks are medical-grade and will often be prescribed by a doctor for those with more complicated health issues. 

Compression socks of up to 50 mmHg exist, however that level of compression is too strong and should only be used for severe medical conditions such as acute swelling, lymphedema, and DVT (deep vein thrombosis). 

 

What Makes Ruby’s Socks So Great?

Ruby’s socks have 15-20 mmHg of compression; this compression is also uniform compression, which means the level of pressure is the same throughout the sock. At this level of compression, Ruby's compression socks help prevent embolisms, fatigue, varicose veins, spider veins, pain, and swelling.

And as a side note, they are also circular knit, which means there are no irritating seams to bug you while you wear them! 

But how do you know if they’re a good fit for you? Should you buy them only if you have a related medical condition? Should you buy them if you’re an athlete that needs better blood circulation? Should you buy them because our socks are super cute and stylish? (Definitely for this last one.)

The truth is, because Ruby’s socks aren’t medical-grade, you can buy them without a prescription or a doctor’s recommendation. Whether you’re buying our socks for the health benefits or for style, you won’t need any qualification to purchase them. 

However, we would definitely recommend our socks if you work in certain fields or have a history of certain medical conditions. Given the situation, our socks can be very beneficial and make your day-to-day life much more comfortable.

 

When to Wear Ruby’s Compression Socks?

We certainly recommend compression socks for those that are experiencing medical conditions related to circulation and blood flow in their legs. If you have varicose veins, spider veins, or swelling in the legs, our compression socks are perfect for you. Also, if you’re at risk of DVT, lymphedema, and other more severe medical conditions in the legs, we’d recommend our compression socks to mitigate those symptoms. Of course, talk to a doctor about maybe acquiring a prescription if necessary.

But aside from those suffering from specific medical conditions, Ruby’s compression socks are also beneficial for a variety of other people. In fact, I have a story to tell about this one.

I come from a nursing background, and that career actually inspired me to create this business of compression socks. Having to do shifts of over 14 hours some days really takes its toll, especially since I’m standing on my feet almost all day. Wearing regular socks just didn’t do it for me, so I really wanted to find a way to make life and work more comfortable (and stylish). That’s where compression socks come into play!

They are perfect to wear when you’re on your feet all day (hello long shifts), which is the reason I started wearing compression socks. But besides that, our compression socks are also great for a number of other reasons. 

For pregnant women, swelling and fatigue are very common issues. Compression socks have been proven to reduce those symptoms, and you’ll feel much more comfortable during pregnancy.

Naturally, the benefits that our compression socks offer to pregnant women are also applicable to any and everyone else that buys our socks. Athletes are fans of compression socks because one, they’re often on their feet all day and enjoy the comfort, and two, the improved circulation that compression socks offer improves stamina and activity. And of course, if you like the general comfort of compression socks, then we encourage you to buy them too!

Additionally, our compression socks are easier to put on and take off because they have lighter compression than a lot of our competitors. They are also more comfortable, considering discomfort increases as the measurement of compression increases. Furthermore, Ruby’s stockings have a reinforced heel and toe to make them even more comfortable. There is also silver woven throughout the fabric that kills bacteria and odor. This way, you won’t have to worry about smelly or unclean feet when wearing our socks.

 

What Are Medical-Grade Compression Socks?

As mentioned above, Ruby’s compression socks aren’t medical-grade since they don’t offer the same pressure that medical-grade compression stockings offer. For firm compression (20-30 mmHg), the health benefits and effects are different from our compression socks. Here’s a rundown of medical-grade compression stockings!

The first thing to note about medical-grade compression stockings is that they’re built differently from our compression socks. Whereas Ruby’s socks offer uniform compression (equal amounts of pressure throughout the sock), medical-grade socks offer gradient compression. The pressure of the socks increases towards the bottom of the foot, allowing the blood to flow better back up the leg. This trait of medical-grade compression stockings is especially important when dealing with various medical conditions—more on that later. 

Medical-grade compression stockings are good for preventing moderate and severe cases of varicose veins, spider veins, swelling, and more medical conditions in your feet and legs. They’re also recommended to be worn post-surgery, as they are very good for improving blood flow and circulation.

These compression socks can also prevent and treat some medical conditions that light or mild compression socks cannot. Included in the list is plantar fasciitis, which is effectively inflammation and swelling in the legs. By improving circulation and blood flow in the legs, medical-grade compression stockings are often prescribed as the first option for reducing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Of course, if the conditions worsen, contact a doctor for advice on your next steps.

Diabetes is another disease that medical-grade compression socks can help with. People who have diabetes or family members with diabetes will know that the disease limits blood flow and circulation massively, especially in the legs. One of the first major symptoms of diabetes is a loss of feeling in the legs. Naturally, medical-grade compression stockings help with this condition by improving blood flow in the legs.

You’ve heard us mention varicose veins a few times now, so what exactly is this condition, and how do compression socks help? Well, varicose veins are essentially damaged veins in the body whose valves close up, not allowing blood to flow in and out. Varicose veins do not occur exclusively in the legs, either, so watch out for this condition in other parts of the body as well.

As you can probably guess, compression socks help to reduce swelling and blood pooling in your legs. They add pressure, which helps the blood flow back up from your legs, despite gravity pulling it down. Added pressure allows the blood to flow better, and the most common symptoms of varicose veins such as swelling, aches, fatigue, and pain are relieved with compression socks. 

For the medical-grade compression stockings, you’ll need a prescription or recommendation from a doctor to actually purchase and wear these socks. This also goes for any compression socks with higher compression levels (30-50 mmHg). So, if these benefits of compression socks interest you, we encourage you to buy Ruby’s socks, without any need for a doctor’s note!

 

How to Wear Compression Socks

Because of their pressure, compression socks can be a little more difficult to put on than regular socks. If you’re struggling to put compression socks on, here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it:

  • Roll the top of the sock down to the heel
  • Put your foot in the sock and fit your heel in nice and snug
  • Unroll the sock back up your leg. Make sure there are no wrinkles or folds
  • Flatten out any wrinkles and folds to ensure that the compression works as it’s intended to.

It’s best to put on your compression socks in the morning because that’s when your legs swell the least. This way, any swelling later on in the day will be controlled by the socks.

 

When NOT to Wear Compression Socks

As great as compression socks are, there are some instances where they shouldn’t be worn. Here’s a list of medical conditions that would actually cause compression socks to do more damage than good. If you have any of these conditions, please DO NOT wear compression socks.

--Any instance of suspected or proven Peripheral Artery Disease

--History of peripheral arterial bypass grafting

--Sensory impairment in your legs, including severe peripheral neuropathy

--Any time there is massive leg or pulmonary edema as a result of Congestive Heart Failure

--Any skin or soft tissue conditions on your legs that the compression could exacerbate

--Extreme deformity in your legs, preventing the sock to fit correctly

--If you are allergic to anything the socks are made out of (in Ruby’s case: nylon, spandex, or silver-ion antimicrobial technology)

Also, to ensure that the compression of your socks stays in the range it was designed to, please be sure to replace your socks every 3-6 months.  But if the compression isn’t an issue for you, no need to replace them!  They will continue to be stylish for as long as you keep them in your wardrobe.

 

Get Your Compression Socks Now!

Now that you know everything about compression socks, it’s time to get some!

Here at Ruby, we offer fun, colorful compression socks for busy women, nurses and healthcare workers both on and off the job. There’s sure to be a style that you love. Check out some of our latest sock designs here!

 

 

REFERENCES

Graduated compression stockings

Medline Plus: Compression stockings

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