Ted hose or compression socks are often advised for patients following surgeries or to prevent blood clots. However, there are many benefits of compression socks which can be beneficial for a multitude of uses. 

Compression socks were invented in 1950 by German Engineer Conrad Jobset who suffered from varicose veins. In the 80’s they were used for recovery in athletic populations and runners began using them during long runs. They have evolved into use in medical settings and they even have compression leggings now. A recent study recently found that compression socks had minimal effect on athletic performance but helped with the recovery process. 

Compression stockings use what is called graduated compression to help achieve the benefits. This means that the compressive force is greatest at the ankles and decreases as it goes up the leg. This helps to push blood and other fluids up the leg. As we stand and move around throughout the day, gravity can create ‘pooling’ in the veins in our legs.  The socks help to decrease the size of the vein which prevents the pooling. 

Compression socks are beneficial in the following ways:

  • Decrease swelling and edema
  • Improve circulation
  • Decrease recovery time in athletes
  • Prevent fluid retention during pregnancy
  • Decrease perceived muscle soreness following bouts of exercise
  • Prevent stiffness and swelling from traveling (cars rides and planes)

Compression socks do not have to be worn all the time to be beneficial. Some people find them uncomfortable and others love them so wear schedules may look different for everyone. If they are being worn for post surgical use or in prevention of a blood clot, your physician will most likely recommend wearing them during the day and taking off the socks at night and to shower. 

If you are wearing them for athletic purposes they can be worn during the activity and for a few hours after your activity (preferably a new, clean pair). If they are being worn for travel to prevent stiffness and swelling, it is best to wear them throughout the duration of the travel activity. 

If you are experiencing cold toes or loss of circulation, your socks may be too tight and you’ll want to talk to your physician about getting some with less compression. Do not fold the tops of them down as that can cut off circulation and act as a tourniquet.