The Science Behind Compression Socks

Compression wear is becoming more popular and mainstream than ever before. It is no longer thought of as something that only elderly people or people with medical conditions wear – compression is for everyone. Many drugstores and pharmacies now sell compression sport socks at the counter. Numerous professional athletes and celebrities sing the praises of compression wear for their professions. There are numerous benefits, like reducing the risk of blood clots and improving performance; these benefits can vary depending on the use of the socks. Although the benefits might be the most interesting part of compression wear, it’s quite useful to understand how it actually works. In this blog, let’s take a moment to go over the science behind how compression works.

Learning about legs

First of all, let’s think about our legs. Our legs are filled with blood vessels: arteries and veins. Arteries carry freshly oxygenated blood from the heart to the body, while veins return blood to the heart from organs throughout the body. This means that to reach the heart, the blood needs to flow upwards (against gravity) through the veins in the legs. To get that blood back to the heart, calf muscles need to contract (for example, by walking). This will squeeze the veins and push the blood upwards. Since blood flowing up is against gravity, the veins contain one-way valves so that the blood doesn’t flow back down by mistake.

What if veins don’t work properly?

When the veins in your legs don’t work properly, they are unable to pump blood back up to your heart. This is called venous disease or Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). This can result in swelling in ankles and legs, pain and varicose veins. Knowing this, it makes much more sense why it is important to keep our veins and valves working properly.

How does compression help?

This is where compression comes in. Compression is used to help keep your veins pumping blood up to your heart. The external graduated compression that is engineered into compression socks acts as layer of muscle that gently squeezes the stretched vein walls together. This allows the valves to close. The cavity of the vein is reduced, thereby restoring blood flow to a normal state and aiding overall circulation. In short, compression garments act as an external layer of muscle to pump blood from lower extremities back to your heart.

Compression garments come in different pressure levels, depending on how much help your legs need. Pressure levels range from non-prescription support stockings (less than 20mmHg of pressure) to prescription, medical-grade compression wear (20-40mmHg). Consult your doctor if you are unsure what level of compression you require. If you are looking to purchase prescription compression socks, our Certified Fitters will measure your legs and ensure you select the best socks for your lifestyle. Call or email our Nightingale locations today to book an appointment. This is a great time to consider purchasing compression socks, as our annual Love Your Legs Sale is now on!


Welcome to the Love Your Legs Sale 2021!

From January 1 – March 31, 2021, receive 15% off of two pairs of non-prescription compression socks or 20% off of two pairs of prescription compression socks.

Stay tuned for more Love Your Legs compression content in the coming weeks!


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