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Should You Wear Compression Stockings While Walking?

Should You Wear Compression Stockings While Walking?

Jun 27, 2024 | Blog

Compression stockings are specialized stockings that manage medical conditions related to poor blood circulation like varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. They are designed to help blood vessels by applying graduated pressure to your legs. While typically associated with long periods of inactivity, when paired with light forms of exercise compression stockings can further help with promoting blood flow in the legs. As such, yes, you should wear compression stockings while walking.

Compression stockings should be used as a supplementary aid rather than a standalone solution. They assist in healing and provide comfort for those with a medical condition, but should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to poor blood circulation or varicose veins, you should seek professional medical advice. At CACVI, we have board-certified Endovascular and Cardiovascular surgeons who offer expert care to patients who need varicose vein treatment. Schedule a free personalized consultation with us today!

In this blog, we will address questions surrounding wearing compression stockings while walking. We will also discuss how to choose compression stockings and their potential risks. 

What Are Compression Stockings?

What Are Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings are specialized socks designed to improve blood flow and provide support to people with vascular conditions. They come in two types; graduated compression stockings and anti-embolism stockings.

Graduated compression socks apply more pressure at the ankle and gradually decrease pressure up the leg. They are ideal for improving blood circulation and managing conditions like busted blood vessels in the leg, varicose veins, and chronic venous insufficiency. On the other hand, anti-embolism compression socks are designed to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), especially for individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility.

Typically, compression stockings are made from elastic materials that provide gentle pressure to the legs. They are constructed to be moisture-wicking to help keep the skin dry and comfortable.

The Benefits of Wearing Compression Stocking

One of the benefits of wearing compression socks is that it improves blood circulation. They help blood flow more efficiently through the veins. Thus, reducing the risk of blood clots and promoting overall vascular health. 

Compression stockings also reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). They do this by preventing blood from pooling in the legs. Similarly, they help in decreasing leg swelling and discomfort, especially during long periods of inactivity or walking. 

Another benefit of wearing compression socks is that they enhance athletic performance and recovery. Athletes use compression stockings to improve oxygen delivery to muscles, reduce lactic acid buildup, and speed up recovery time. 

Should I Wear Compression Stockings While Walking?

Should I Wear Compression Stockings While Walking?

Yes, you should wear compression socks while walking. Walking is a natural way to promote blood flow and improve leg health. It engages the calf muscles, which act as a pump to help blood return to the heart.

For individuals with specific medical conditions such as varicose veins, and venous insufficiency, and those at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it is safe to wear compression socks. Wearing compression stockings while walking can provide substantial relief and support. 

Furthermore, compression socks offer increased support and stability to the legs. This can be particularly helpful for people with weak or painful legs. The gentle pressure exerted by the stockings helps keep the blood flowing smoothly, reducing the risk of blood clots and other vascular issues.

Who Should Wear Compression Stockings While Walking?

Who Should Wear Compression Stockings While Walking?

People with a history of leg health issues can significantly benefit from wearing compression stockings while walking. These issues include varicose veins, venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), edema, etc. Compression stockings can improve blood circulation, reduce swelling, and prevent blood clots, helping to alleviate these conditions.

Pregnant women can also wear a compression sock as pregnancy can put extra pressure on the veins in the legs. Thus, leading to swelling, discomfort, and an increased risk of varicose veins and DVT. Wearing compression socks during pregnancy can help improve blood flow, reduce swelling, and support blood vessels. 

Another set of people who should wear compression socks while walking are athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They should wear these compression socks during and after their activities. The benefits of doing so include enhanced performance, reduced muscle fatigue, and faster recovery. 

Office workers and frequent travelers should also wear compression stockings while walking. This is because they sit or stand for long periods. How compression socks work for them is that they help reduce edema, improve circulation, and provide comfort. 

When to Wear Compression Stockings

Aside from the situations cited above, you should also wear compression socks for medical conditions like varicose veins and lymphedema. When it comes to varicose veins, compression socks help to gently squeeze the legs, promote better flow, and reduce the appearance and discomfort of varicose veins. In addition, they help reduce swelling and improve lymphatic drainage when it concerns lymphedema

Wearing compression socks also helps during post-surgery recovery. They promote improved blood circulation post-surgery as they prevent complications such as blood clots. Compression socks also support blood vessels to boost the healing process during post-surgery recovery and help reduce postoperative swelling.

How to Choose the Right Compression Stockings

How to Choose the Right Compression Stockings

Compression stockings come in various levels of compression, measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The right level depends on your specific needs. For example, there is a mild compression level (8-15 mmHg) which is ideal for relieving minor swelling and tired legs. There is also the moderate or medium compression level (15-20 mmHg) that is commonly used for moderate varicose veins, mild edema, and during pregnancy. The firm level (20-30 mmHg) is recommended for more severe varicose veins, moderate to severe edema, and post-surgery recovery, while the extra firm level (30-40 mmHg) is for severe medical conditions like chronic venous insufficiency and severe lymphedema. Importantly, these compression socks should be used under medical supervision.

To get your correct fit for compression socks, an expert would measure your ankle, calf, thigh, and length. They would measure the narrowest part of your ankle which is just above the bone, and measure the widest part of your calf. They would also measure the widest part of your thigh if you are getting thigh-high stockings. However, if you are getting knee-high stockings, they would measure from the floor to the bend of your knee. 

How to Properly Use Compression Stockings

How to Properly Use Compression Stockings

In wearing your compression socks, you should use them in the morning before any swelling starts. Also, ensure that your legs are dry and free from lotions or oils. It also helps to turn the stocking inside out up to the heel area. 

When wearing the socks, place your foot into the stocking and ensure the heel is in place. Then, slowly roll the compression stocking up your leg and smooth out any wrinkles to avoid pressure points. It helps to use rubber gloves to help grip and position the stockings without causing damage. Alternatively, you can get a stocking dinner, which is a specialized tool used to make putting on compression stockings more accessible and easier.

Typically, you should wear your compression socks all day, from morning until bedtime. Then, remove them before sleeping. Importantly, follow your healthcare provider for advice on specific conditions. 

It’s important to note that you should hand wash your compression socks with mild soap and water or use a delicate cycle in the washing machine. Then, air dry your stockings away from direct heat, and do not wring them out as it can damage the elasticity of elastic compression stockings. It is also best to replace your compression socks every 3-6 months to ensure they maintain proper compression levels. 

Potential Risks and Precautions of Compression Stockings

Potential Risks and Precautions of Compression Stockings

While compression stockings are generally safe and beneficial, there can be some potential side effects, especially if they are not used properly. These include skin irritation, improper fit issues, and moisture build-up. 

Individuals with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) should avoid compression stockings as they can further restrict blood flow to the extremities. If you have any open wounds, sores, or skin infections on your legs, wearing compression socks can also aggravate these conditions. Furthermore, compression socks may increase the workload on the heart and are generally not recommended for people with severe heart failure. In addition, if you are allergic to the materials used in the stockings, you should find hypoallergenic options or avoid them altogether.

Importantly, before starting to use compression socks, you should consult with a healthcare provider. They can help you determine the appropriate compression level, ensure proper fit, and address any underlying conditions.

Need to Consult a Doctor about Wearing Compression Socks?

Compression socks offer numerous benefits, including improved blood circulation, reduced swelling and discomfort, support for medical conditions, and post-surgery recovery. However, keep in mind that there may be possible side effects that come with using compression socks such as skin irritation and moisture build-up. Also, it is not compatible for people with peripheral artery disease or heart issues. 

Given the benefits and potential risks associated with compression socks, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting to use them. A doctor can recommend the appropriate compression level, ensure *they are a good fit, and even evaluate underlying conditions. 

If you are considering wearing compression socks and need expert guidance, contact CACVI. We have the best Center for Advanced Cardiac and Vascular Interventions in LA, and offer comprehensive evaluations and personalized care. Schedule an appointment with us for your endovascular and cardiovascular evaluation!


If you were told you need an amputation, get a second opinion! We are board certified consultants in endovascular interventions committed to improving the quality of your life and the lives of those you love!

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