Healthy circulation is vital for your body to function properly. Your blood travels from your heart via your arteries, which takes oxygen-rich blood to the tissues throughout your body. Your veins collect the oxygen-depleted blood from these tissues to return it to your lungs and heart for re-oxygenation and recirculation. Your veins also act as storage tanks for about 65% of your blood so it is always available when your body needs it for any physical exertion.
Your leg veins need to transport your blood, against gravity, from the lowest parts of your body to the heart. This is hard work! Veins do not have the pumping effect of the heart to help move your blood like arteries do, but they do have a series of one-way valves, that when working properly, prevent back flow of blood in the lower legs. Additionally, the muscles and joints around your veins act as pumps to help move your blood.
Regular exercise and movement help maintain healthy circulation because the muscles in your legs and feet help move your blood back to your heart. You can help improve the efficiency of this by wearing compression stockings to provide external support to your veins. The pressure of the compressive fabric of a stocking on your leg and walls of the veins works with the pumping action of your muscles and joints.
Compression stockings can help people of all ages and occupations. They are used in post-surgery recovery and by adults suffering from circulation difficulties, but are also important to help maintain healthy circulation if you stand or sit for long periods of time. People working in occupations like nursing, retail, and postal/factory work can all limit daily discomfort from prolonged fluid pressure in the lower legs and reduce future risk of venous insufficiency by wearing compression stockings.
Compression stockings are also especially important during air travel because sitting in cramped spaces for extended periods of time limits the muscle pump action that aids venous return. This results in poor circulation, swelling and discomfort. Compression stockings can help prevent leg and ankle swelling, and reduce the risk of developing blood clots when you travel.
Many athletes swear by the benefits of compression stockings for athletic performance and recovery. Performance advantages gained by those wearing compression are thought to be due to higher efficiency of blood flow because of the mechanical support of the muscle, which results in improved oxygen transport through the tissues. Some studies have also found that athletes using compression stockings have less post exercise soreness and show faster recovery after exertion.
If you already have poor venous circulation in your legs, you definitely need to consider regular use of compression stockings. When the one way valves in the leg veins weaken there is constant high blood pressure in the veins of the leg due to backflow and pooling of fluid. This causes fluid to be forced into the tissues causing constant swelling. Ultimately, this can cause damage to the skin of the lower legs leading to breakdown and ulcers. Compression is very important in the treatment of venous ulcers.
To learn more about the benefits of compression stockings, who should use them, when they should be used, what strength of compression should be used, and different brands available, join our free public information session, Saturday September 14th, 11:00 am, at Best Health Physiotherapy, 1329 Gardiner’s Rd. Call 613 634 2378 to register.