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Compression Wear By Body Part

By Lauren Monteverde May 15, 2018

Compression Wear

So, you know what compression is and you think you can benefit from their use, but you have no idea where to start. Well a good starting point is figuring out what type of compression gear is right for which parts of the body and what type of pain or issue it targets. Let’s go into some of the compression gear for different extremities of the body and how they can help.

Compression Gear For Feet and Ankles

Compression gear for the feet and ankles are some of the more common types of compression. These compression garments usually are sleeves or socks. The difference being that sleeves usually have an opening at the toe, allow for more air flow, and allow for a greater range of movement. Some do say that socks may be better at preventing blood clots during long periods of inactivity. These garments can help by reducing swelling and pain, improving circulation, and improving oxygenation of the blood. They can help in a lot of ways, but I am going to discuss how they can help your plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is caused by the plantar fascia becoming strained or injured, resulting in inflammation that leads to heel pain. Think of the plantar fascia as a shock absorbing rubber band that supports the arch in your foot, once the tension becomes too great small tears arise. If these tears are not taken care of then your rubber band will break, in the case of your foot the fascia becomes inflamed and your heel begins to hurt. Now apply compression to the plantar fascia, with the added support and compression stress and strain are reduced on the tissue and the tears can repair themselves.

Like with plantar fasciitis, most foot and ankle problems can improve with compression garments. Some common conditions and symptoms that can be improved with compression are heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, heel spurs, edema, foot pain and swelling, and soreness. By providing compression to certain areas of the foot and ankle circulation improves and there is added support, so pain can be reduced, and the condition can begin to improve. Even people who do not yet suffer from any aches and pains can benefit from wearing compression gear on their feet and ankles as it can help prevent a problem in the future. Another huge benefit of compression gear for the feet and ankles is improved recovery for runners and athletes. One study found that runners wearing compression gear when compared to runners who were not, had a delay in the onset of muscle fatigue and reduced post-exercise leg soreness. Looking past exercise, being on your feet all day, like a nurse, or being off your feet for long periods of time, like a traveler, can each cause fatigue, swelling, aches, and pains. The use of compression gear can improve these issues and even prevent them. In sum everyone can benefit from wearing compression gear.

Some recommendations:
  • The FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve. Provides 6 zones of graduated compression and is made of moisture wicking material which reduces bacteria, germs and odor.
  • Thermoskin FXT Compression Socks, Ankle or Crew. Whether you prefer a crew sock or ankle sock they provide compression on 3 main areas, Achilles tendon, plantar fascia, and the arch of your foot. Also made of moisture wicking material and have antibacterial silver microbial fibers.
  • FS4 Plantar Fasciitis Socks. Provides 4 zones of graduated compression, are seamless to improve comfort and made of soft moisture wicking fabric with anti-odor treatment and padding in the heel and ball of foot to create a foot health sock with orthotic benefits. It is also one of the best priced socks on the market without skimping on quality.

Compression Gear For Legs

Compression garments for the legs are also very popular and can sometimes offer compression to your foot and ankle too. The compression gear for your legs are usually sleeves, socks, or hosiery. Though some gear may help with foot and ankle problems this category targets many more issues in the leg. The compression gear for your legs offer more help with circulation and are usually a better choice than those for your feet and ankles, unless your problem resides in the foot or ankle. For example, if you have plantar fasciitis then you may benefit greater from choosing a compression sock or sleeve for your foot or ankle, but if you want it to improve recovery and performance than gear for your leg may offer a greater benefit. Compression garments for the legs usually target the calf, shin, knee, or hamstring. Regardless of wear the garments are targeted, the goal and the benefits are the same. All leg compression gear is made to increase circulation of blood and oxygen, reduce waste in the system, and provide support, all leading to a reduction in fatigue, swelling, inflammation and pain.  The benefits of the garments for the legs are huge and can help with a lot of issues or discomforts but I am going to discuss how they can help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a kind of blood clot that forms in the deep veins usually in the legs. This can occur for a variety of reason, some being a medical condition, medicine, or being unable to move due to a surgery or accident. One of the biggest concerns with DVT is that the blood clot can break loose, travel and get stuck somewhere dangerous, like the lungs which could result in a pulmonary embolism. The good news is that wearing compression gear can reduce the risk of DVT. This is because the compression exerted on the legs allows your blood vessels to work better. Basically, the compression allows for the arteries to relax causing more oxygenated blood to flow to muscles and restricts the veins so that velocity of flow is increased causing improved venous return (deoxygenated blood flowing back to heart) and quicker lactic acid removal (waste causing muscle soreness and fatigue). The process of blood circulation is a normal process for the human body, but compression makes this process more efficient or assists the body in its normal process if it is having issues doing so alone. So, by providing graduated compression on the leg, circulation significantly improves reducing the risk of a blood clot.

Another benefit of compression gear is improved performance and faster recover. Although studies have not proven that compression gear will improve performance and stamina in athletes and runners, many agree and have concluded that they do improve recovery, reduced delayed onset muscle soreness, and their ability to bounce back. Studies have proved that wearing compression gear as opposed to wearing regular spandex (to test placebo affect) after a hard workout, improved recovery time and compression wearers could go longer and faster in the workouts in the days following. One study found this in cyclists and the other found this in marathon runners. In science one can consider something to be true if results are replicated, these are just two studies proving compression improves recovery. Pregnant women can also benefit from the use of compression, by reduce swelling and pain. More so than feet and ankle compression gear, leg gear can help people who are on their feet all day or are off their feet for a significant amount of time by improving circulation and reducing pain. Some other areas where compression gear for your legs can help is if you have shin splints, leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, runners knee, knee arthritis, patellar tendonitis, or vein issues such as varicose veins, venous insufficiencies and DVT, to name a few. As you can tell the scope of why one might want compression gear for their legs is huge and so are their benefits.

Some recommendations:

  • Thermoskin FXT Compression socks, calf. These provide similar benefits as the ankle or crew socks above but have an added benefit of graduated compression on the calf to improve leg conditions and circulation, and aid in sports performance and recovery.
  • The KS7 Knee Sleeve. Provides 7 zones of graduated compression and is designed to comfortably shape to your knee, while offering medical grade knee support. One of the best on the market and is backed by science.
  • The CS6 Compression Calf Sleeve. Provides 6 zones of graduated compression, made of thin material, and comes in a range of colors.
  • Knee High Compression Hosiery 20-30 mmHg. Provides controlled pressure to the legs, good for a traveler or pregnant woman.
  • The QS4 Performance Quad Sleeve. Provides 4 zones of graduated compression, is perfect for reliving quad or hamstring strains and weaknesses.

Compression Gear For Wrists and hands

Compression gear for your wrists and hands can be very beneficial. Your wrists and hands are two areas of the body that are relied upon for most day to day activities, even more so with the emergence of the digital age. Since these areas are so used they are more susceptible to injury or developing conditions such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions are becoming more common due to people being on their computers and tablets for long periods of time. The good news is that wearing compression gear can help prevent conditions or injuries and can help heal existing conditions. This is because compression gear holds the parts of the body in place and provides compression to increase circulation.

People suffering from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist strain or pain, and wrist tendonitis (De Quervains Tenosynovitis), to name a few, can benefit from using compression. I am going to go into how it can help carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes pinched, which can result in numbness and pain in the hand, fingers, and sometimes in the arm. It can be improved by reducing stress to the wrists and hands, taking care to keep the median nerve aligned and reducing the impact on the carpal tunnel, which houses the median nerve. Applying compression gear to the wrist will hold the wrist in place and improves circulation. Holding the wrist in place is important in allowing the nerve to heal and is one of the main ways suggested to improve carpal tunnel syndrome. The added benefit of improved circulation will also aid in the healing process and reduce swelling and pain.

Some Recommendations:

-The WS6 Compression Wrist Sleeve. This sleeve is one of the best on the market and is highly recommended when treating carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis. It has 6 zones of graduated compression, high quality moisture wicking and breathable material, resistant to bacteria development, 2 gel bars to keep in position, and is built to last. Users comment that it skin feels cool and dry when wearing, it is comfortable, and it stands up well against wear and tear.

-Thermoskin Adjustable Wrist / Hand Brace. This sleeve is another good option for wrist and hand pain. It has a metal plate included to offer a little more support and is made of a unique heat-retentive material.

Compression Gear For Arms

Arms are an important part of the body and one that may be overlooked when thinking about compression benefits. In reality, the same benefits you would receive wearing compression on your leg are received wearing compression on your arm. Benefits like muscle repair, increased circulation, faster recovery, and feeling better throughout the day can all be seen after wearing gear on your arms. When looking at specific benefits for the arm, compression can help treat painful lateral and medial epicondylitis (Tennis and Golfer’s elbow), and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, bursitis, elbow arthritis, and other painful elbow conditions. The gear is also beneficial in preventing conditions and injuries from occurring because it holds the tendons and muscles in its proper place and provides support to reduce stress on the body.

I am going to go into how compression gear can help treat Tennis Elbow. Tennis elbow, also referred to as lateral epicondylitis, occurs when the tendons attached to the lateral side of the epicondyle becomes inflamed. The symptoms of tennis elbow are pain and discomfort, swelling or redness, and weakening of the grip. It is important to treat tennis elbow when symptoms first appear because it will usually progress and can cause hindered movement and unbearable pain. Fortunately, it is typically easy to treat tennis elbow. The two ways to relieve the pain and treat tennis elbow are reducing inflammation and supporting the tendons and forearm muscles. Lucky for us, a compression sleeve accomplishes both things. A compression strap or sleeve will provide medical grade pressure to the tendons and muscles keeping them in place and supported, which will reduce strain and allow for the tendon to heal. The compression will also allow for increased circulation which reduces swelling and eases pain.

Some Recommendations:

  • The ES3 Elbow Sleeve. Provides 3 zones of compression and support to the tendons, while still allowing movement and reducing pain. It was specifically designed to treat tennis elbow and is the only elbow strap made with compression zone technology.
  • The ES6 Elbow Sleeve. Provides 6 zones of compression and offers more support and coverage than the ES3 sleeve. It is a bracing sleeve, that is thin and designed to fit an individuals shape and size.
  • Thermoskin Sport Tennis Elbow brace. It has trioxon advantage lining which provides heat therapy and wicks away moisture. Has a stretch core and adjustable straps to ensure comfort and support.

Compression Garments are a great investment to make if you are looking to improve comfort, reduce pain and inflammation, treat certain conditions, increase circulation, improve recovery, and possibly improve performance. The key is that regardless of the body part, compression gear provides support to tendons and muscles and increases circulation, so it will get nutrient rich, oxygenated blood in quicker and move the waste filled deoxygenated blood out. Compression is something that can benefit anyone and can prevent serious condition and injuries from occurring.


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