Graduated compression - explanation and benefits

Compression benefits 101

Summary: in this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of compression products, including their benefits and how they can be effective, the individuals who would most benefit from these solutions, and the various types of compression garments available.


Compression garments are often used for many purposes because they fundamentally provide constant pressure on targeted body parts. Specific products that have been tested and verified to effectively offer the intended benefits, can even provide preventative and treatment outcomes. 


How does Compression Work?

The pressure provided by compression garments can improve blood circulation. Think of it like a gentle hug for your muscles and veins. The effect of gravity pulling down everything including our circulating blood, combined with wear and tear on the veins over time, can result in inefficient blood circulation in our bodies. Compression products, by squeezing the veins together in the right places, can help the blood flow more efficiently back to the heart. This increased circulation brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissues while removing waste products. It's like giving your muscles a boost and helping them recover faster. 

For this to be most effective, compression products are often designed to be the tightest on the feet or ankles, and gradually decrease in compression towards the top section to facilitate blood flow back to the heart. This is referred to as "Graduated Compression" - look for this next time when you are purchasing compression garments! 


Benefits of Compression Therapy

Compression products can offer a multitude of benefits that contribute to improved overall well-being. Some of the many benefits include:

  • Reduced soreness after exercise: compression garments can help minimize muscle soreness and fatigue by providing support and stabilizing muscles during physical activity.
  • Reduced swelling in the lower extremities: compression garments can be highly effective in reducing swelling in the legs and feet. By promoting better circulation, they aid in preventing and managing the accumulation of excess fluid.
  • Increased blood flow: by exerting pressure on the veins and muscles, compression garments can enhance blood flow and improve oxygen and nutrient delivery to the tissues. This can result in improved performance, enhanced recovery, and reduced risk of blood clots.
  • Relief from varicose veins: compression garments can alleviate the swelling and pain caused by varicose veins by supporting the vein walls and improving venous circulation.


Who can benefit from compression solutions?

Compression products can be beneficial to many, including:

  • Athletes: compression garments aid in muscle recovery, reduce swelling caused by exercise, and enhance performance by stabilizing muscles and minimizing muscle vibration.
  • Individuals with diabetes: compression bandages and stockings can help manage swelling and protect ulcers on legs from external elements.
  • Those with edema (swelling): compression therapy effectively reduces swelling by promoting proper drainage and preventing fluid buildup in the affected areas.
  • Individuals with chronic venous insufficiency (conditions where blood flow in the veins is impaired): those with varicose veins, venous ulcers and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can take advantage of compression benefits including the offered support for impaired veins that prevent backflow and pooling of blood in the feet.


What are some available types of compression garments?

There are many available compression options that are tailored to different needs and preferences. Here are some common ones:

  • Compression socks: Designed to cover the lower legs up to the knees, compression socks are commonly used to manage swelling, improve circulation, and prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
  • Compression stockings: Come in varying lengths, typically up to the thighs and waist, catering to specific needs that often involve support for the lower limbs above the knees. Most products are hosiery and see-through knit fabric. 
  • Compression leggings: Opaque compression tights that cover waist-to-ankles, providing comfort, style, and similar benefits as compression stockings.
  • Compression bandages/wraps: Offer localized compression and support for specific areas, such as joints or areas of injury.
  • Compression pumps: Operated by pneumatic compression to apply wave-like pressure to limbs, aids in lymphatic draining and reduces swelling. 


Important takeaway:

It is important to know that not all garments labeled “compression” will provide the same benefits. When choosing a compression garment check for indications of “graduated compression” and if there is a specific measurement of the pressure the garment will provide, often in the unit mmHg. If these two features are clearly stated, you can be more confident that you are getting a quality product that can provide the benefits mentioned in this guide.



In the next guide, tips on choosing the right compression garment for you will be discussed, including choosing a compression level that fits your personal needs, so stay tuned!


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