Compression socks are commonly known as compression stockings or TED hose in the medical field. Another term commonly used to describe compression socks is support socks. They are used to treat a variety of ailments commonly associated with either poor circulation or edema of the feet, ankles or lower extremities by applying supporting pressure to the area.

The secret to how compression socks work is in applying graduated pressure to the affected areas which assists the heart to return body from the swollen areas back to the heart. Pressures applied by the socks are greater in the feet and ankles and then slowly decline the farther you go up the leg. Wearing compression stockings or socks causes the arterial pressure to be increased in the swollen areas, thus aiding the return of blood to the heart.

Although the use of compression socks and compression stockings were once only recommended for patients with circulation disorders; their use has become once more widely suggested in recent years. In fact, many people find them to be extremely beneficial for regular daily use.

Compression socks are made of stretchy materials which have elastic properties with firm support. Think of the old support pantyhose, now imagine about double or triple thickness and this is roughly the firmness of support you will get in a compression stocking or sock.

Compression stockings are sold in different levels of support which are measured in mmHg. Light support is considered 12-16 mmHg, medium support is 15-20 mmHg and heavy support is 20-30 mmHg.

Who can Benefits from Compression Socks?

Compression socks or stockings are recommended to passengers on long flights to guard against the potentially life threatening condition known as "coach-class syndrome" and to help reduce swelling due to prolonged altitude changes.

Athletes, especially runners and marathoners, have also found compression socks to be beneficial. Some have reported reduced recovery times, fewer leg cramps and less chance of injury to muscles while running long distances.

Healthcare workers and anyone standing for long periods of time have also reported less leg and muscle fatigue with regular use of compression socks due to the support they offer. Another benefit seems to be improved body mechanics due to proper support of the feet, arches, ankles and knees.

Surprisingly, full length compression pantyhose also come in maternity wear to ease the stress of late pregnancy on the body. The light compression maternity pantyhose offer support to the lower back, knees and legs while helping to reduce swelling in the feet and lower legs. As always, ask your doctor before beginning use in pregnancy or with other serious medical conditions.

How to Launder Compression Socks

Once you have purchased and worn your compression stockings, you may be wondering how to launder them to extend their life. The instructions for laundering are the same as for other delicate items such as thermal socks containing wool or cashmere socks.

Compression socks and compression stockings are no longer only for those suffering from circulation disorders. Their use can be helpful to many people engaging in a variety