The human foot is an amazing invention. They’re able to bear or weight on any surface for decade upon decade. Keeping us upright, stable, and in motion. It makes total sense that everyone’s feet take quite a beating over the course of their life. Injuries, infections, and age can really take their toll. That’s why for 16 years we have been shouting from the rooftops how important it is to take care of your feet. Wearing good socks, good shoes, and good foot beds every day. Keeping your feet clean and healthy.
For the past couple of years, a new idea in socks has been bubbling up, first in the medical field, and now blossoming into the outdoors. Compression! We’ve seen it in base layers, and it can be quite helpful in certain applications. It has now come into socks, and for specific conditions and uses, we think they can provide a real benefit to you.
The basic goal of a Compression Sock is to keep blood from pooling in your feet and increase circulation back to the heart. In the medical industry, they use a mercury scale to rate how much compression a sock gives. Above 30 mm Hg, well, this is the ‘prescription’ level, for specific medical conditions, and only under a doctor’s recommendation. Socks of this type are pretty much sold by medical supply stores, and TAE won’t be carrying compression socks of this type.
Below that level, however, are two key levels you should know – the 15-20 mm Hg range, and the 20-30 mm Hg range. The 15-20 mm socks are designed for everyday use, especially for people who sit or stand all day long. Also recommended for travel, where you often sit on airplanes or in airports for extended periods. This is a moderate level of compression and should be beneficial to nearly every user.
The 20-30 mm range, or firm compression, gives additional compression for folks recommended to have more, those who don’t find enough benefit from the lower level and for some specific medical conditions. If you’re interested in testing out compression, we recommend you start with a sock in the 15-20 mm range, and move up only if needed.
Some compression sock manufacturers suggest that their products are designed for use during active sports. Some sports testers have found benefits, and some have not. For things like skiing, running and other highly active sports, the jury is still out. The risk of less circulation while skiing can produce negative side effects (cold feet). From most of the athletes we’ve interviewed, they see compression as recover after exercise beneficial, however not so much actually during the intense activity.
Where we believe compression can be of tremendous benefit to many people is in everyday wear. Just as wearing a good wicking sock keeps your feet dry and healthy when you’re hiking in the mountains, so too can a compression sock help you keep feet and body healthier on work days. You will feel better, stronger, and with more endurance when you are out playing.
By keeping the blood from pooling in your feet, and circulating back to the heart, your muscles perform better, and you have more energy. In most compression socks, the compression is graduated and zoned, with the most at your ankle, and progressively less as you move us the leg. This further enhances the blood flow back to the heart resulting in you feeling spring in your step when you play.
As we age, we tend to become more sedentary. Our hearts don’t pump blood quite like they did when we were younger. We think compression socks can be of particular valuable to more mature customers! Promoting healthy circulation and soothing tired feet – now that is a combination we’d all like to see.
Compression socks debuted this spring at The Alpine Experience in our new Land of Summer, right at the front of the store. We have compression styles from Smartwool, Dahlgren, and Sockwell (a division of Goodhew). Ranging from $24 – $30, they aren’t the least expensive socks, but they are an amazing value, as they are built with great fivers, well designed, and really provide the benefit.
I tested the Dahlgren Compression (15-20 mm) last month – all day walking and sitting at a trade show, then on the plane all night. And yes, once I got used to having a knee high sock on, I didn’t feel as tired as many days, and my feet didn’t hurt at all. Was that because of the socks, or because I hydrated all day? I am not sure, but the socks were certainly a part of it.