It seems that compression clothing is all the rage these days. You can’t go for a walk in the park without seeing someone wearing compression stockings, socks, pants, sleeves, or shirts while jogging or playing recreational sports.
But if you’re not wearing compression stockings for athletics, you’re probably wearing them for a more serious reason. From things like spider veins to decreasing your risk for deep vein thrombosis, compression provides many medical benefits and can improve your quality of life.
That’s because compression stockings improve circulation, which helps your body in many ways. But here are some of the reasons the biggest beneficiary of better circulation is your heart.
Who Wears Compression Stockings?
To better understand how compression stockings help your heart, it’s important to understand who needs to wear them most. The short answer—people with circulation problems. They include:
Poor circulation can cause blood to pool in the veins of your lower legs and feet. This can lead to complications like:
You could also be at risk for developing a blood clot. Blocking a blood vessel can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
How Compression Stockings Work
The blood in your veins works against gravity to flow back to the heart. To combat this blood flow problem, veins contain many one-way valves, which permit blood to flow only toward the heart. By squeezing the leg tissues and walls of your veins, compression stockings can help blood return to the heart.
The compression helps to push your blood from staying in the veins in your legs and feet.
Compression stockings can also improve the flow of lymph in the legs. This can help reduce tissue swelling and remove bacteria, abnormal cells and other matter in all of your major organs—not just in your heart.
Graduated Compression Stockings
Compression stockings for medical use typically look a bit different from running tights. They’re made with a variety of materials including:
You’ll also find that they’re graduated. This means they will be much tighter around your calf and lower leg than the top of your leg. That’s because the goal is to keep blood from pooling in your legs by forcing it up to the heart.
During exercise, muscular contractions help to move blood through the veins and back to the heart. When you sit still, these contractions don’t occur, but compression stockings help the process. And loosening the stocking around your thigh allows your blood to flow to your heart without constriction.
Compression Stockings and Heart Rate
When your circulation is good, your heart is not working as hard. If your heart is pumping at full force, your heart rate lowers, heart muscles relax and your blood pressure flows evenly and smoothly. Good blood flow and circulation also helps promote cell growth and organ function.
It’s amazing how something that seems so simple on the surface can provide your body, especially your heart, with so many benefits. The next time you slip on your compression stockings, for whatever reason, you can rest assured your heart is better for it.
If you’d like to learn more about vein disease, spider veins, varicose veins and treatments, download our free infographic.