Compression stockings are socks or hosiery which prevents pooling of excess fluid in your lower extremities. They are designed to move fluid out of the legs and feet. Excess fluid buildup will cause your legs and feet to be achy and tired due to prolonged periods of standing or sitting. By wearing medical compression stockings you can prevent swelling and lower extremities diseases such as varicose veins.

Compression stockings are intended to prevent the progression of venous disorders such as:

  • Swelling
  • Various veins
  • Venous Insufficiency
  • Venous Leg Ulcer
  • Stationary worker
  • Active people
  • Pregnancy
  • Travellers


Another name for swelling in the lower extremities is edema. Edema is caused by the buildup of excess fluid in the lower leg and ankle. Edema may be painless but can be caused by heart conditions, vein issues, medications and injury. If you suffer from prolonged swelling, you should seek medical attention immediately to rule out chronic venous insufficiency or any other serious disease.

Symptoms of edema:

  • Enlarged calf and ankles
  • Tired and Achy legs
  • Decreased skin retention
  • Stiffness and Decreased mobility (legs and feet may heavier than normal)

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are damaged veins that no longer return blood to the heart effectively. Varicose veins can range from mild to severe. It is caused by the back flow or pooling of blood in the veins. They can develop due to long periods of standing and walking or even during pregnancy.

Symptoms of varicose veins:

  • Veins that are bulging and “pop out”
  • Tired and Achy legs
  • Fatigue, Stiffness and the feeling of Leg Heaviness
  • Inflammation of a superficial vein

Chronic Venous Insufficency (CVI)

If the valves of the veins become damaged, the blood may pool in the leg and lead to pain and discomfort. The legs will swell and can lead to ulcerations in the leg and skin damage.

Symptoms of CVI:

  • Varicose veins
  • Daily swelling of the leg
  • Colour Changes to the skin (usually around or above ankle region)
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Skin is Fragile – minor trauma may cause skin to open up.

CVI can be effectively managed by wearing gradient compression stockings daily.

Venous Leg Ulcer

Venous leg ulcers are wounds on the leg that are slow to heel. If the valves in the veins do not work properly, blood pools and your leg swells. Chronic swelling prevents oxygen and the nutritional elements needed to be easily delivered to your skin. If your skin is not receiving the properly nutrients, the skin can change colour (usually darker) and become dry and flaky. The skin becomes fragile and if traumatized can become a slow healing ulcer.

Symptoms of venous ulcers:

  • Varicose veins
  • Daily swelling of the leg
  • Colour Changes to the skin (usually around or above ankle region)
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Open skin with moderate to heavy drainage

Medical compression stockings can help manage your condition.

Stationary Worker

You may experience swelling of the legs at the end of the work day due to stagnant blood flow. If you are stationary (sitting or standing) for long periods of the day, gravity will contribute to the cause of the swelling.
As a result, compression therapy will help relieve symptoms of heaviness and tiredness at the end of the day and prevent chronic leg complications such as chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins and edema.

Active People

Over the past couple of years, compression therapy has become popular in athletes. Many top triathletes wear medical compression stockings during events to reduce fatigue and the amount of time needed for recovery. There are some studies that show performance benefits from wearing compression during activity and also many runners claim that compression socks help with shin splints and calf cramping.


During the thirst trimmest of pregnancy, blood flow through the veins of your legs can be impeded due to the weight of the baby. Compression stockings can help support the superficial veins and reduce venous congestion. Compression therapy will help increase blood flow and relax the vein walls which will reduce swelling and preventing varicose veins.

Talk with your obstetrician about the amount of compression and stocking style best suited for you during this pregnancy.


Travelling for long distances can be associated with swelling in the feet and legs due to lack of movement. This can lead to tired and achy legs.
If you are in a seated position for long periods of time with restricted movement, the amount of venous blood that transfers from your legs to your heart becomes diminished. If you have any pre-existing heart conditions, you may be at risk for a travel-related thrombus (blood clot). Usually your risk for blood clot increases when you travel for longer than 5 hours in a seated position. Venous thrombosis is medical emergency because if the clot dislodges and travels to your lungs, in can result in a pulmonary embolism.

Your chances of a thrombus forming can be reduced by wearing compression stockings while travelling.

Recommendations for any extended travel:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Move your ankles like you are drawing the alphabet
  • Stretch and exercise your legs at least once every hour
  • Elevate legs when possible
  • Avoid high-heeled footwear and restrictive clothing
  • Wear gradient compression hosiery
  • Seek medical advice if you have or are concerned about any risk factor

You should talk with physician to determine what type of stockings would be best suited for you and for advice on prophylactic measures when travelling.