The lack of necessary blood flow to specific parts of your body can be a harrowing and aggravating experience. While some people only suffer from swelling in their lower extremities after long flights or if they don’t drink enough water, others may have a more serious condition, like diabetes, that disrupts normal circulation.
There are specific injuries and health conditions that can also result in abnormal swelling. If you are suffering from this tight discomfort, there are several effective ways to help increase blood flow activity while also giving you necessary vein support. Here are some things to keep in mind when researching just how to combat your injured or swollen limbs.
Most commonly, compression socks and sleeves are worn regularly amongst avid travelers, athletes, and patients with varicose veins, edema, and other such conditions. These garments are comfortable to wear and relatively inexpensive. They help to keep your limbs adequately compacted and prevent water retention and loss of proper circulation or reinjury as your extremity heals.
Compression socks work as a replicated muscle which adds helpful and necessary pressure to an affected area. It pushes fluid out by squeezing the leg tissues and forces the body to take advantage of deeper, narrower blood vessels for improved circulation. This process is what helps to mitigate and control swelling and prevent blood from pooling. The socks are typically designed to provide gradual constriction from the ankle or bottom of the limb to the top, helping to put pressure on the area that needs it most and drive circulation back towards the heart.
If you need a bit more rigorous treatment, compression therapy via electronic compression machines is a great in-home option. Compression machines feature cuffs to wrap around your leg(s) with tubes connected to a portable device that lets you control the amount of pressure they apply. The cuffs inflate and deflate to squeeze the legs at intervals of your choosing.
In addition to promoting better blood circulation, this type of compression has also been shown to stimulate amino acid production for tissue repair and cue the release of endorphins (feel-good hormone). As blood is pushed up the legs back towards the heart, so is fluid in your lymphatic system, helping to clear out built up toxins and waste by-products in your body’s tissues.
Depending on your physician or physical therapist’s recommendations, you can start gradually or jump into a particular regimen of daily compression sessions. Some may have you wear the device for 10-20 minutes each day and see how your symptoms lessen and the health of the limb increases. Compression machines vary by size – some cuffs may cover just your knee to your ankle while others will wrap around your entire leg and foot. You can find compression machines online or often at your local pharmacy or big box store.
Compression for muscle soreness and fatigue
In addition to boosting circulation, compression machines may also be used after an intense workout or game to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. When your body is tired from strenuous physical activity, compression garments and compression machines can provide a pain-relieving alternative to over-the-counter pain relievers and ice baths. Compression aids while you work out can also provide mechanical pressure to key tissues and joints, supporting stronger movement, potentially preventing injuries, and circulating more oxygenated blood to your muscles.
Many athletes swear by compression gear and speak adamantly about how compression socks and sleeves actually improve their performance. This is especially true of athletes that often perform a lot of lateral movements such as jumps and leaps. More specifically runners who specialize in hurdles, basketball, and volleyball players have also touted improved performance when wearing compression garments.
Compression garments especially provide added comfort and support to people who wear them, whether they are marathon runners or flight attendants. They can also help to prevent the chafing and friction that is often associated with vigorous physical activity and sweat.
If you are looking for a natural, pharma-free way to promote better circulation in your body and ease delayed onset muscle soreness from high-intensity physical activity, talk to your doctor today about how compression can benefit you.