If you are recovering from a surgical procedure, participating in a running race, taking a long flight or have a job that requires you stand for long periods of time, compression therapy can help your body recover. Compression socks, stockings, pantyhose and bandages help move blood up your leg towards your heart.
Compression therapy falls into two main categories: medical and performance. Although both categories frequently use the same products, the outcome and purpose are often vastly different.
Medical compression garments are typically used to aid with issues or deficiencies relating to the veins or to aid the recovery from minor and major surgical procedures. Most medical compression garments and devices are prescribed by a physician and have a specified degree of compression.
Compression socks are the most common medical compression garments. They are frequently used to prevent deep vein thrombosis (blood clots deep within the body) when flying and to reduce fatigue from standing or working on your feet for long periods of time. Compression socks are also used to limit pain and discomfort from varicose veins.
Another common use of medical compression therapy is in post surgical recovery, such as Achilles Complex surgery or circulatory related surgery. Many people use devices such as Game Ready and Cold Rush systems and compression to decrease recovery time and get back to activity sooner.
Performance compression garments are used to increase the connection between the mind and the muscle, and increase an individual’s abilities before, during and following activity. Performance compression is seldom prescribed by a physician but it is frequently recommended by physiotherapists and athletic therapists
Performance compression can greatly aid in running activities – from compression socks which aid in distance activities to calf sleeves which minimize the effects of shin splints. Performance compression can also be beneficial in the gym as it increases physical performance and decreases muscle soreness. Knee sleeves and elbow sleeves help with lifting, squatting and pressing movements and compression shorts reduce hip and hamstring discomfort.
Like medical compression, performance compression can also be used to aid in recovery, with devices such as Game Ready and Game Legs.
If you think compression therapy could help you return to activity or improve your performance, speak with your family doctor and ask for a referral to a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. Compression garments are only effective if they fit properly. A Canadian Certified Pedorthist will determine which compression garment is appropriate for you and will professionally fit it.
By Steve Stredulinsky C. Ped (C) Calgary, Alberta