If you’re looking for a high quality sock that provides professional support for health and medical needs, one of the terms that you may have heard used in reference to these higher grades of sock is “graduated compression.” On first glance, that sounds more like a technical term that tire experts might use in relation to automobiles. In actuality, it plays a very important role in your comfort if circulation is an issue you need to keep an eye on, especially in your legs and feet.
So what is graduated compression, and what does it do for you?
The first thing we need to look at is what compression itself is, and how it relates to a sock. Compression, which is featured in some of our own products like our copper compression socks, means that physical force is exerted through the fabric to squeeze whatever is placed into it. In the case of socks, this means that a real but gentle pressure is being applied to all parts of the leg and foot that wear a sock.
So why would this be a good thing?
The reason is because of circulation. Circulation is largely dictated by pressure, although normally the primary source of pressure is the pumping of your heart, sending blood throughout your body to wherever it needs to go to deposit oxygen to cells that need it and pick up carbon dioxide to carry away to the lungs. However, circulation is not 100% efficient. Most people already see this in colder weather when they realize they have to wear thick socks on their feet and gloves on their hand.
These parts of your anatomy, being your extremities and thus furthest away from your heart, experience the weakest circulatory pressure compared to other parts of your body. That’s one reason why your hand or foot can go numb and “fall asleep” as you apply pressure to certain parts that interferes with healthy circulation. That weaker circulation is also why these parts of your body feel cold first before other parts do.
Compression helps with people that need more specific circulation needs. It adds additional pressure to your foot and lower legs, helping to force the blood “up” and out of your feet, back into your thighs. However, graduated compression, as the name implies, is “gradual.” The amount of force at your feet is actually greater than the force of compression on your shin.
With this specific application of graduated compression, more force is efficiently applied to get circulation at your feet into your shin, where there is less pressure thanks to the weaker forces of the sock at that point. However, because it is still a compression sock, even that pressure at the shin helps to push the blood further up into your thigh and back into the larger portion of your circulatory system.
In this way, much better, healthier circulation for your feet is achieved. That doesn’t just help your feet, but your whole body.