As anyone who has experienced foot pain knows, the feet are an integral part of human movement. We rely on our feet for stability every time we stand, walk, run, or rise from a seated position. Discomfort in this region can affect our biomechanics and cause structural misalignments, especially when we favor one foot over the other.
Addressing foot pain is important, yet a number of different factors may contribute to soreness in the feet and ankles. Inflammation, a common cause of foot pain, can be particularly hard to treat. Compression therapy provides a powerful tool to minimize the inflammation that leads to plantar fasciitis and other painful conditions. In addition, compression socks help to reduce swelling, which can cause soreness in the feet, ankles, and lower legs.
What Is Inflammation?
When tissue becomes injured, inflammation is part of your natural immune response. Inflammation can happen anywhere in your body and, when it functions properly, it protects you from the spread of infection. Sometimes, a normal inflammation response fails to subside even after it has served its purpose. Foot pain is often linked to chronic inflammation from small muscle tears.
As an example, plantar fasciitis pain results from inflamed microtears in the band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes. Injury to the plantar fascia, along with ongoing irritation, is particularly common in runners. If you ignore plantar fasciitis, the inflammation may continue to worsen causing serious problems, including chronic pain, scar tissue, and kinetic chain dysfunction.
Reducing Inflammation in the Feet
Compression socks help to reduce inflammation in two ways. First, they improve your economy of movement and postural stability, helping you to prevent microtears from forming. Second, wearing compression socks has been shown to hasten recovery after exercise. This means that, when microtears do occur, they will be less likely to set off a nonresolving inflammation response.
Overuse injuries are known to occur with repetitive demand, and they can be made worse through training errors and poor technique. An efficient stride and good balance can help prevent damage to your muscles and bones.
Several studies provide evidence that compression socks may contribute to a better stride and improved posture. For example, research has underscored that compression socks can prevent bad form in inexperienced athletes. According to researchers, compression socks "significantly alter" running kinematics for novice runners. (Jefry et al. Abstract) Outside of athletic pursuits, scientists have also observed that compression socks have a positive impact on balance and posture when standing. Experimental measurements of ankle muscle reflexes show that compression socks actually improved postural stability for study subjects (Espeit Abstract).
By using compression socks to improve your stride and posture, you may be able to avoid the overuse injuries that would otherwise lead to pain and inflammation.
A well-documented benefit of compression therapy is the impact on your body's ability to recover after exercise. Normally, your body releases enzymes like lactic acid and creatine kinase when you work out. These organic compounds cause considerable pain, but they are normally harmless. When you wear graduated compression socks, you help your body to eliminate these enzymes more efficiently, reducing post-workout pain and hastening muscular recovery. Research shows that athletes who wear graduated compression stockings after a workout exhibit significant differences in blood lactate levels compared to those who do not (Berry Abstract).
Studies also demonstrate that athletes who wear compression garments perform better after a workout compared to athletes who don't use compression. Improvements in performance have been observed after a 24-hour recovery period (de Glanville Abstract), after a two-week recovery period (Armstrong Abstract), and even without any time for recovery at all (Higgins, Kraemer). A review of scientific literature concludes that there is strong evidence that compression socks work to reduce muscle pain, damage, and inflammation after a workout (Engel Abstract). Compression socks promote healing and recovery, and they may alleviate chronic inflammation.
For this reason, many people turn to compression socks to eliminate the root causes of foot pain, including heel pain from plantar fasciitis.
Reducing Edema and Lymphadema
Certain medical conditions, such as lymphedema and peripheral edema, cause your veins to leak excess fluid into your surrounding tissues. This swelling can cause considerable pain and discomfort, especially in the feet and lower legs. Compression socks are one of the first-line treatments for the aches and pains that come from edema and lymphedema. Doctors also prescribe graduated compression socks to help prevent edema and lymphedema from developing in high-risk populations, including pregnant women.
Eliminating Painful Symptoms of Venous Disorders
Venous disorders can sometimes cause uncomfortable symptoms that affect your feet. These symptoms may include blisters, varicose veins, and blood clots. By wearing compression socks, you lower your risk of vascular issues that cause foot pain, and you promote the healing of blisters caused by venous disorders.
General Pain Relief
There are many different kinds of food pain. Compression socks will not alleviate pain from a broken bone or a bunion. That said, men and women of all ages wear compression socks because they improve overall blood flow.
Doctors often prescribe compression therapy to boost vascular health, especially for people who experience swelling in the lower extremities without a clear medical cause. Optimal blood circulation can minimize the everyday aches and pains caused by standing or sitting for long periods of time.
If you want to reduce muscle soreness from poor circulation, look for a pair of compression socks that offers:
- Gentle arch support
- Breathable, high-quality fabric
- Graduated compression
- Moderate or mild compression strength (15-25 mmHg)
- A knee-high design
For many Comrad customers, the relief they feel is immediate. Compression socks often provide an inexpensive remedy for unexplained foot pain, enabling you to feel better right away. Not only does compression therapy address circulation problems and swelling, but it can also soothe the pain caused by chronic inflammation in some cases.
Wearing compression socks, like our 15-25 mmHg Companions, might work to reduce your painful symptoms today. By preventing health issues from worsening, compression socks could help you feel better tomorrow, as well.
Berry M.J., McMurray R.G. "Effects of graduated compression stockings on blood lactate following an exhaustive bout of exercise." American Journal of Physical Medicine, Vol. 66, Iss. 3, 1987, pp. 121-132, https://europepmc.org/article/med/3605315.
de Glanville, Kieran M., and Michael J. Hamlin. “Positive effect of lower body compression garments on subsequent 40-kM cycling time trial performance.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 26, iss. 2, 2012, pp. 480-486, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22240553/.
Engel F.A., Holmberg H.C., Sperlich B. "Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing?" Sports Med, vol. 46, iss. 12, 2016, pp. 939-952, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0546-5.
Espeit, Loic, et al. "Effects of compression stockings on ankle muscle H‐reflexes during standing."Muscle Nerve, vol. 55, 2017, pp. 596-598. https://doi.org/10.1002/mus.25455.
“Foot Pain Causes.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 13 Mar. 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/foot-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050792.
Hasan, Hosni, et al. “Compression and Texture in Socks Enhance Football Kicking Performance.” Human Movement Science, vol. 48, 2016, pp. 102–111., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2016.04.008.
Heideman, Andrew. “Plantar Fasciitis Complications.” JOI Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, JOI Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, 13 Nov. 2019, www.joionline.net/library/show/plantar_fasciitis_complications/.
Higgins, Trevor et al. “Effects of wearing compression garments on physiological and performance measures in a simulated game-specific circuit for netball.” Journal of science and medicine in sport, vol. 12, iss. 1, 2009, pp. 223-226, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18078789/.
Jefry, Muhammad Hanis, et al. “The Effect of Compression Socks on Running Kinematics in Experience and Novice Runners.” Enhancing Health and Sports Performance by Design, 2020, pp. 333–340., https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-3270-2_35.
Kraemer, WJ, Bush, JA, Bauer, JA, Triplett-McBride, NT, Paxton, NJ, Clemson, A, Koziris, LP, Mangino, LC, Fry, AC, and Newton, RU. "Influence of compression garments on vertical jump performance in NCAA Division I volleyball players." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol.1, iss. 3, 1996, pp. 180-183, https://insights.ovid.com/strength-conditioning-research/jscr/1996/08/000/influence-compression-garments-vertical-jump/9/00124278.
Nathan, Carl, and Aihao Ding. “Nonresolving Inflammation.” Cell, vol. 140, no. 6, 2010, pp. 871–882, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2010.02.029.