You know those socks little old ladies wear?
The ones that reach right up to their knee?
They’re supposed to help with varicose veins and circulation. You know, old lady things.
Which makes me ashamed to admit…
I wear them, too.
Thank You, Serena!
If it weren’t for Serena Williams, I don’t think I’d ever had the courage to come out and admit I love compression socks.
But when Serena rocked the sports world by wearing a full-body compression suit at the 2018 French Open—which was then banned—she opened a discussion about the medical and athletic benefits of compression garments.
The fashion world saw a skintight black catsuit, but Serena explained she’d had a pulmonary embolism after having her daughter. The compression suit helped to protect against any more blood clots and improved her circulation.
Physical therapist Melissa Abellanida agrees that compression garments can be of great help following surgery. “To me,” she says, “Serena Williams was using the catsuit as a medical device.”
Like Serena, I needed compression when I had my daughter. My feet had swelled so badly that the only shoes that fit were my partner’s sneakers—with the laces loosened.
The compression socks given to me by the hospital were white with holes on the ball of the foot. I got rid of them as soon as I could. So ugly!
But there was one thing I had liked about them…
They kept my legs warm.
My legs got achy at night. Wearing warm socks seemed to make them feel better. So I got a pair of fuzzy knee-high socks to wear to bed, grateful that no one but my immediately family would see me.
What Compression Socks Can Do for You
I thought that was the end of my relationship with compression socks.
But one day I was at a party when I saw a friend take off her boots to reveal sexy knee-high socks. These socks were almost as fashionable as her boots. They were thick, ribbed, and had a jazzy stripe down either side.
My friend explained that they were compression socks. She wore them because she was on her feet all day. They kept her legs from aching so much.
So I did the research and discovered that compression socks can do so much more than I realized.
- If you’ve got poor circulation, compression socks can help blood flow so you don’t get dizzy or light-headed.
- If you’re on a long-haul flight or spend a lot of time flying, compression socks prevent leg clots.
- If you’re an athlete, compression socks can improve recovery time and reduce the risk of injury.
I even discovered that compression socks are positively Neolithic. No joke—images of soldiers with their legs wrapped were found in cave paintings dated thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Even those august founders of Greek medicine, Hippocrates and Galen, used tight leg bandages to treat patients.
Would compression socks do anything for me, I wondered?
So I borrowed my friend’s socks and wore them for the day.
How I Fell in Love with Compression Socks
The first thing I noticed was how warm they were.
It was the dead of winter, and I’m a cold-feet kind of person. It was like adding an extra layer to my legs with none of the bulk.
When I really noticed them was when I slipped my feet into my winter boots. My boots go up to mid-calf, and usually they’re a snug fit. With the compression socks on, I felt like my legs were rattling around inside my boots with space to spare.
But none of those things were enough to convince me I should get a pair…
Until I went running.
I’m at that age where arthritis is becoming a problem. I’ve been hard on my body, especially my knees, and my joints are reminding me that I can’t pound on them as hard as I used to.
So my doctor recommended knee braces to keep my knees warm while I ran.
The knee braces worked, especially on those freezing days where my skin turned red from the cold.
I discovered that compression socks worked a lot like my knee braces. They kept my calf muscles warm, so that the cold didn’t pierce through quite so badly. I also wondered if the compression socks would help me avoid straining my calf, something I’d done on a number of occasions.
I started checking out the socks of fellow athletes passing me on the trail. I spotted a fit, healthy young man with compression socks just like mine. They didn’t look old-ladyish. They looked positively sporty. Were compression socks the new essential sportsgear for athletes?
When I got home, I went on Amazon and ordered myself a pack.
These days, I don’t just wear my compression socks on the trail. I wear them at work. I love them on cold days when my muscles usually get stiff.
Do they make me look like an old lady?
Well, I prefer to think they make me look like Serena Williams. An elite sportswoman at the cutting edge of fashion.