Support stockings – for what purpose?
Who can benefit and what do you need to know
Support stockings - useful, but ugly? Not at all. A lot has changed since the days of grandma's ugly «elastic stockings». Today's stockings are not only very fashionable, they also support the return of blood to the heart.
So what do you need to be aware of if you want to buy support stockings? What exactly is meant? And: are compression stockings and thrombosis stockings one and the same?
Support stockings for prevention
To be quite clear: support stockings and a support pantyhose are not the same as compression stockings or thrombosis stockings. The most important difference: support stockings are used to prevent venous complaints and are intended specifically for people with healthy veins. They prevent the legs from becoming heavy and tired when standing or sitting for long periods of time as the blood pools in the veins. A special category of support stockings are the so-called travel stockings - as the name already suggests. Longer trips, especially on airplanes, increase the risk of tired, heavy legs as well as the risk of swelling in the lower leg. You can prevent this by buying and wearing support stockings. Support stockings provide a gentler compression effect without a controlled pressure gradient. Sizing is largely based on height, weight, or shoe size.
Compression stockings in venous disorders
Medical compression stockings are intended for people who suffer from moderate to severe venous disorders or lymphatic congestion. They have a precisely controlled pressure gradient which decreases upwards, thus preventing blood from pooling in the lower legs. When in motion, they support the so-called «calf muscle pump». In this process, the muscles in the lower leg ensure that the leg veins are compressed so that the blood can be pumped back up to the heart. If you wish to buy compression stockings, you can have them professionally fitted at a specialized retailer, e.g. a pharmacy, medical supply store or specialist orthopedic store. The size is based on the leg length and the leg circumference.
Thrombosis stockings for bedridden persons and following surgery
The third common type of medical stockings, the so-called antithrombosis stockings or ATS stockings, also referred to as thrombosis prophylaxis stockings, may be familiar to you from hospitals - where they are encountered most frequently, or from nursing homes. These types of stockings are generally white with an opening at the ball of the foot or at the toes so that the physician can check the circulation of blood. Size is calculated based on the length of the leg and the circumference. It is important to note that these stockings are only appropriate when bedridden. Support or compression stockings are recommended when standing or sitting. The cost of ATS stockings is usually included in the hospital costs.
Why buy support stockings?
The gentle compression provided by support stockings is helpful in a variety of life situations. For example, leg discomfort can be alleviated or prevented in the evening. They also provide support for venous return during pregnancy. And when it gets warm in the summer, they prevent swelling of the legs. They also reduce the risk of thrombosis. Therefore, they are particularly useful for air, train, bus and car trips lasting longer than 4-5 hours, as well as in situations that require prolonged sitting or standing, for example, at work.
Support pantyhose and compression stockings - also beneficial for pregnant women
During pregnancy, the risk of thrombosis is increased considerably for a number of reasons. For one, during pregnancy the walls of the veins dilate due to higher progesterone levels, and at the same time blood volume is increased significantly. Simultaneously, blood clotting is accelerated and it is not uncommon for pregnant women to have to reduce physical activity. Therefore, a special compression pantyhose, supporting pantyhose with a special bodice, are particularly suitable for the prevention of such complications. In everyday life, and especially when traveling or sitting or standing for longer periods of time, this ensures comfortable compression of the entire leg, which not only reduces the risk of blood clots, but can also prevent tired, swollen legs and the development of varicose veins.
Where can one buy support stockings?
Although support and travel stockings are now available in department stores, it is still a worthwhile option to go to a specialist retailer. Whether you go to a pharmacy, medical supply store or specialist orthopedic store - you will receive expert advice there. This way you can be sure that you are choosing the right type of stockings or pantyhose to suit your needs. In addition, these retailers have experienced staff to help you with sizing and fitting. And last but not least, specialist retailers can provide you with competent advice on which stockings may be covered by health insurance.
Medical stockings are … attractive?
If you browse online, you will quickly discover that today's support and compression stockings are anything but old-fashioned and ugly. Quite the contrary, they are available in the most cheerful colors, beautiful patterns and comfortable materials. With many models, there are no limits to the imagination. The new designs are not only comfortable to wear, but also so fashionable and chic that hardly anyone would think that they are compression stockings. Whether you are attending a business meeting, traveling or having a long day at work, attractive support stockings will help blood flow back to your heart in all situations.