No longer just for grandma, compression socks have become a staple of the long-haul packing list. Adopted by canny flyers everywhere, the socks are worn as much for their comfort as they are for their ability to prevent DVT and leg swelling. With a family history of blood clots and a dread of “cankles” (swollen ankles), I agreed to try a pair of Bridgedale compression socks on my recent twelve-hour flight to South Africa.
How compression socks work
Compression socks are used to help circulation and prevent the formation of blood clots in the lower legs. This is achieved by using stronger elastics to create more pressure on the legs, ankles and feet. Compression socks feel tightest at the ankles and become less constrictive towards the knees and thighs. By compressing the surface veins, arteries and muscles, circulating blood is forced through narrower channels. Arterial pressure is increased which in turn causes more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet. On flights of four hours or more, compression socks can significantly reduce the risk of DVT and leg swelling
Who needs compression socks?
According to the NHS, compression socks should be worn by those with:
a history of DVT or pulmonary embolism, Cancer, Stroke, Heart disease, inherited tendency to clot, recent surgery, obesity, pregnancy HRT or those who experience leg swelling.
Bridgedale compression socks review
Bridgedale is famed for its technical socks which use fusion technology to combine high quality yarns with high performance microfibers. With over 500 products and over 40 years’ experience, they certainly know their socks.
Arriving at Heathrow, I’m amused to overhear a conversation between two American couples who “would never travel without their compression socks.” Curious to test them out, I slink off to the ladies to slip them on. Made from thick, black wool, they’re not the sexiest items that have ever adorned my legs and they instantly transport me back to school days.
Hopping around in the cubicle, I finally managed to yank them up to the knee. But once on, they feel immediately cool, comfortable and dare I say it somewhat slinky. Appearances are indeed deceptive. The elastic under the knee feels initially tight but the sensation wears off after a few moments. With compression socks, size is everything. If the socks slide down, bunch up or feel uncomfortably tight, the sizing or compression is wrong. It’s therefore essential to try them on before you fly.
Settling myself into my cramped economy quarters, I stretch my feet out for the twelve hours ahead. Managing a record five hours sleep, my legs and feet remained cool and comfortable throughout the flight with no restrictive sensations. Did the socks help to prevent DVT? It’s impossible to say but I do know that they were extremely comfortable and every bit of comfort you can get while cooped up in economy is worth its weight in gold. And I’m relieved to report that there were no cankels to greet my arrival in Cape Town.
Compression socks were provided free of charge to reivew by Bridgedale.