Compression stockings

What are compression stockings?

The compression stockings are a medical aid centerl both in the therapy as well as in the Prophylaxis one thrombosis to support venous blood flow. For certain reasons, the blood composition can also change the flow ratio in the venous vessels of the legs, so that the blood flow from the periphery of the legs towards the heart can be disturbed. Those affected then suffer Pain, complain about swollen legs or the increased occurrence of Varicose veins.

In this case the compression stockings can be used as the first therapeutic and non-invasive measure be used as they can alleviate symptoms in a simple way. Since blood flows back to the heart against gravity, the body's mechanisms must work well for transport to work.

Worth mentioning in connection with the compression stockings is the so-called Muscle pump to stabilize blood circulation. Since the veins have no muscles or cannot actively contract to carry the blood on, they are dependent on other mechanisms. The muscles can do this work, as the venous vessels run deep down in close relation to the muscles and are also compressed by their contraction.
The fasciae of the muscles, i.e. their sheaths or possibly a bone, are used as abutments. Together with the Muscle pump and the Venous valves to prevent blood backflow, is a Transporting the blood upwards possible.

Compression stockings support exactly this mechanism by, as the name suggests, compressing the vascular system act and prevent the blood from sinking. The compression stocking puts pressure on the leg from the outside and is considered a kind of abutment. Thus the Promotes blood circulation.

In addition to the venous blood system, the mechanism also affects the lymphatic drainage system off because the lymph must also flow from peripheral to central. So the compression stocking is a elastic stocking which must fit so tightly around the leg that the leg tissue is compressed.


Varicose veins are an indication for compression stockings.

The indication for compression stockings is usually aimed at one of the following aspects: Compression stockings are used as a therapeutic measure for the treatment of thromboses, varices (varicose veins), open legs and lymphedema. Compression stockings are also helpful with lipedema.

For prophylactic reasons, long flights, standing or lying down for long periods of time, for example after an operation or sporting activity, can make it necessary to wear compression stockings.

Depending on how severe the symptoms are or how high the risk of one of these complaints is, the length of time the compression stockings are worn can vary, as can their material thickness. The indication can therefore be made individually with the selection of different compression stockings with different thicknesses.

Read more about the topics:

  • thrombosis
  • Thrombosis prophylaxis
  • Varicose veins
  • Lymphedema of the arms


The division of compression stockings into different classes is based on how strong of the pressure exerted on the leg tissue by the stocking. This means that compression stockings can always be prescribed in variable thicknesses as required.

Overall, one differentiates 4 classes: moderate with pressures of 18-21 mmHg, medium strength (23-32 mmHg), strong (34-46 mmHg) and extra powerful (at least 49 mmHg). The classification is based on the different compression pressures, but also allows a classification of the indications according to class.

Those patients who complain of a feeling of heaviness with slightly pronounced varicose veins will get the Compression class I. prescribed. Further criteria are the absence of edema and as a prophylactic against varicose veins during pregnancy.
The medium-strength stockings, well Class II become necessary with increasing symptoms, i.e. that it comes to the development of varicose veins with simultaneous edema formation. Also in the therapy of deep vein inflammation (Thrombophlebitis), Ulceration or after surgery due to varicose veins, Class II compression stockings are prescribed.
The compression stockings of the Class III are serious Edema formations, secondary varicose veins, extreme skin changes, recurring ulcerations and severe venous insufficiency are indicated, as only higher compression pressures have an effective effect on these symptoms.

The last Class IV with pressures of at least 49 mmHg represent the last possible instance of compression stocking therapy. The indication is therefore limited to therapeutic aspects and less or not at all to prophylactic measures.
The Lymphedema with extreme swelling and edema require compression pressures of the Class IV.

Putting on compression stockings poses a problem for some patient groups, as they are extremely tight and become less and less elastic with increasing class. For these cases there is special dressing aids. There is also the possibility of adding up the pressures by placing two stockings of a lower class on top of each other.

Of course there are different sizes and lengths, so that the fit can be individually selected depending on the leg circumference / leg length. Those affected should be aware that the compression stockings are the Promote blood circulation and decongesting have the effect that the prerequisite for getting dressed is that the legs are “emptied” / unblocked. The compression stockings can Only maintain the condition or act preventively; are therefore not an active medical aid. Active emptying requires other measures beforehand.

Compression stockings for sports

There are many positive aspects to wearing compression stockings while running.

While running, the muscle pump is active and promotes blood flow back, but other factors can nonetheless make it necessary to wear compression stockings or one positive effect on athletic performance to have.

Due to the compressing effect of the stockings, an obvious effect is to prevent swelling of the legs due to water retention. Compression stockings are becoming increasingly popular in sports, especially because of the following two aspects:
On the one hand, the Leg muscles with more oxygen and nutrients are supplied via the arterial vascular system.
On the other hand, there is a notable one Reduction of sore muscles.

The improved oxygen supply comes about because the pressure through the compression stockings offers a certain resistance, which accordingly less has to be applied by the muscles (in the sense of the muscle pump). As the muscles increase in diameter less, the arteries have more space to expand. With that goes a increased blood flow with consequently better oxygen supply hand in hand. The second aspect is based on the theory that the compression stockings can absorb the smallest movements in the form of shocks or vibrations during sport. These are i.a. cause of the smallest lesions in the muscles, which ultimately manifests itself as sore muscles.
Since compression stockings also have one positive effect on the Regeneration of muscles you should not take them off immediately after exercising but keep them on in order to support the regeneration phase and fully exploit the functional effect of the compression stockings.

It is important to know that the compression stockings do not have as high pressures as the therapeutically indicated stockings. Thus, the wearing comfort is a lot higher and the stocking is not perceived as restrictive.

To wash

The material used for compression stockings is very pleasant these days, both in terms of comfort and ease of care. Usually it is elastic materialwhich also breathable and air permeable is. Since the compression stockings are worn regularly and are tight-fitting, despite the special material, that cannot be avoided Odors or sweat be raised. Therefore the compression stockings should be cleaned every now and then. Fortunately, the stockings are easy to care for and thus washable. The exact number of degrees at which the compression stockings are washed depends on the product and Manufacturers individually look up. It is important that the stockings after washing well dried are before they are used again. Compared to the past (wool mixed with elastic material), the material of today's compression stockings is a lot more robust, as it is mostly synthetic fabrics acts. Of course the compression stockings are not indefinitely. After about five months Even the well-made material will lose its elasticity.

Compression stockings on the plane

The compression stockings are supposed to support the blood circulation of the venous vessels and prevent the blood from sinking in the periphery of the legs. Exactly these properties are at Long haul flights required so that people with existing thrombosis, Varicose veins or increased risk you should definitely wear compression stockings for those diseases. The reason for this is that the long seats and the limited legroom the mobility is reduced to a minimum and thus the supporting system of the Muscle pump is omitted.

Without the external pressure through the compression stockings, there is an increased likelihood for risk groups that the blood will back up and not be adequately pumped from the periphery to the heart. Apart from severe swelling then exists the Risk of pulmonary embolism. It is a closure of pulmonary vessels by a Blood clotswhich has formed and loosened in the depth of the leg veins and is then pumped into the lungs via the heart. Due to the reduced blood flow and mobility during a flight, the formation of such a blood clot is much more likely. risk groups should therefore be worn for prophylactic reasons.

Compression stockings at night

As a rule, the compression stockings are only worn during the day. The Wearing time can be customized depending on the severity of the symptoms vary. Mostly are at least 8 hours a day indexed. At night, the stockings can be left out, as gravity has less influence on the blood flow in a lying position than if you walk or stand for a long time during the day.
Should at night If you experience slight discomfort, it already helps most of those affected To raise the legs with a pillow to support the blood flow from the periphery towards the heart.

The inpatient stay is an exception after an operation . Here the Compression stockings continuouslyexcept when showering or washing. The reason is that patients after an operation long bed rest and are partially completely immobile. The risk of thrombosis and pulmonary embolism is too high for it to be sufficient to wear compression stockings for a few hours a day.