How Compression Works
Before we explain how compression socks and sleeves work, let's first review the basics of how blood flows through the body. It all begins in the heart, which pumps blood containing oxygen to our extremities and muscles though arteries. Once the cells use the oxygen and other nutrients, the deoxygenated blood, lactic acid, and other waste products enter the veins to get taken back to the heart. This process is repeated over and over once the blood returns to the heart and is oxygenated again.
The more oxygen the cells have, the better they will function. This is why it is so important to keep oxygenated blood flowing to the muscles. During exercise, the body produces lactic acid as a waste product. This lactic acid needs to be removed from the muscles, otherwise it can cause soreness and decreased performance.
Compression socks and sleeves provide graduated compression: in other words, they provide the right compression in the right places. The compression will be tighter at the foot and ankle and gradually looser from the lower leg up to the calf. This type of compression decreases the effects of gravity and helps the body return deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
Medical studies have shown that using an optimal, consistent level of compression causes the walls of the arteries to dilate, thus increasing blood flow through them. The end result is more oxygen and nutrients flowing through the body. Compression also constricts the walls of the veins, which helps to increase the speed of blood flow through them. This decreases the time it takes for deoxygenated blood and lactic acid to return to the heart, which can help speed up recovery and decrease muscle soreness.
To sum up the benefits of compression: Enhanced performance through increased blood flow, which leads to quicker recovery and decreased muscle soreness.