Who Can Benefit From Gradient Compression Garments

Gradient compression garments are used to increase blood circulation and reduce swelling in those with circulation disorders and can also assist in athletic performance. Gradient compression socks, for example, apply the greatest amount of pressure near the ankle and decreases as it extends up the calf, stopping under the knee cap. Athletic gradient compression garments, usually made of spandex, offer support all over the body using the same principles to provide structural support. Athletes also use them as a recovery aid. That doesn’t mean that they are only meant for the athletically inclined.
corespun-white

Medical Uses

Gradient compression garments are often used in hospitals where patients are very sedentary. After an operation, sedentary patients are at risk of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. This is a condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein. DVT normally forms in the lower leg but can also occur in other parts of the body.  According to the UK National Health Service, an untreated DVT can lead to a pulmonary embolism in 1 in 10 of those affected. Pulmonary embolisms occur when the clot breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. The clot can block the blood flow to the lungs which can cause a patient to have trouble breathing, experience chest pain and lose consciousness. If not treated, it can lead to serious complications and even death.

Other conditions where the use of compression garments may be prescribed may include varicose veins (swollen and enlarged veins usually in the legs), skin ulcers, and lymphedema (painful swelling of the lymph nodes.) According to WebMD, gradient compression socks or stockings should be worn at all times except during bathing and sleeping to improve blood flow and problems such as blood pooling in the legs.

Patients may have concerns over whether their health insurance may cover gradient compression stockings. Many insurance companies will cover them if they are considered medically necessary. Patients should always call their insurance company to check if they are covered. Aetna Healthcare lists several conditions that the company considers gradient compression garments to be medically necessary including: Lipodermatosclerosis, Stasis dermatitis (venous eczema), Varicose veins (except spider veins), and Venous edema.

Athletic Performance

CSP-Female-Socks-Black

Gradient compression sportswear has several options for athletes including shirts, sleeves, shorts, socks, tights, and more. These garments are often used by athletes such as runners and basketball players to improve circulation and decrease the amount of time that they need to spend recovering. Wearing gradient compression sportswear post-game or activity can also benefit athletes in the same manor.

Gradient compression garments are also likely to help anyone who needs assistance with improving and maintaining circulation. Those at risk of clots in the legs, especially those who are bedbound for a time after surgery, will benefit from wearing compression garments the most. People at risk of deep vein thrombosis, and subsequently a pulmonary embolism, should discuss with their doctor whether compression stockings will help. You don’t have to be an athlete to get the added benefit of gradient compression clothing so the first step is learning more about how you can benefit from the health tool everyone should have.

The Subtle Style and Obvious Benefits of Gradient Compression Socks

Whether you are an athlete with a high training volume, someone who struggles with lymphedema, or just have achy legs from time to time, gradient compression socks are a tool that may greatly improve your quality of life. The “gradient” in the name means that the compression is “designed to deliver a controlled amount of pressure which is greatest at the distal end (ankle) of the garment and gradually decreases towards the proximal end (top) of the stocking.” This stimulates blood flow and helps prevent pooling in the feet and ankles.

corespun-white

Gradient Compression Socks for Athletes
While gradient compression socks work well for general aches, they can speed muscle recovery by improving circulation. This can be great for those who run or cycle long distances, as well as those who strength train. Increasing blood flow to muscle tissue can speed muscle recovery and relieve post-exercise pain.

Additionally, some runners prefer to wear gradient compression while running, as it can reduce muscle vibration and improve blood flow. They come in a variety of colors, styles, and can be a great way to tie together your running outfit or stand out in a race. Feeling great and looking great have been combined in a sleek package.

TheraSport

Gradient Compression Socks for Those With Lymphedema and Venous Issues
Lymphedema is a condition that can be alleviated to a great extent by increasing circulation and promoting healthy blood flow. Gradient compression socks encourage the flow of lymphatic fluid back out of the affected leg(s), which can help improve your symptoms and reduce associated pain. Compression socks are useful for many venous disorders, including venous insufficiency, varicose veins, and venous ulcers. Pregnant women who wear them generally see a reduction in leg swelling and the discomfort during pregnancy as well.

Gradient compression socks don’t look like medical devices, so others will be none the wiser about your use of these socks, weather for medical purposes or just a comfortable part of your wardrobe. You can choose subtle tones that blend in with your day-to-day wear, or you can choose brighter colors that stand out.

While wraps or bandages can be used for a similar effect, patients who use them need to make sure they are creating an appropriate pressure. This can be somewhat tricky and time-consuming. With gradient compression socks, simply wearing them as normal socks without any special arrangement will be enough to provide you with the scientifically designed compression.

15-20-SheerEase-KneeHigh-Natural

Gradient Compression Socks for General Achiness
While gradient compression socks are recommended by physicians for certain circulatory issues and can be beneficial for athletes, they also are helpful for those who experience chronic aches and pains in their legs. This is especially true for those who spend much of the day standing. Because gradient compression socks help promote proper circulation, wearing them can reduce discomfort. They fit easily under clothing, so they are compatible with most work uniforms.

Gradient compression socks offer a convenient way to manage pain and discomfort associated with leg circulation. However, they also are an option with style – you can choose from a variety of colors and lengths making it easy to incorporate into any outfit. When you choose gradient compression socks, you the benefits of a medical device without looking like one.

ease-microfiber-tights-black

Injury Recovery and Prevention Tools Everyone Should Be Using

Competitive athletes and recreational exercisers alike want to avoid injuries, as even a setback from a relatively minor injury can be extremely inconvenient, stressful, and potentially expensive. The good news is that there are plenty of things everyone can do to prevent injuries. Many of these tools and techniques double as recovery enhancement for those who do find themselves injured. Below are four easy and inexpensive ways to avoid (or treat) injuries, regardless of chosen athletic pursuit.

Foam Rolling

The humble foam roller is a tool that has been around for decades, and it’s been around that long because it works. Foam rollers work via myofascial release, which essentially means that it massages out muscle tension built up that is limiting mobility and helps with blood flow. Foam rollers help to work out “knots” in the muscle, as well as general tightness after a workout.

Foam rollers come in a variety of surfaces – some have smoother surfaces, while others have bumps, grooves, or ridges. Foam rollers with bumps act like hands to “knead” the skin and muscle tissue, which can boost circulation. Some people find the bumps uncomfortable and prefer the smooth foam rollers, but either choice is useful for optimizing muscle performance and speeding along muscle recovery.

Gradient Compression Clothing

therasport-blue

Compression wear is common across multiple athletic disciplines because it can reduce muscle vibration, making exercise more comfortable. Compression wear can also be helpful for healing injuries. Gradient compression wear is especially helpful for stimulating blood flow, which can speed the healing of an injury as well as speed recovery from a grueling workout. Gradient compression socks, like TheraSport and Core-Sport by Therafirm have more pressure at the ankle than the calf, which stimulates blood flow from the feet to the rest of the leg. Wearing compression gear after a workout for recovery or during a workout can help to both treat and prevent injuries, but gradient compression will help further facilitate blood flow as well.

Stretching Straps

Most athletes are well-acquainted with the idea of stretching, but stretching straps, which are designed to help get a deeper stretch, can help with recovery from workouts and keep muscles limber enough to prevent injury. For those who have a given muscle group that is chronically tight, it may help to find stretching routines using straps. Additionally, stretching straps are designed to help eliminate the need for partner stretch assistance.

Ice and Heat

Heat and ice are some of the oldest tools for treating injuries (as well as trying to prevent them), but some newer innovations like shin wraps allow anyone to conveniently ice or heat injuries or suspected injuries while walking around or doing other things. Heating pads and traditional ice packs also work well, and when used effectively, can help reduce healing time or relieve chronic pain.

While sudden injuries can happen to anyone, making use of one or more of the above tools can significantly reduce anyone’s chances of injury. Best of all, the above tools are affordable and easy to integrate into any athletic routine. By using one or more of the above methods, both serious and casual athletes should be able to continue to train hard with a reduced risk of injury.

Spring Tips for Diabetics

It’s spring and time for us to start emerging from the indoors and embracing the outdoors again.  And naturally, that means some changes in our day to day lives, especially for diabetics.  But, following a few simple tips can help navigate the downside to spring, so that we can focus on all the wonderful aspects of this season of renewal.

Allergies

Many people think there is precious little you can do to prevent allergies, but there are actually a lot of things that can be done to help any allergy sufferer.  A great thing you can try are HEPA air filters, as well as a HEPA vacuum cleaner.  A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, can trap pollens, dander and other allergens.  Another way to keep allergens out of the house is to wash window screens, or better yet, resist the urge to open them up.  Enjoy the outdoors when you’re outdoors, but keeping your home as allergen-free as possible will give you a refuge when you’ve had enough.  An allergy sufferer should also wash their hair and body at the end of each day to wash away the pollens before going to bed.  Wash clothing items that are typically not washed as often (like shoes or jackets) more often.  Finally, you can use a saline rinse to clear nasal passages of allergens.

n-ALLERGIES-628x314.jpg

Diet

Spring is a great time to do a little spring cleaning of your pantry and diet.  Clear out old, expired and stale food.  Restock your staples with healthy options like brown rice, whole grain pastas and beans.  Warmer weather also opens our options up to include more fresh foods.  Try whole food options instead of processed foods.  Whole foods are a much healthier option.  We borrowed a few recipes from Diabetic Living Magazine (See below).  These recipes are great additions to any meal plan.

fresh-food-initiative-2

Exercise

It’s time to get moving! Spring air feels really great and really moving after a long winter staying indoors feels great, too!  Walking is a great cardio workout.  Be sure to check your blood sugar levels before and after a workout.  You’ll start to see how a little good exercise will help you to be healthier all around.

Visit Your Doctor

Think of it like Daylight Savings Time being a good reminder of checking the batteries on your smoke detector.  Spring is a great time for an overall checkup with your doctor.  You’ll want to speak to your doctor about your diet and medications and how they affect you.  Ask the doctor the examine your feet to help maintain good foot health – an important factor for diabetics.  Don’t forget to schedule a checkup with your dentist and eye doctor, as well.

Ready for spring?  You should be now!  Bring it on, Spring!

1803_SK-RecipeCards-Blog

1803_SK-RecipeCards-Blog2

Nine Winter Safety Tips For Seniors

From last bomb cyclone on the east coast and subarctic temperatures in the middle of the country to this week’s snow and ice storms in the Midwest is safe to say that winter and its dangerous conditions is upon us.  Winter can be treacherous enough the fittest and most able among our population, but can be especially bad for the most vulnerable among us.  Senior citizens can be more at risk for a number of hazards during the winter and it’s important to protect seniors against those hazards.  Here are a few important things to remember this winter and every winter.

Elderly-woman-trying-to-keep-warm-by-the-fireside

Image courtesy of mirror.co.uk

Icy and Snowy Conditions

We are all at risk of slipping and falling in icy and snowy conditions, but seniors should take extra care as they are usually more prone to fracture, as well as more difficulty in recovering from injuries.  Seniors should stay in whenever they’re able to avoid the ice and snow.  But, when you must get out, do so with great care.  Make sure to wear a pair of good shoes with traction and non-skid soles.  Avoid sidewalks and walkways that have not been salted or sanded properly.  And always remove your shoes once you go back inside.  Snow and ice that melts off your shoes can lead to slippery conditions inside.

Cold Temperatures

When the temperature drops below freezing, be sure to adequately bundle up.  All parts of your body should be covered whenever you go outside, as frostbite is a real possibility.  Areas most at risk are nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes.  Frostbite can happen very quickly, so limit the amount of time you are outside in below freezing temperatures.  People with heart disease and other circulation problems are at a higher risk for frostbite, so be sure to wear your Therafirm compression socks to help your circulation.

Hypothermia is another risk of the cold temperatures.  When your body temperature drops to a dangerous level.  This can happen inside or out!  Keep the heat at a comfortable level and dress in layers when inside.

Wintertime Depression

As you can see, winter conditions make it safer to stay at home.  But, this can lead to winter depression from isolation.  Family members should call and check in on their senior family members often.  You can also arrange a calling tree among your friends and neighbors.  Each person call the next person on your list to make sure everyone in your circle is doing okay.  Don’t forget to add people to your circle that may not have other family.

Keep the Maintenance on Your Car Active

Seniors should avoid driving in hazardous conditions if at all possible.  Aging can lower reaction times which need to be at peak performance during ice and snow driving.  But, you’ll want to keep your car well-serviced in the event that you do have to be out in the elements.  Ensure your car has plenty of antifreeze and wiper fluid.  Check the wipers to ensure they can adequately keep the windows free of precipitation.  And, check the tires regularly.  Colder temperatures can affect the air pressure in tires.  You’ll also want to make sure the tires have plenty of tread or change them out for snow tires.  It’s also a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car that includes: a first aid kit; a warm blanket; booster cables; a windshield scraper; shovel and a flashlight.

Power Outages

It’s important to be ready for whatever the winter throws at you.  And sometimes that means power outages.  Make sure you have easy access to flashlights, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, and plenty of blankets and some non-perishable food.  If the power goes out during cold temperatures, layer up with your clothes and move around as much as possible to keep your body temperatures up.  If the outage lasts very long, you will want to arrange for a good, warm place to go until the power is restored.

Winter Time Diet

It’s easy to become Vitamin D deficient during the winter time – especially for seniors.  Be sure to have this checked with your doctor.  You can take a Vitamin D supplement, as well as eating foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, yogurt, egg yolks and tuna.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Fires

Another winter time danger is the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.  Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide dangers, as well as warming up your car in unsafe conditions.  Always make sure that if you’re warming up your car, your garage door is open and the tailpipe isn’t blocked.  Also, be careful with space heaters, fireplaces or stoves.  Keep them clear of curtains, furniture or blankets and don’t leave unattended.

Shoveling Snow

Shoveling looks easy enough, but it is truly grueling and back-breaking work.  If you have a heart condition, shoveling can put too much strain on your heart.  It can also be dangerous for those with weak bones or problems with balance.  The best suggestion is to hire a service to shovel for you.  Or, even a neighbor kid on a snow day.

Avoid the Flu

They say the flu is bad this year, and as with many other winter hazards, unfortunately seniors are more at risk of developing influenza.  The flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent the flu.  The CDC says that it is especially important for people over 65.  Even in years where the shot is less effective, it still reduces the chances of getting flu.  And if you end up getting the flu anyway, it can lessen the symptoms and duration.

Winter hazards are not fun for anyone, but are especially dangerous for our senior citizens.  But, careful planning and consideration can help seniors weather even the worst hazards.

Tips for Winter Runners

One thing that I’ve noticed about runners is that runners always run . . . no matter what. The dark of night, the blazing heat of summer, rain, snow – it doesn’t matter, runners run . . . always. Now that winter is truly upon us and the temperatures continue to dip below freezing and even into single digits in some areas, runners are still running. So, it’s important for runners to stay safe in the frigid air and winter conditions . Here are a few tips for winter runners.

Image courtesy of phillymag.com

  1. Talk to your doc.
    Cold air in the lungs can make breathing more difficult in those that already have breathing difficulties, like asthma or emphysema. Or, the cold might exacerbate other medical conditions that you may have. When in doubt, consult your doctor to ensure that winter running is safe for you.
  2. Plan ahead.
    Plan your route to ensure that it is safe. You’ll want to stay away from areas that are especially icy or roads where snow hasn’t been plowed. Also, make sure that someone always knows your route and when you’ll be back. If you run into trouble, your designated person will know to take appropriate action.
  3. Stay close to home.
    If you decide to go for a run while it’s snowing, icy or exceptionally windy, evaluate how long it takes you to return home. Running in cold weather is more demanding and you’ll want to pace yourself and keep pretty close to home in the event that your feet get wet, you start sweating or become exhausted.
  4. Slow down.
    This isn’t the best time to work on speed. Snow and ice can cause treacherous conditions and you may slip and fall. A slower pace will help to identify dangerous areas quicker. Use the sidewalks and plowed roads if possible. As always, run in well-lit areas and dress in reflective clothing if running at night.
  5. Don’t overdress!
    Brrr! I know it’s cold out, but you won’t need quite the winter garb that you would normally. Sweating is the worst thing you can do in cold temps, because it can increase your chances of hypothermia. When you first get outside, you should feel a little cold. Once you get going, you’ll warm up.
  6. Be mindful of your circulation.
    The circulatory system controls the flow of blood through your body. Poor circulation is always a risk when spending time outdoors in cold temperatures. When you’re exposed to the cold, it causes a change in blood circulation. Blood flow to the extremities is reduced to help maintain your core body temperature, which protects your internal organs, but creates a dangerous situation for your body.

Core-Sport and TheraSport by Therafirm gradient compression socks and sleeves can help improve your circulation.  Both Core-Sport and TheraSport have moisture-wicking materials that will help keep your feet dry and warm during your run.  Thicker and heavier Core-Sport is available in black, grey and white, while lighter weight TheraSport is made in black, white, red, blue and pink.

True runners are going to keep running all winter long. Follow these tips to stay safe and healthy this winter.

Holiday Travel Tips for People with Health Issues

dv2073187
Photo courtesy of http://getawaytips.azcentral.com.

Thanksgiving weekend is known for being one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  According to AAA, 48.7 million Americans are expected to pack their bags and journey at least 50 miles away from home to spend the holiday with family or friends this Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving weekend travel can already be stressful due to the sheer numbers of fellow travelers, but travelers with health issues may experience extra stresses.  So, if you’ll be among America’s travelers in a few weeks, follow these travel tips to help you have a smooth and happy holiday trip!

  1. Pack Your Medications– The last thing you need is to be far away from home and not have your necessary medications. Whether you pack them first or last, don’t walk out the door until you’ve checked your medications off your list.
  2. Pack Snacks to Control Your Glucose and Monitor It– Make a pack of snacks that will help you control your glucose level. Make sure you can access it easily or that someone else could easily get to it.  Bring your glucose monitors and pack them close to your snacks.  Monitor your glucose levels as often as you would at home.
  3. Pack Insurance Cards and Other Documentation– No one wants to have a visit to a doctor or emergency room while out of town, but it’s best to be prepared in case it does happen. With the proper cards and documentation, you can better focus on getting the treatment you need, instead of insurance red tape.
  4. Plan Out Time Zone Changes– If you’re going to be in more than one time zone, plan your snacks and monitoring accordingly. Also, ensure that you’ve accounted for time zone changes when taking medications or monitoring glucose levels.
  5. Pack Insulin or Other Temperature-Dependent Medications So That It’s Kept Cool Until Reaching Your Destination– You can use a wide-mouthed, insulated, non-breakable bottle or thermos to help keep your medications cools. Fill the bottle ice or cold water before hand to cool it.  Then empty the bottle, dry it and place your medications inside.
  6. Get Plenty of Sleep– It’s important to get plenty of sleep – even extra sleep – before a big trip, but especially if you are dealing with health issues while traveling. Go to bed early before a trip, or take a nap before leaving.  Be sure to get good sleep during the trip, as well, so that you’ll be in good shape when traveling back home.
  7. Put Medications and Other Necessities in a Carry-On Bag– Carry all medications and any other necessities in your carry-on bag. Just in case your luggage is misplaced, you won’t want to be without your necessities.  You can always buy another toothbrush!
  8. Pack Lightly and Use Luggage with Shoulder Straps or Wheels– If you suffer from arthritis or other health problems, you won’t want to over exert yourself. Make sure to pack as lightly as possible, so you have less to carry.  Bags with comfortable shoulder straps or wheels will also help.
  9. Wear and Pack Comfortable Clothing That’s Easy to Get On– Comfortable clothing will make you comfortable all around, especially if it will be awhile before you can change. Wear Seamless Socks from SmartKnit to help keep your feet from getting irritated.  Or if you’re at risk for DVT, Compression Travel Socks from Therafirm will help prevent this dangerous condition.
  10. Pack Any Arthritis Aids You Regularly Use– If it’s something you use regularly, bring it, even if you think you won’t use it.
  11. Carry Cash– You will want to have cash for situations like tipping luggage assistants or toll payments.
  12. Inform Others of Your Condition– Inform TSA agents, flight attendants or any other officials of your health conditions. They’ll be more likely to be helpful and also to watch for changes in your condition.

Remember at the end of the road is that special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.

** Note: Tips are not meant to replace medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor.