Category Archives: Foot and Leg Health

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.
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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thanksgiving Travel Tips for People with Health Issues

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Halloween is over, which means we’re exchanging jack o’lanterns for turkey and pumpkin pie.  The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner!  Thanksgiving weekend is known for being one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  According to AAA, last year 46.3 million Americans packed their bags and journeyed at least 50 miles away from home to spend the holiday with family or friends.

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.

Foot Health Tips for National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.  As many diabetics know too well, diabetes can be very dangerous to your feet.  Because of reduced blood flow, injuries may be harder to heal, and infections harder to resist.  Nerve damage may reduce feeling to the feet making it hard to notice irritations leading to blisters developing.  Taking good care of your feet is one of the keys to staying healthy.  See the tips below adapted from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

  1. Get periodic foot exams – Seeing your physician on a regular basis can help prevent many of the foot complications related to diabetes.
  2. Inspect your feet daily – Check your feet for cuts, blisters, redness and swelling. Contact your doctor if you notice any of these or other irregularities.
  3. Wash your feet in lukewarm water, not hot, and with a soft washcloth or sponge – Only lukewarm water should be used, but feet should be washed daily. A soft washcloth or sponge will prevent irritation or injury.  Gently pat dry with a soft towel.
  4. Moisturize, but not in between toes – Daily moisturizing will keep skin from itching or cracking. Avoid moisturizing between the toes, however, as this can encourage fungal infection.
  5. Keep nails trimmed – Cut your toenails carefully and straight across. File any edges and avoid cutting nails too short, which can lead to ingrown toenails.
  6. Don’t treat corns or calluses yourself – Self “surgery” is not recommended, nor is the use of medicated pads. Visit your doctor for any of these issues.
  7. Avoid smoking – Smoking restricts blood flow, which will increase the chance of damage to your feet.
  8. Keep shoes clear of debris – Foreign objects, no matter how small, inside of shoes can be a major source of irritation. Always inspect shoes before putting them on.
  9. Keep your diabetes in check – Watch your blood sugar levels and keep them in control.
  10. Never walk barefoot – Always wear shoes or slippers, even at home. Doing so will prevent injury from scratches or cuts.
  11. Always keep feet warm and dry – Don’t let your feet get wet in snow or rain and always wear warm socks and shoes in the winter.
  12. Wear socks to bed – To prevent cold feet during the night, wear your socks to bed. Avoid using heating pads or hot water bottles.
  13. Wear clean, dry socks – Be sure to change them daily.
  14. Avoid wearing the wrong type of socks – Avoid tight elastic bands. Thick or bulky socks can fit poorly and irritate the skin.  Try SmartKnit Diabetic Socks.  Our socks are seamless and form fitting, which help to prevent blister-causing pressure points.  Moisture wicking fibers keep feet dry reducing friction, which can cause irritation.

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

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Avoid DVT During Spring and Summer Travels

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March is DVT Awareness Month, and with spring and summer travel just around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to remind you of this danger involved in traveling.  So, what is DVT?

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DVT stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis, or for those of us that aren’t doctors – blood clots in the deep veins, usually the calf or thigh muscle.  DVT can damage the valves in your blood vessels, causing pain and swelling.  But, more dangerously, blood clots can break free and travel through the bloodstream and damage major organs – most specifically the heart and lungs.  This is a condition known as pulmonary embolism.  Blood clots in the deep veins in the thigh muscles are the most frequent culprits of pulmonary embolism.

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How does this relate to travel?  Long trips in cars, trains, buses and most especially planes can increase your risk of developing DVT.  Blood flows more slowly when sitting immobile for long periods of time in cramped spaces, and gravity plays its part in making it more difficult for blood to adequately move around the body.  Slow moving blood pooling in the legs is a breeding ground for clots.

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Although the risk of developing DVT while traveling is small, the risk is real and travelers should take precautions – especially if they are at higher risk.

DVT Risk

What can you do to prevent DVT while traveling?

  1. First and foremost. Wear compression hosiery like travel socks from Therafirm.  Therafirm makes a Men’s Dress Sock, a Women’s Trouser Sock and a Unisex Everyday Sock.  All of Therafirm’s compression hosiery is graduated.  Compression hosiery must be graduated to be effective in preventing DVT.  Gradient compression pressure helps to promote blood flow and prevents blood from pooling in the legs.
  2. Keep moving. If you are taking a car trip, make frequent stops.  For plane, bus or train trips, get up and move around every so often as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
  3. Exercise your legs. Bend and straighten your legs several times every half hour to hour.  This helps to avoid blood pooling.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Water will help keep your blood thinner and less likely to develop clots.
  5. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol contributes to dehydration, which thickens the blood.

Prevent DVT

No one wants their travel to include a stop at an emergency room or hospital, so take the necessary precautions to prevent DVT.  Pack your Therafirm travel socks and enjoy your DVT-free vacations!

** NOTE: Always consult your doctor before using any of the practices for avoiding DVT.

4 Tips To Get Your Legs Ready For Summer

Summer is fast approaching and especially after such a harsh winter, your legs could certainly use a little TLC. Arm yourself with these four tips to get healthier, younger looking legs so you can wear your favorite summer dresses, skirts and shorts with confidence!


Summer Ready!


1) Exfoliate and Cleanse. We lose 30-40,000 skin cells every day. You can imagine how important it is then, to exfoliate and cleanse daily. For smooth, clean skin, exfoliate by adding a small amount of baking soda to your shower poof while taking a hot shower.

2) Moisturize. Exfoliating can dry your skin out so be sure to moisturize afterwards. For extra soft legs, add a dime-sized amount of baby oil to your favorite lotion or moisturizer.

3) Simple Exercises. To get shapely, toned legs, simple cardio exercises do the trick. To reduce muscle fatigue and stay dry, consider wearing compression legwear like Core-Sport. While you’re waiting to get those legs toned, try soft, cool shape-wear like GOGO by Therafirm.

4) Sunless Tanner. Sunless tanning lotions can help create the illusion of younger, toned-looking legs. They can also help cover up splotches and pesky cellulite. Don’t opt for the tanning bed. Instead, use a sunless tanning solution that doubles as a moisturizer to keep legs looking and feeling hydrated.


What is your go-to for getting your legs ready for summer? Share below!
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*This is only general information and is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Always consult your physician or other health care provider about all health concerns, conditions, and recommended treatments.