I Wore Compression Socks for a Month, and Now I Can’t Live Without Them

I always thought compression socks were for the elderly. And they're definitely not sexy, but I'm going to say flat-out that they changed my life.

Thanks to my stubborn genes, I have edema, or chronic swelling in my ankles. As if cankles weren’t bad enough, varicose veins made an appearance in my forties (thanks to genetics and three pregnancies), with a side of restless legs syndrome (RLS) thrown in just to seriously mess with my sleep. Wait, there’s more… Before I turned 50, I had to pee at least twice, sometimes three times, a night. This is annoying enough at home, but when you love camping, it’s downright exhausting to get out of a sleeping bag, unzip the tent, and walk into the dark unknown to find the toilets. I’m not big on popping pills, so I decided to do my own research on possible natural remedies for RLS. I read about nocturia (the fancy term for having to pee frequently at night) on the Cleveland Clinic site,  and it said that compression socks could help people like me. I looked into this further and found that the Urology Care Foundation also recommends compression socks for relieving nocturia. Ugly or not, I had to give them a shot.

Ugly, but oddly comfy

I ordered graduated compression stockings, which means the compression is strongest at the ankle and gets lighter up the leg. I’m not going to lie: When I pulled them up my legs, I instantly felt like I was 90 years old (no offense to my dear grandmother). They were also really snug, and I was worried that they would cut off my circulation and leave me passed out on the floor.

But during the next few hours, I noticed that my legs felt oddly comfy in the compression socks. They felt stronger and didn’t ache as much. Great for daytime, but what would happen that night when the usual heaviness and “urge to move” set in my legs? I took the socks off after dinner and settled in to watch TV. I was shocked that I didn’t have to get up and move around or do heel raises to alleviate the “urge to move” in my legs!

I didn’t have to pee as much at night

Next up: the nocturia test. I did get up to pee that night, but only once, and at my age, that’s normal. I woke up the next day refreshed for the first time in a long time. Could this just be a placebo effect?

I wore the socks for the next 29 days with the same results—when I didn’t forget to wear them. Early into the 30 days, I forgot to wash my socks and boarded a cross-country flight without wearing them. The “urge to move” in my legs was unbearable, and I didn’t want to keep troubling the people in my row to get up and walk the aisles. I should have worn the dirty socks! Not long after that I took a long road trip to a camping and hiking destination and thankfully wore my socks. Big difference! No “urge to move,” and only one potty break.

My circulation headed in the right direction

Turns out that the compression socks gave my poor circulation a boost in the right direction—as in, away from my ankles and back up to my heart, increasing blood flow to all my vital organs. The stockings can also help prevent blood clots.

Now that I’m going to be wearing compression socks on the regular, I’ve graduated from the fugly, beige variety and found a plethora of more colorful, more flattering styles. If you’re considering checking them out, stick with a 15 to 20 mmHg for mild symptoms, or consult your doc before trying socks with greater compression.

MORE: Did you know that there are certain foods and spices that will also boost your blood circulation?

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Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer and writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and Realtor.com., among others. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.