One of the best ways to combat discomfort in the legs and feet caused by diabetes is by consistently using compression socks. Now that you have ordered your compression socks, let’s make sure you get the most out of them. We will help ensure that you wear them properly to get the maximum amount of relief, and care for them correctly so they last as long as possible.
When to Wear Compression Socks
The goal of compression socks is to apply consistent pressure to the lower extremities, preventing numbing, swelling, tingling and burning sensation associated with long periods of standing and walking.
With that in mind, you want to wear these compression socks throughout the day when you plan to be standing or sitting with your legs down for 2-3 hours or more. Typically compression socks have maximum benefit when a person is standing or sitting upright, as it helps return blood to the heart and helps negate some negative effects of gravity (pressure).
Since the amount of pressure is minimized while a person is lying in bed, there is not much benefit to wearing compression socks while asleep. It would be better to prop one’s feet up on a pillow at night.
You could also remove your compression socks if you are sitting at home in the evening with your legs elevated on an ottoman, for example.
How Compression Socks Should Feel
When it comes to how the compression socks should feel, you are looking for:
- Pressure to be applied evenly throughout the calf and ankle while not being so tight above the calf that you are cutting off circulation.
- Make sure that there is no bunching and no seams that are pressing against your skin above the ankle.
- The only acceptable seam should be around the toes and should not be uncomfortable to wear shoes with.
The Simple Way to Put On Compression Socks
- Reach into the sock, and grab the toe.
- Turn the upper half of the socks inside out.
- Put your foot into the toe of the sock, and gently slide the sock over your heel. Then use your fingertips or palms to “slide” the socks up your leg.
- Smooth out the stockings so they lie flat against your skin to avoid bunching. Don’t fold or roll the tops down, because that can make them too tight.
Quick Tip: You also want to make sure you never pull the sock up from the top. This could cause stretching and the sock can lose some of its compression abilities.
Quick Tip: If you have a hard time reaching down and/or touching your toes or have hand pain, we also offer a tool called the Sock Assist, which is a great way to put on those compression socks without straining your back.
How to Put On Compression Socks Using the Sock Assist:
Place the sock assist into your sock. Make sure the heel of your sock is at the back of the sock assist. For support hose, be sure to spread the hose over the sock aid evenly, without “bunching.”
- Hold the sock aid by the straps with both hands. If one leg is weaker or injured, do this leg first. While holding the straps, drop the sock aid to the floor in front of the foot on your weaker leg.
- Slip your foot into the sock assist. Then pull on the straps to pull the sock aid onto your foot.
- Pull until the sock is up your leg. Keep pulling until the sock assist comes out of your sock.
- Follow the same steps to put a sock on the other foot.
Now let’s talk a little bit about taking care of your socks.
Caring For & Washing Your Compression Socks
Compression socks are different than regular socks. Compression socks use nylon, cotton, and spandex for a tight, elastic fit. The stretchy quality does not stand up well to harsh washing and drying conditions. With that said, the best way to wash your compression socks is by hand washing.
If you don’t have a pair of compression socks for each day of the week and need to speed up the washing drying process, we’d suggest using your washing machine on delicate mode, with your socks inside Delicate Laundry Washer Bags like these.
Compression socks should be washed after a day of wear. It is important to wash the socks after each wear because they stretch out after staying on a person’s legs for several hours, and the washing process can help “reset” the fit.
Washing Your Compression Socks by Hand
- When hand washing the socks use cold or slightly warm water and very delicate detergent.
- After allowing the socks to soak for a few minutes, scrub the socks gently together, without stretching the material while scrubbing.
- Rinse the socks in a sink filled with cool water or run cool water over the socks.
Machine Washing Your Compression Socks
- Always use the delicate or hand-wash cycle along with a delicate detergent.
- Cold water helps the socks shrink back to their original size after stretching out during wear. Don’t use hot water, which causes excess shrinkage and helps the fibers begin to loosen and fray.
- Also ensure you are using Delicate Laundry Washer Bags as they keep your compression socks from too much contact with the washing machine or other rougher materials.
Drying Your Compression Socks
- The safest option by far is to air-dry your compression socks. This makes sure that there is not excess shrinkage of your socks due to the heat from the dryer.
- Immediately after washing your compression socks, wrap the socks in a towel and press excess water out of the socks. This is especially important when hanging the socks to dry. The weight of soaking-wet socks can stretch them out while drying, but hanging them after removing as much water as possible does not cause extra stretching.
- Another option is to dry the socks using the permanent-press/delicate, low-heat option on your dryer. Keep socks inside the Laundry Bags to prevent them from tangling and stretching.
We hope your compression socks help to relieve foot & leg pain caused by diabetes!
Remember, compression socks help relieve symptoms, but do not help the root problem of diabetic neuropathy. If you are looking to transition to natural ways of lowering your blood sugar levels and prevent damage, check out the Free 21 Day Jumpstart Challenge (you might even have some fun and make new friends inside the challenge, too!)
Meg is the co-founder of Smart Diabetes Solutions. She is passionate about clean eating and helping Smart Diabetes members create their best selves.