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Graduated Compression

First you need to understand how the circulatory system works, to enable a better understanding of how graduated compression hosiery works.

The Heart pumps the blood that is to be circulated around your body. The Arteries carry the blood away from the Heart and the Veins carry the blood returning back to the Heart. Veins have quite a bit of work to do when it comes to getting the Blood back from the outer extremities, such as your hands or your feet, as it needs to work against gravity, going up the arms or up the legs, and back up to the Heart again.

Your Veins are helped by the movement in your muscles, to help squeeze back the Blood through the Veins, that does not mean that when we sit still, our blood circulation stops! But certainly during long periods of immobility, such as long haul flights, or being in a wheelchair or in Hospital (to name a few examples), the blood circulation could certainly be affected.

A Vein is made up of tiny valves that open and close; if you can imagine a long corridor as a Vein and there are lots of sets of double doors (which are the valves) along the length of the corridor. When your muscles are contracted, this squeezes the Vein and the valves open up, letting Blood pass through to the next set of valves, and so on, until the Blood travels back to the Heart.

Problems may only start to occur, when blood flow becomes more stagnant, such as those times when we are not able to move as we normally would (like afore-mentioned examples). When it is more difficult for the Blood to circulate and it is having trouble travelling through a valve, the Blood may pool behind the valve beneath it, which puts more of a burden on it to move the stagnated Blood, and then it becomes weak. Then the valve before that has the extra burden of Blood, and that then becomes weak, and so on.

Vein Diagram

So after all that, what does the graduated compression hosiery do to help it? Well the hosiery is made with a gradual pressure that starts with most squeeze at the ankle, which then gets less and less squeeze, the further up the leg you go. During times when your muscles are unable to work in conjunction with your Veins, you can then wear a pair of graduated compression socks, for example, which works to keep the blood circulating effectively. Graduated compression hosiery helps exert the pressure needed on the veins to keep the Blood passing through all the sets of double doors, and so helps to prevent the pooling effect behind the valves.