Do thigh compression sleeves work?
I am all for wearing compression product. I am an active runner, and I go to the gym regularly. For me recharging my batteries and recovering as quickly as possible is key in order to really go at it when I am in the gym. I have an office job, so I sit multiple hours a day. Both my parents have horrible varicose veins, and I see some small spider veins appearing on the inside of my thighs. Normally I would start panicking, but I have been wearing compression socks and sleeves on multiple days to the office. So I have the empirical answer to the question: Do thigh compression sleeves work?
Well, in my experience the answer is a resounding yes. They help with blood circulation, muscle recovery after running and varicose veins. They prevent ankle swelling and deep vein thrombosis if you travel for several hours on a plane.
What is the difference between compression socks and sleeves?
There is not much difference between them, they both help your blood circulation through the positive effects of compression technology. However compression sleeves don’t cover your full feet. They are rather like tubes, leaving more wiggle room for your toes. Compression socks put pressure on your whole foot, aiding circulation more, but they don’t let your feet breathe as much. The only thing to look out for when choosing compression products is that sleeves cover a smaller area of your feet. Thus if you have circulatory problems in your toes, or your whole feet, then compression socks might be necessary to get the job done. You can read more about the differences between compression socks and sleeves here.
What are thigh compression sleeves?
There are different ways to classify compression sleeves. One is how high they reach on the legs. Based on this we have foot sleeves, these only cover a part of your foot. The second type of sleeves are knee high compression sleeves, these reach up to your knees. The third type if thigh high compression sleeves, which – you have guessed it – end up at your thighs. These models use a rubber or silicone band at the top to stop from wiggling.
Is one of these types better than the other? Do thigh compression sleeves work better than ankle or knee sleeves? Well, just on the compression front none is better than the others. The golden rule is to use the smallest sleeves that cover the problem area in full. So if you suffer from calf cramps, it is enough to use knee high compression sleeves.
How do thigh compression sleeves work?
Thigh high compression sleeves achieve their positive effects by speeding up blood flow inside the veins. The veins are responsible for circulating blood lacking in oxygen and nutrients back to the heart from the extremities.
Thigh high compression sleeves put pressure on the legs from one end of the sleeves up to the other. This pressure tightens the veins. This makes the job of the small valves inside the veins easier, they can circulate the blood for longer. Due to the pressure the diameter of the veins decreases. This makes the blood flow quicker. The waste materials leave the muscles quicker, and they also get oxygen and nutrients quicker. All of the positives of compression technology are due to this process.
What does the science say: Do thigh compression sleeves work?
There were many studies done to examine the effects of compression garments on lower body blood flow. One study examined the effects of lower body compression stockings on elite wheelchair rugby athletes. Blood flow in the legs increased significantly. Interestingly there was also a little increase in upper body blood flow too.
Another study done in 2016 examined the effects of compression stockings on lymph flow. Pressure in the legs improved significantly, lymph flow increased and the edema patients in the study got a lot better.
Another study done in 2017 examined the effects of calf compression sleeves on athletic performance and recovery during outdoor trail running. The study found that compression sleeves improved muscle oxygen uptake significantly. Also achilles tendon pain decreased significantly as well as muscle soreness.
Even though these studies didn’t involve thigh compression stockings exclusively, we have no reason to believe that we wouldn’t find the same effects on thigh high sleeves.
The point of this article was to answer the question: do thigh compression sleeves work? With the scientific evidence as well as my own experience, it is clear that thigh high compression sleeves improve blood circulation, and achieve all the health benefits associated with them.