Compression Wears are steeply surging in popularity all across the world. Demand is evidenced by a wide spectrum of brands pervading the market. Uses and applications are intrinsically wide. Besides using them for medical and therapy purposes, compression garments are adorned for physical activities and sports. Fundamentally for sports, it is not only performance enhancement that is being sought but focus is also on 2 other vital areas – those being injury prevention and injury treatment & rehabilitation.
Compression science traces its roots to as far back as the Neolithic period which spans 4,500 to 7,000 years ago or 5000-2500 BCE. Etchings of soldiers with bandaged lower extremities were found in caves in Tassili, in the Sahara. Mechanical compression for legs can be seen in the Edwin Smith Papyrus dating back 1600 BCE. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (460-370 BCE) treated leg ulcers with tight bandages and this was described in his Corpus Hippocraticum. Galen (130-216 CE) used wool and linen compression bandages to prevent blood from pooling in the legs. Later on in the 4th century CE, Oribassius applied compression by light bandages to treat leg ulcers. During the Middle Ages compression bandages were used for therapy and to treat enlarged veins of the legs. This can be traced back to the works of Avicenna (980-1037) and descriptions and writings of Giovanni Michelle, Ambrosie Pare, Girolomo Fabrizio and Guy de Chauliac – stretching from the 1300s to the 1500s.
In the 1600s William Harvey discovered the influence of external pressure on venous stasis. Back then they used various materials to vary upon compression pressure. These included elastic bands, laced stockings, cellulose fibres from cotton, coconut and silk; and synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon and acrylic. In the late 1800s when German phlebologists Fisher and Laskar discovered that external pressure can help treat blood clots in the lower legs that compression stockings were prescribed for treatment of deep vein thrombosis.
In our modern era, compression wear was further developed upon to treat swelling disorders as in the case of lymphedema or chronic limb swelling. This was followed with application for vascular issues. Graduated compression stockings with their highest compression at the ankles and tapering off towards the knee were prescribed for varicose veins; and to prevent blood clots in bedridden post-surgery patients. Soon this encapsulated sports and reaching its fervent today.
Compression socks create pressure across various one-way valves in blood vessels. Frequent air travellers are advised to wear compression stockings to reduce the risk of DVT or deep vein thrombosis – and especially during long flights. Pressure differentials between the ankle and knee help blood flow back towards the heart thus countering the effects of gravity and helping to prevent blood from pooling in the veins.
Some Medical Conditions Needing Compression Therapy:
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Economy class syndrome (ECS)
Chronic venous insufficiency