In my arsenal for foot health, I have used both compression socks and plantar fasciitis socks at times. Both types of socks are forms of compression, but each have unique differences. The benefits of both are great for runners and athletes of all sorts, as well as, those who have jobs that keep them on their feet all day.
So really is there a difference?
Yes, but it depends on what you need!
BENEFITS OF COMPRESSION
-Provides Great Compression Therapy -Compression socks/plantar socks provide a very effective compression therapy through aiding in blood circulation to your feet and legs throughout the day. Their snug fit helps keep the foot stable, and especially the plantar socks are good at keeping the plantar fascia ligament stretched. Wearing both of these, (not at the same time) overnight can bring healing through increased circulation to sore and tired muscles. -Ease of Use -Both types of socks are conveniently easy to wear all day and night not intruding on socks worn over the foot, or intruding with wearing shoes. This also helps avoid having to wear bulky night splints that would, perhaps, interfere with normal sleep patterns and positions.
COMPRESSION SOCKS VS. PLANTAR FASCIITIS SOCKS
-Graduated Compression -A lot of these socks will provide graduated and zoned compression, targeting certain areas of the feet and calves that need a certain amount of compression in a particular place. -Reinvigorates the Legs -Wearing these throughout the day helps keep legs energized with the added circulation, and legs often feel less tired by the end of the day after having worn them. I love the energized feel as I wear these socks throughout the day. -Beats Restless Leg Syndrome -Ok, so this might be just me, but I have found them extremely useful once I feel restless leg syndrome is starting. I can slip them on, and within ten minutes, it feels like it has gone away. -Helps Prevent Varicose Veins -These socks will help reduce most pooling of blood, which is a lead cause of varicose veins (again it is the increased circulation thing). -Promotes A Faster Muscle Recovery -By having a better circulation of oxygen, this will help reduce the lactic acid build up. This is especially beneficial to athletes and runners (link to shoe post about runners).
What to Look For In Compression Socks:
So I believe many brands of compression socks are all about the same. Some are made of different materials, but most are a personal preference. So what to look for? First, I would say, look for compression socks that have graduated compression, as this really targets your feet and legs better than generalized ones. The other big difference is the actual compression rating. The higher the rating the firmer the compression. I personally feel you should go for something around 20-25mmHG, as this is a moderate to firm compression, and I believe provides better compression benefits than those of lesser compression. Compression socks come in all colors and patterns so find a pair that fits your personality and personal style, then enjoy wearing them!
Plantar Fasciitis Socks
-Snug fit -This helps with feet stability. A good plantar sock will really help support ankles as well. -Stretches the Plantar Fascia -While these socks may not be as good as a great pair of running shoes in providing arch support, these socks work at keep the plantar fascia (link to what is Plantar fasciitis) stretched while being worn. This in particularly useful during the night, so you might not wake up with the incredible morning pain that is usually associated with plantar fasciitis. -Has Uncovered Toes -Ok, so this looks weird, but I can wear another pair of socks over these. As a whole, PF socks usually are to be set right on the balls of the feet leaving the feet uncovered. This gives compression right at a specific target zone. -Aids in Healing the Plantar Fascia -This is maybe the biggest difference, in that these socks are designed to promote blood circulation to the plantar fascia, which helps promote faster healing. Faster healing means you are waking up to a lot less pain way quicker than without these socks. Compression socks do not target the plantar fascia, generally, so this sock is better for this particular ailment.
What to Look For In Plantar Fasciitis Socks:
Granted, these socks look weird. But it is important to find socks with the toes cut off, because that actually gives a better compression right at the base where the plantar fascia connects to the balls of the feet. Most of these socks are quite similar except for design and fit. So find a pair that is comfortable to you. You are looking for a sock that you feel great compression on the arch of your feet, knowing that it is working to stretch the plantar fascia out. Also, a good pair should provide you with added ankle support over regular socks.
If you do not have plantar fasciitis, you do not need these socks. But if you are a runner, someone on their feet all day, or are starting to get varicose veins, I would look into a few good pair of compression socks. Both are really good for what they do, but they definitely serve different purposes. If I was a runner with plantar fasciitis, personally I would opt for wearing compression socks while running, if I had a great running shoe I was using. If not, I would wear a plantar fasciitis sock. There you go. That's my take! Know that you might have to experiment with a few pair just because of the different fits and materials. Once you found a pair you like, wear them as needed! And as always, stay healthy, so you can stay fit! Drew
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