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You've been walking all day through the streets of Buenos Aires, London, Bangkok, wherever. Heaven forbid you get plantar fasciitis right in the middle of your big vacation because, as we all know, travel typically mandates an abundance of walking.
Not wanting to fall victim to swollen ankles or poor style, we have been scouring the internet for alternatives to frumpy tights and fraying socks. As professed travel enthusiasts, we know all too well how bothersome aching feet can be (particularly when donning those adorable but torturous stilettos), and we needed something to provide our precious lower extremities with the enhanced blood circulation they need to stay pain-free. Enter: compression wear.
Until recently, compression tights were sold mostly at pharmacies and retailers catering to older men and women. The socks and tights might have dowdy ancestry, but the look is becoming increasingly trendy and holds many aesthetic benefits.
Long a medical necessity for those at risk for deep-vein thrombosis or blood clots, compression tights are now beginning to thrive in fashion among stylish women who suffer on uncomfortably cramped airplane seats during long-haul flights. Compression garments are particularly important for flyers as airplanes harbor an excess of environmental factors that can cause clots (DVTs), or lower extremity discomfort.
These tights, tops, and snug-fitting socks, essentially hosiery made from tightly woven materials such as cotton and nylon, minimize the swelling that can result from prolonged inactivity or excess movement. Made with tighter elastic to better hold its shape, compression apparel also delivers graduated pressure, meaning garments are tighter around the ankle than the knee, thus helping improve circulation from the lower leg.
Brian Park, founder of Nabee Socks and a former nurse in Washington D.C., was inspired by the idea of compression wear while he was working in the medical field. During that time, he noticed that most of the doctors and nurses were wearing compression socks underneath their normal socks. They were using them to prevent sore feet and varicose veins caused by the long 12-hour shifts running around the unit, but almost everyone was still disguising them due to their "unappealing look." That's when he recognized the need for fashion-conscious compression style.
According to Park, the primary benefits of graduated compression are the prevention of swelling, fatigue, and soreness in your legs and feet. They also prevent the appearance of spider and varicose veins. As a result, this fashion statement can make a broad impact on women's travel wardrobes.
"Your legs and feet are the furthest point from your heart. It's fighting gravity, and if you're not moving your leg muscles, your heart is getting no help in circulating your blood properly. This is why your feet can get swollen after many hours of sitting on a plane or standing at work. Graduated compression alleviates these problems by placing pressure on the legs to help push blood out of the feet and legs back towards the heart."
We're sold! Check out some of our favorite compression wear brands below.