Choosing A Compression Therapy

Colin Cook

At Peak Recovery & Health Center, we like to think we are on the cutting edge in offering recovery techniques such as compression therapy. But the Tassili Caves in the Sahara feature a mural (dated to 5,000-2,500 BC) in which a human figure appears to be wearing compression bandages.


One of the Oldest Treatments

So compression therapy has been around about as long as civilization itself, maybe longer. I doubt you could find a treatment with a longer record of both safety and success. 


The ancients used compression therapy for healing wounds. But according to WebMD, science continues to find new benefits. These include

    • better blood flow
    • prevention and treatment of varicose veins
    • less swelling during long periods of sitting
    • lower risk of blood clots
    • accelerated healing of leg ulcers
    • reduced orthostatic hypotension (i.e., the dizziness or even nausea you sometimes feel when you stand up suddenly).


As I wrote last summer, compression therapy even contributes to cardiovascular health. It aids both oxygen transport and detoxification.


Three Types of Compression Therapy

There are three basic types of compression available.


Compression socks are probably the most common type. They aren’t expensive, and you can buy them without prescription in stores or at Amazon. The ones that are available at retail are usually light to moderate compression. They can be helpful if you have varicose veins, if you have to sit for long periods of time (e.g., when traveling), or if you get swelling in your legs as a result of aging or a medical condition. They are usually tightest around the ankles and get looser as they go up your leg.


Some people wear compression socks because they feel good. Some people wear them to prevent blood pooling on a long flight or car trip. If you have a severe reduction in your heart function or severe peripheral arterial disease, check with your doctor before trying them. Otherwise, they are pretty much risk-free. There are also anti-embolism socks for use by bedridden patients at risk of blood clots. But you are unlikely to encounter them without a prescription.


Compression bandages and wraps are usually prescribed by a doctor to treat lymphedema or even a sprained ankle. They are not as simple to use as socks, and if you need them, your doctor has probably already told you about them.


Beyond Socks and Bandages

The king of compression, however, is the sequential pneumatic compression garment, which is what we offer here at Peak with our RecoveryPump equipment. With RecoveryPump, the compression is created by inflatable cells, which makes it possible to inflate them in patterns, so that the compression moves up and down your legs to keep the blood moving. Unlike the other two types of compression, you can’t use sequential pneumatic compression while you’re walking around. You just need to relax and let the garment do its work for 15 to 20 minutes. One of these sessions can reduce inflammation, flush waste and toxins naturally, expedite recovery from athletic efforts, and increase your flexibility and range of motion.


Compression therapy can relieve the symptoms of venous disease, reduce swelling in the legs, and mitigate some heart conditions. But you really don’t need to have a medical problem to use it, because it’s great for athletic recovery or for just improving circulation. Book a session and find out.


Photo: “Best Compression Socks for Running” by Daniel Max is marked with CC BY 2.0.