Monday, June 22, 2009

I made a great discovery last night about my legs

I've noticed for quite a while that my toes were a reddish color, as if they weren't getting enough blood. Last night I decided to sleep without my support stockings. Sure enough, when I got up this morning the reddish color was replaced with the normal skin color. In addition, I went to the bathroom several times during the night, and the volume of my urine was greater than the water I drank during the night, and my weight this morning was 4 pounds less than it was on Saturday. I'm not sure I understand this very well, but what I think happened was that by removing my compression socks, I got more blood into my feet, and that resulted in more blood going into my lymph system and down to my kidneys and out as urine. When I received therapy in February and March for the swelling in my feet, I was told to wear the compression socks for 2 years. However, the measurements I take each morning on my legs (I measure the circumference of my legs at 3 places) showed my feet weren't swelling any more. I've left the socks off all day, and I'll sleep without them tonight. Then I'll see if my measurements in the morning show any significant swelling.


  1. I wonder if your compression socks have shrunk from numerous washings and have became tighter over time? Smart to observe the toe color changes and react accordingly. I often thought that compression socks would help circulation, but now I wonder.

  2. My instructions for washing the socks are to wash them in a warm/cold cycle and then dry them for 10 minutes on the lowest heat to shrink them a bit. Then let them air dry through evaporation. The socks tend to stretch and are to be replaced every six months for the nylon ones and every 9 months for the cotton tube socks. I've been wearing onlh the cotton tube socks during the day for the past week.

    When I was in the hospital in January for 5 days, a hospital doctor gave me some thin compression socks, but I took them off after a few hours because my toes went red.

    The purpose of my compression socks is to control the swelling. I had gained 30 pounds due to swelling. At first, I wore the tube compression socks, and then my feet were wrapped with multiple layers of 1/4 inch closed-cell foam and ace bandages. There was one layer of the foam and 5 or 6 overlapping layers of ace bandages. My legs were big and puffy and looked like mummy legs. After I had lost most of the water-weight, I then wore nylon socks, a closed-toe during the day and a lighter open-toe version at night. After my daily measurements showed no more swelling was occurring, I broke the rules and didn't wear the thinner nylon socks at night; instead, I wore two layers of the cotton tube open-toed socks.

    Noticing the change in color and reacting accordingly was like listening to my body while I ran, a natural thing for me to do, although I was slow in reacting to the toe color. One test I would do on my toes was to press a toe with my finger and cause the skin to go white due to blood being pushed away from that spot. Then I would release the pressure and see how quickly the color returned as blood returned to the spot. Even though my toes were reddish in color, that test showed I did have sufficient blood circulation in my toes, and I ignored the slight change in color of the toes. I finally, though, ran a test of not wearing any compression socks, and the reddish color went away as I mentioned in my post.

  3. I find your experiences with compression socks fascinating! I can see how they would help prevent swelling. My only other reference with compression socks was reading about Paula Radcliffe always wearing flesh color compression socks during her runs and races to help her performances.

  4. As a pharmacist at Medicine Shoppe who is 50+ and likes to run, I have tried most of the compression socks we carry. I find them useful for air travel and long periods of sitting and immobility to prevent inflammation. I also find that I do not tire or ache as much when I wear them running or playing tennis. It is very important that you have a professional fit you into the size and compression level you need. Like me, you may find that lighter compression socks can be helpful for healthy people in everyday life.

  5. Thanks, Hilary, for your comment! My compression socks are heavy duty. They were fitted to me by a professional to help me get rid of the swelling and 30# of water weight. In addition to the heavy duty nylon socks, I'm using cotton Tube-a-Grips, which provide less compression than the nylon socks and may be more akin to the light socks you referred to. I've been wearing two layers of the tube socks in the calf area and one layer on my foot and above the knees.

  6. I noticed yesterday that my toes have picked up some swelling and that the three points where I measure the circumference of my leg are slightly larger. I thus have gone back to wearing the tube socks. I've been wearing two layers of tubes over my calves and one layer over my foot and above the knee.

    After the tube socks have eliminated the new swelling, I'll experiment with wearing the tube socks in the day and nothing at night. If that doesn't work, I'll experiment with two layers of tube socks over my calves during the day and only one layer at night. Wearing two layers both day and night has worked, so hopefully I won't need to go back to the thicker nylon socks.

  7. Anonymous8/01/2009

    nice post

  8. Hi Allen,

    Just did a google search of Paula Radcliffe and socks and your blog came up.

    I am fascinated by this topic because I am a runner who is currently dealing with shin splints in my lower right leg.

    For the first time when I ran the NYC Half-Marathon, I noticed that Paula Radcliffe wears these flesh colored socks and wondered if these are the same type of socks my Dad wears for circulation.

    My Dad has been a vent-dependent quadriplegic for the past 13 years and he wears similar looking socks to improve his circulation.

    Now putting his story, Paula's story and your story together with MY story - I am thoroughly confused:(

    Has your experience shown that these socks help in any way with running in terms of keeping the lower leg muscles warm and supple?

    Very curious about this!

    Thanks for posting on this topic.

  9. I'd heard that Paula wore compression socks, but I didn't know if that was true. I wore them because of having blood clots in January. The socks helped keep the swelling under control. I don't know if they help in keeping your legs warm.

    Concerning your shin splints, I'm sorry to hear about that. Injuries of any kind are a problem.... Shin Splints are an overuse injury, so the first thing to do is to give yourself a few days of rest and then back off in your training. Running heavy/light is always a good idea, as is following the 10% rule in making increases. One exercise that I do is the "furniture life" which I explain in my stretching-pictures page.

    You probably already know all of this since your shin splints probably aren't something that just happened to you. I'm mentioning this for the benefit of others who will read these comments. I hope that you're able to get the SS under control and continue with your training.