Stop toe starvation. The most difficult part of the body to be nourished by the blood stream is the toes. Because of gravity it's hard to keep the blood flow brisk. It's an uphill climb for blood to move from the toes back to the heart when we're upright. It's even tougher when the toes are cold because the blood vessels shrink. If we eat a big holiday meal, more blood is needed in the stomach for digestion and this robs blood flow from the toes. The fix: cozy socks to keep our toes warm, which increases the blood flow and feeds fresh blood to the surrounding tissues. Warm toes are happy tootsies.
Prevent blood clots. The lower legs are a common site for blood clots, which can travel through the circulation into the heart, lungs or brain to cause serious problems like heart attacks and strokes. Keeping a robust blood flow helps prevent blood clots from forming, especially in people who have already had problems with clots. Special compression stockings are sometimes recommended that provide a measured amount of pressure along the legs to improve the circulation.
Avoid puffy feet. If we're on our feet a lot, by the end of the day the blood flow through the lower legs is likely sluggish. As blood travels more slowly, some normal body fluids called lymph seep into the tissue, making our legs swell. Small skin creases may be seen across our lower legs when the socks come off after a long day; this is due to mild swelling and is not a big concern. If the puffiness does not disappear overnight, your clinician wants to hear from you. Socks that fit snug and evenly, without bunching up, help limit swelling. But be careful, socks that fit too snug may overly compress the legs and actually decrease blood flow. Socks that stop low on the calf likely lead to poor circulation because they don't provide enough support to keep blood moving smoothly across the length of the leg.
Keep shoe sores away. Shoes are important to protect our feet from the constant risk of unseen pokes, stickers and rocks that we may walk and run on. However, shoes have seams and creases that also push and prod, and the padding of socks protects the skin of our feet from damage. Especially for those with diabetes or other illnesses that impair circulation, it is critical to protect the feet from even minor abrasions or sores that may come from common shoe wear as these may heal poorly when they occur.
So keep socks on the list and find some warm, snuggly ones to give to those you love.
Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu and follow us on social media.
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