Poor circulation occurs when insufficient blood flows to your extremities, according to the UAB Health System. The causes of poor circulation to the feet and legs include excess weight, age, nerve damage due to diabetes or other conditions, alcoholism, vitamin deficiencies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lack of exercise. Poor circulation is a serious condition that can lead to amputation, stroke and heart attack. You can use socks to improve circulation in your legs and feet by selecting special socks or wearing socks at certain times.
Choose well-fitting socks that do not have tight elastic bands at the top. The elastic bands can impede circulation in your legs.
Wear socks to warm your cold feet in the winter, around the house and when you go to bed. Poor circulation and nerve damage can make your feet feel cold. Socks improve circulation by warming your feet.
Talk to your doctor about wearing compression socks to improve your circulation. Compression socks squeeze your blood vessels and muscles to create contractions that move the blood along your legs and back to your heart. Graduated compression socks provide more compression at the ankle and decreased compression incrementally along the length of the sock. Compression socks are made of rubber, Lycra or spandex.
Ask your doctor which compression level is appropriate for your condition. Compression levels range from 8 to 10 mm HG, a measurement that represents millimeter of mercury, up to 40 to 50 mm Hg. Socks with compression levels higher than 20 mm Hg require a prescription.
Purchase compression socks, wear them during the day and take them off at night. Avoid wearing compression socks longer than the doctor-prescribed length of time. Your compression socks should fit without bunching. Bunching can worsen your circulation problem.
Wear compression socks during exercise. While compression socks are used primarily for medical conditions, athletes, such as runners, also use them to improve circulation and increase the level of oxygenated blood to muscles. Compression socks can help with faster recovery after running workouts and protect your muscles from damage, swelling and pain.
Add compression socks to your work uniform if you stand and walk a lot on your job. Medical-grade compression work socks are made to relieve leg fatigue, improve circulation and prevent swelling of your feet and ankles.