Rarely when people hear the word, "compression," (depending on their age, of course) do they think about clothing. And if they do, it is highly likely their first thought will land on the basic knee-high model. While compression stockings specifically, are the most common type of compression garment, with the recent, rapid growth of the industry, these stockings are quickly finding themselves amongst an ever widening pool of compression products.
The reason for this is three-fold. The first reason is due to the fact that the technology driving the compression field has grown in sophistication a great deal in recent years. The remaining two are related in a sense. What it boils down to is this: The market is both broader and deeper than it used to be.
The added depth is due to the fact there is an existing, built-in demand for these products due to various conditions such as Edema, Phlebitis and Thrombosis, that primarily affect only those of a more advanced age. People are living longer these days, making for a larger elderly population and in turn, a greater demand for compression clothing. Plus is is broader due to the fact that more people as young as their early-twenties are now appreciating the benefits of compression clothing.
A very recent development is the creation of compression stockings dedicated to travel. Jobst, a leading compression manufacturer is on track to release their new line of travel compression stockings in late 2012.
All of this is to say nothing of the already enormous and monied market of marathon runners and athletes. As any basketball fan will attest, it's more than likely that their favorite star has sported some sort of compression item on their arm or leg, corresponding with the team colors, of course.
Simply put, the purpose of compression clothing along with the various devices is to provide pressure beyond the surface, and to the tissue, without causing discomfort or restricting movement. Sounds simple enough but the construction designed to treat the various conditions are elaborate. Most of the garments are created out of some semblance of lycra or spandex. Most pieces are composed of a little of both, with a greater concentration of lycra covering certain areas of the muscles that require a greater concentration of pressure. In most cases, graduated pressure is built into the garment, increasing toward the top. This is said to emphasize greater blood-flow and help with circulation, as well as reducing the rate of blood pooling and swelling.