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Are socks dangerous?

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

–Mark Twain

Today I realized that I have spent the majority of my adult daytime hours enduring a continuous, sock-induced lower extremity discomfort. Socks feature a type of tourniquet system that slowly squeezes calf flesh into red indented rings, crowning edematous ankles. Why must socks be so painful? The manufacturers believe that their ability to “stay up” far outweighs the importance of comfort – and so like the sock zombies we are, consumers continue to purchase them under the assumption that painful elastics are simply part of the sock experience.

I decided to search the Internet for sock commiserators, and lo and behold, I found a comment in a diabetes forum about the dangers of tight socks. This person argues that socks can predispose to blood clots, and promote ulcers in those who have preexisting circulatory problems. She goes on to recommend a special type of diabetic sock that is non-binding, manufactured by a company called “sugar free sox.”

I performed a Medline search for articles about “socks” and “stockings” and there were surprisingly few articles. In fact, the majority of articles only mentioned a specific type of medical sock known as “compression stockings” (or T.E.D.s). I didn’t see any studies confirming the potential dangers of the garden variety sock, but it does make intuitive sense that anything that acts as a tourniquet cannot be a good thing for the circulatorily challenged.

Therefore, my recommendation is that if you are diabetic or have any known problems with your circulation, you should do your best to avoid tight socks. I myself am planning to try out these diabetic soft elastic, stretchy socks – and I will wear them proudly about the office in utter contentment and comfort.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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5 Responses to “Are socks dangerous?”

  1. RH Host Marly says:

    I wasn’t aware that regular tube or ankle socks can be too tight. However, knee highs are a different story–I can’t stand them. As a result I wear “pantyhose”. Thanks Dr. Val for the always so informative posts-much appreciated!

  2. BridgetB says:

    very interesting! I definitely have a few pairs that leave red marks on my calves at the end of the day– I’ll have to think twice before wearing them!

  3. ChickP says:

    As long as the socks come in purple polka dots, I’ll give them a try. (-:

    I hadn’t thought before about this…thanks for pointing it out!

  4. healthyg says:

    I HATE socks. It not the band around the tops, but the seams that really give me pain. They rub on my toes and give me blisters. I recently found seam-free running socks, but haven’t yet found dress socks that don’t have them. I wear most socks inside out to reduce the pain, but it’s still annoying! Thanks for blogging on ALL medical issues~! : )

  5. ValJonesMD says:

    Sock haters of the world, unite! :)

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