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Compression Socks & Compression Shorts; 7 Everyday Benefits Of Compression Garments For Everybody

by SRC Health on June 12, 2021

Approximate Reading Time: 6 minutes

Compression therapy has been around for as long as humankind has treated wounds. Compression garments are the modern equivalent of bandaging an area of the body that has been injured to assist with healing and recovery.

In ancient times long strips of cloth (bandages) were wound firmly around a woman’s abdominals after giving birth to reduce swelling and to tighten overstretched abdominal muscles.

As the mother’s abdomen contracted down, the cloth was shortened and tightened. The practice was popular amongst many different cultures:

  • Japanese women call their belly wrap a ‘sarashi,’
  • Hispanic women call their wrap a ‘faja,’ and
  • Malaysian women call it a bengkung.

The practice of belly binding is still in use today even though science and technology makes postpartum recovery faster, easier, safer and much more convenient with products like SRC Recovery garments that are backed by research.

In fact, it is this practice of belly binding that gave our founder Sinead O’Donovan the idea to combine this ancient practice with  a modern design, fabrics and research to create the famous SRC Recovery Shorts – our very first product. Designed by women for women in consultation with Melbourne obstetrician Grant Saffer the SRC Recovery Shorts help new mums look after their health and wellbeing during the most joyous yet physically and emotionally taxing time of their lives – 4th Trimester.

Compression therapy is simple and efficient. It can work also by applying pressure to the veins, making their diameter smaller and pushing blood back into the deep venous system which in turn pushes the blood  back to the heart. This improved flow of blood aids in healing, decreases swelling and speeds up recovery for a number of different conditions.

Healers in ancient Rome and Egypt used bandages to wrap patients’ legs to treat injuries but compression garments were not invented until the 1950s when the more modern fabrics became available, and medical science understood the way in which compression worked. It took a long time to arrive at the compression shorts, compression socks and compression leggings that we know and love today. The history is fascinating and in parts somewhat grey as to who and when can be credited with the invention of modern compression socks. 

5000-2500 BCE

Drawings in caves of Tassili in Sahara show images of soldiers with bandaged lower extremities.

1600 BCE

Edwin Smith Papyrus included evidence of mechanical compression therapy for legs.

450–350 BCE

Hippocrates treated his patients' leg ulcers with tight bandages, which were described in his Corpus Hippocraticum.

Middle Ages


Evidenced by the works of Avicenna, Giovanni Savonarola, Guy de Chauliac, Ambroise Paré, Girolamo Fabrizio di Acquapendente leg compression bandages were used for therapy to treat enlarged veins of the legs.


A precursor of elastic stockings were gaiters, a sort of stockings without feet and with anterior or lateral laces), already described by Fabrizio of Acquapendente and used for various reasons. They were made of dog skin, string, rubber etc., but they were rapidly abandoned because they produced oedema of the foot and ankle.


William Harvey discovered the link between venous stasis and the external pressure. Following that discovery, various compression measures were introduced for therapy: laced stockings, elastic bands, and tight bandages with resin.


7 years after Goodyear vulcanisation, Brockedon W and Thomas Hancock in England registered the first patent for fine and quadrangular rubber thread, which rapidly conquered the textile industry.

26th October 1848

The elastic stocking was born on the when William Brown of Middlesex registered patent no. 12294 concerning the elastic stocking in India rubber manufactured on hand looms.


William Saville makes the first example of surgical elastic stockings manufactured on hand looms and also to measure.


Römpler introduces elastic weaving, however, rubber elastic stockings continued to be poorly regarded by doctors and patients because they were thick and poorly transpiring.

Late 1800’s

Fisher and Lasker, German phlebologists, discover that the application of the external pressure helped to treat blood clots in the lower extremities.


Oskar Huppelsberg produced the first seamless stockings known as “Ohrs-Ohrsana”


Elastic stockings with fibres other than rubber appeared for the first time produced by the Thalysia company


The year of the first revolution in stocking production because Nylon® (polyamide) was invented and patented (1935) by Wallace H Carothers at the factory founded by the French chemist Eleuthère Irènèe DuPont of Nemours


The second revolution arrived in the 1960s, again under the DuPont name, first with the patenting and then with the marketing of Lycra® (Elastam or Spandex in the USA and Canada), which would become the fibre of the 20th century.


Medical engineer and inventor Conrad Jobst is the most likely inventor of the “modern” compression garment. Himself a sufferer of severe chronic venous insufficiency (similar to varicose veins), a condition that occurs when veins in your legs don’t function properly and instead of allowing blood to be pumped back to the heart, the valves malfunction and cause blood to pool in your lower legs, Jobst is the epitome of the saying “necessity is the mother of invention”.

He also developed precision gun sights for the U.S.A during the First World War and patented the car sunroof, but compression socks, which he invented around 1950, were his flagship achievement.


Karl Sigg invents the graduated compression elastic stocking produced by the Ganzoni Sigvaris® company. Previously to that compression socks and stockings had uniform compression which distributes the same pressure from the ankle and up toward the knee. Graduated compression socks and leggings are the more effective type of compression garment due to their ability to boost circulation. Graduated compression socks and compression leggings are tightest around the ankle and provide less pressure as they go up the leg helping blood go back up to your heart against the force of gravity by applying pressure to vein walls from the outside. More blood pumping going through the better your legs will feel eliminating swelling from blood pooling.  


Sinead O’Donovan invents and patents the world’s first Compression Postpartum Recovery Short with Anatomical Support Panels that deliver targeted compression, ideal for treating multiple conditions such as perineal wounds, C-Section, abdominal muscle separation (DRAM).

The SRC Health maternity compression range has now grown to be largest and evidence backed in the world, providing  help for pregnancy, postpartum recovery, sport, surgery, continence and prolapse.




Most people suffering from tired and achy legs can benefit from Compression Socks.

SRC Compression Socks have been developed to be the perfect companion for both the SRC Pregnancy and SRC Recovery compression garments especially when coupled with the shorts variety or simply as a standalone product.

SRC Compression Socks maybe be beneficial:

  • During pregnancy
  • Postpartum recovery period
  • In improving performance and recovery in athletes,
  • For use as flight socks or by people who are bed ridden and can not move their legs for extensive periods
  • For people who spend a long time on their feet such as nurses, retail assistants, food and hospitality staff, many trades, etc
  • For diabetics

Today the use of compression socks and compression leggings is common, with major sporting companies all having their own brands, yet none  have fully  focused on the specific needs of women during pregnancy and postpartum recovery let alone invest into the research and development like SRC Health to bring evidence based maternity compression to women across the world.

Improved Recovery with SRC Recovery Shorts, Leggings and SRC Compression Socks

  1. Compression socks and compression shorts can improve blood flow, helping to pump lots of oxygen and nutrients to your cells, fuelling your muscles and enhancing your recovery and cell repair.
  2. Compression shorts, compression leggings and compression socks all work by wrapping snugly around your muscles to support and stabilise them while you exercise. They effectively stabilise the area and reduce muscle vibration which can cause soft tissue damage, premature fatigue and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – the pain you feel next day after that heavy work out.
  3. Compression garments are also used to reduce blood pooling and swelling caused by venous conditions, spending extended periods of time on your feet or not moving during periods of travel or being bed ridden due to illness.

Improved Performance Benefits of Compression Garments

  1. Compression socks, shorts and compression leggings can all improve proprioception and reduce muscle oscillation - movement of the muscle that happens as your foot hits the ground or your fist strikes at a boxing bag when vibration ripples through the muscle as the result of your movement. This stabilisation in turn decreases pain and saves energy providing the wearer with the ability to perform harder for longer.
  2. Compression shorts, leggings and compression socks can also be beneficial in helping self-regulate the body temperature keeping the wearer warm or cool and are therefore they can be beneficial to people of all levels of physical ability. Research also indicates that the highest benefits will be accumulated at the highest level of exertion. 
  3. Compression shorts, socks and compression leggings will all help your muscles warm up faster which helps reduce the risk of injury and improves your performance.
  4. The moisture wicking fabrics in many compression garments can help keep you dry and comfortable whilst eliminating chafing and friction that is produced when more traditional garments are worn.

    Studies on compression have outlined numerous benefits particularly when it comes to recovery. Body and Soul article examined the latest available research:

    • One study examined the effectiveness of lower limb compression as a recovery strategy following exercise-induced muscle damage. 17 female volunteers were involved in an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle damage. This study indicated that individuals who wore SKINS lower limb compression garments for 12 hours following exercise inducing muscle damage, experienced up to 20 per cent less functional muscle decrement and lower perceptions of muscle soreness in comparison with individuals who had a passive recovery.
    • Another study using an MRI took 11 subjects to demonstrate the change in muscles during recovery. After only 1 hour of wearing the compression the results showed significant enzyme improvement in the restoration of muscle membrane.
    • In another example, the University of Connecticut did a study on both men and women. They decked out their subjects, who were weightlifters in whole body compression garments and after a weightlifting session found that the compression indeed helped both the Male and Female weightlifters have reduced soreness, swelling, fatigue and other post exercise pain.
    • A 2014 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that compression garments promote muscle strength recovery after bouts of resistance training.
    • Compression shorts and compression leggings worn during workouts can help improve performance by decreasing fatigue. UPMC Health Beat says that wearing compression shorts helps to reduce muscle aches and fatigue during and after workouts, resulting in better performance when you wear compression garments.
    • A 2016 study published in Sports Medicine found that compression shorts and socks improved perceived exertion in endurance runners which in turn may improve performance levels.
    • Compression shorts cause less chafing and friction than more traditional athletic shorts, plus they won't ride up when you're running, squatting, doing sit-ups, or stretching, among other activities.

    A 2015 study from the University of Michigan compared giving birth to running a Marathon in the way that it taxes the body, giving even more support to our long-held belief that women need and deserve to have the right “equipment” to get them through the common aches and pains of pregnancy, to be able to work, exercise and to be in the best shape for delivery. And just like for any extreme sports athlete, recovery is paramount. The 4th trimester recovery should be planned for, yet many women put their own physical and emotional needs on the back burner after their babies are born.

    At SRC Health, we are constantly engaged in extensive research and consultation with leading Obstetricians, Gynaecologists, Women’s Health Physiotherapists and Midwives to design products that support your body through every stage of life.

    Compression therapy – worth trialing for yourself

    Whilst there are numerous studies showing varying degrees of benefits compression garments, they have been focused and conducted at the elite levels of sports and apply to high intensity exercises with the reciprocally large necessity for recovery.

    There is more scientific evidence around the benefits of compression on recovery than performance improvement, the number of big-name sports people and weekend warriors who will not practice or compete without their compression suggests that the performance benefits are also substantial.

    With 100,000+ mothers who swear by the benefits of compression therapy during pregnancy, postpartum and for issues of incontinence and prolapse, compression garments are a low cost and safe treatment worth trialling for yourself. 


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