November 12, 2013

Combating Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves and often arises from high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. The damaged nerves usually occur in the legs or feet, but can also occur anywhere in the body. Depending on which nerves are affected, symptoms can range from pain and numbness in the extremities, to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart.

As of 2010, neuropathy affected 131 million people around the world, and diabetes was the leading known cause. Among those with diabetes, neuropathy was also the most common complication, affecting roughly 20%. Despite its prevalence, diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication but can often be prevented or slowed with tight blood sugar control.

Though there are four different types of neuropathy, but the most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the feet and legs first and may also affect the hands and arms. For diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy, symptoms may include:

  • Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or changes in temperature, especially in your feet or toes.
  • A tingling or burning feeling
  • Sharp, jabbing pain that may be worse at night
  • Pain when walking
  • Extreme sensitivity to the lightest touch – for some people, even the weight of a sheet can be agonizing Muscle weakness and difficulty walking
  • Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, deformations, and bone and joint pain.

For most, the painful tingling sensation around the feet is most difficult symptom to cope with. As is most likely the case with situations like these, a well rounded change of lifestyle is the greatest tool against advanced stages. While changing one's diet, maintaining blood pressure and quitting smoking can all help to stave off neuropathy's progression, the increased blood circulation that accompanies daily exercise is necessary. The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. This may be the most difficult aspect of lifestyle change, considering the sensitivity of the feet, so activities such as swimming or bicycling may be recommended.

To help combat the sensitivity, Juzo produces a crew sock especially for sensitive feet called the Silver Sole. The sock features a very pillowed sole to reduce blistering and callous buildup while increasing shock absorption, and a channeled toe seam to minimize the potential for irritation. In addition, the Silver Sole derives its name from the X-static silver filaments woven through the foot portion for odor reduction and antibacterial protection. Paired with a change of diet, the Juzo Silver Sole crew socks can help you be successful in your fight against diabetic neuropathy!

November 04, 2013

Maintaining Blood Sugar During Exercise

It's November and with the holidays around the corner, lots of people are preempting those big family meals by working out; but for those with diabetes, working out can be a tricky undertaking. Believe it or not, too much physical activity is among the leading causes of low blood glucose levels. For up to 24 hours following a moderate to intense workout, blood glucose levels may drop into a hypoglycemic state. This post-exercise period is often referred to as the "lag effect."

For those without diabetes, the object of working out before the holidays is to cut fat in anticipation of turkey dinners and pie. To fuel the workout, our bodies rely on two different sources of energy, sugar and free fatty acids (in that order). The sugar is stored in the liver and muscle in a form called glycogen. During the first 15 minutes of exercise, most of the sugar for fuel comes from either the blood stream or the muscle glycogen, which is converted back to sugar. After 15 minutes of exercise however, the fuel starts to come more from the glycogen stored in the liver. After 30 minutes of exercise, the body begins to get more of its energy from the free fatty acids. As a result, exercise strenuous enough to begin burning fat can deplete sugar levels and glycogen stores.

Following the workout, the body will replace these glycogen stores but this process may take 4 to 6 hours, or even 12 to 24 hours with more intense activity. During this rebuilding of glycogen stores, a person with diabetes can be at higher risk for hypoglycemia. Here are tips for safe exercising:

  • Check your blood sugar before working out; make sure you have sufficient blood glucose levels. If they are a little low, eat a snack!
  • Avoid exercising during the peak period of your insulin action. There are different types of insulin and depending on which you take, the period of time it is most active will vary.
  • Time your exercise to allow yourself at least two hours between the workout and your bedtime.
  • Chances of hypoglycemia go up with the number of workouts in your day. Try to limit yourself to 1 or 2.
  • Avoid hot tubs, steam rooms or saunas immediately following your workout. The high temperatures maintain a high heart rate and continue to lower your blood glucose level.
  • Even if you're not diabetic, avoid alcohol prior to, and following, a workout.
  • Keep a close eye on your glucose level after you're done. Check your blood sugar immediately following the workout, and again 2-4 hours later.
  • Wear compression socks during periods of activity and recovery from exercise. By applying a light graduated compression to your legs, you will increase your circulation and prevent soreness.

Diabetes is a tricky disease that requires meticulous attention to various facets to your life. By keeping a good balance between diet and exercise, you will begin to find that the symptoms are easier to manage. Remember, it is all about having support from your friends and loved ones; No one should deal with it alone!

November 01, 2013

American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month, and November 14th is World Diabetes Day! This month is aimed at raising awareness about diabetes, advocating healthy lifestyles, and educating others for the sake of the health of future generations. Additionally, diabetes month serves to continually challenge the way this condition is approached and treated.

Whether or not you know someone who has diabetes, the condition is much more prevalent than you'd think. Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin (or does not use insulin properly), thus causing high blood sugar. There are a couple of different reasons why this may happen among different individuals, and the exact cause of diabetes is still unknown, so diabetes is split into three categories: Type I, Type II, and Gestational. Type II diabetes is the most common, and is usually onset and exacerbated by poor diet choices and lack of exercise. The most dangerous thing about type II is that it is progressive, so it gets worse over time if no course of action is taken. So why is awareness about diabetes so important?

From the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) Diabetes Month Talking Points:

Why is awareness about diabetes important?
  • Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes.
  • Another 79 million adults in the United States have pre-diabetes, a condition that increases their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • If left undiagnosed or untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and even death. With early diagnosis and treatment, people with diabetes may prevent the development of these health problems.
  • The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 is $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.

Diabetes is a serious condition in which many factors can contribute to exacerbating other health issues, as shown above. It is extremely important that we not only raise awareness to help those currently fighting, but also educate the future generations about proper nutrition and fitness principles such that we can prevent this condition from worsening. The important thing to remember is that no one should ever have to fight the condition alone. From helping you on the day-to-day, to encouraging you through your daily diet and exercise, diabetes is something that is much easier to endure with the support of your family and friends. To take it one step further, expand your family and reach out to the diabetes community; strength in numbers! Though your contribution to the bigger picture may be small, every little bit counts!

This month, LegSmart's blog is going to be dedicated to Diabetes Awareness. We will discuss topics such as living with diabetes, ways to prevent diabetes, health and fitness, how compression socks may help diabetes patients, and many other topics. We always encourage you to engage in a discussion with us, whether you want to correct something we may have gotten wrong, or add on to something we said. Comment below to let us know what you think!

November 01, 2013

Sigvaris Sea Island Cotton Socks

Introducing the newest addition to the Sigvaris Men's Well Being line: Sea Island Cotton Socks. Part of the new Zurich Collection, this luxurious new 15-20 mmHg sock is made of the finest cotton yarns with a great pattern that is perfect for any occasion.

Sea Island cotton has a very silky, fine texture with a softness compared to that of cashmere. Though it is very soft, it is still a durable sock that will get you throughout your toughest of days. Additionally, the fine fibers make for a more breathable sock. This sock comes in black, brown, and navy, so it will go great with all your work or weekend attire.

The Sigvaris Sea Island Cotton sock is being shipped out today, so get your order in! Use coupon code SEAISLAND20 to get 20% off. Try 'em out for yourself today and let us know what you think! We will update the article once our staff has had a chance to try them as well. If you have any questions just send us an email support@legsmart.com to speak with our staff of certified fitters.

November 01, 2013

Sigvaris All Season Wool Socks

Introducing the newest addition to the Sigvaris Well Being line: All Season Wool Socks. Part of the new Zurich Collection, this brand new 15-20 mmHg sock is made of the finest Australian Merino Wool that is extremely soft like cashmere, and doesn't itch like regular wool.

Merino wool is different from those old wool sweaters you used to wear. It is much more plush which makes for a very comfortable wear throughout your day. Additionally, wool has the wonderful property of managing heat and moisture very well. They will keep your legs warm and dry throughout the winter season. This sock is available for men and women, and it comes in black, brown, and navy, so it will go great with all your work or weekend attire.

The Sigvaris All Season Wool sock is being shipped out today, so get your order in! Use coupon code WOOL20 to get 20% off. Try 'em out for yourself today and let us know what you think! We will update the article once our staff has had a chance to try them as well. If you have any questions just send us an email at support@legsmart.com to speak with our staff of certified fitters.

September 27, 2013

Football Players Perform Better with Compression

Football season is in full swing, and players everywhere are hitting the gym and the field. Whether you're a seasoned professional, or an aspiring athlete, everyone is always looking for the newest and best ways to train harder and increase performance. So besides lifting heavy, eating right, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, what else can you do to give yourself the edge out on the field? Chances are you might already be doing it, but if not, it's never too late to start. Wearing compression sleeves greatly benefits your legs in a number of ways, and it also protects you during game day. Here are a couple of reasons why wearing compression can benefit you:

Prevent Lactic Acid Buildup:

In a sport that involves powerful, quick bursts of sprinting, lactic acid is your worst enemy. When it gets down to the very last minutes of the 4th quarter in a tight game, you need to perform like you were when the game first started. By applying graduated compression on your legs, you are effectively reducing the lactic acid buildup in your legs, allowing you to endure well into overtime. When the opposing team starts to get tired, you're just starting to get more fired up.

Increase Circulation:

Football is arguably one of the more strenuous sports in terms of stress on muscles and joints. Between cramps, tears, sprains, and breaks, it is extremely important to protect your body as much as possible. Start out by getting a really good stretch, then make sure you don't go out on the field without your compression sleeves. The compression will serve to promote healthy circulation even through the most rigorous of motions, and it will also protect your legs from excessive shock or high impact, thus reducing the risk of shin splints, cramps, and ultimately injury.

Football can really take a toll on your body. You already take many measure to prevent any possible injuries, so why not add another simple piece of gear to your bag that will help you even more? Sigvaris compression sleeves also come in a number of different colors, so you can rep your team appropriately! Got questions? Feel free to email us support@legsmart.com

September 04, 2013

Fall Layers

It's about that time of year! Time to put away the shorts and tank tops, and bust out the jeans and jackets. Whether you're still hanging on to what's left of summer, or if you're already in full fall-swing, chances are you have already or are planning on doing some shopping to update your wardrobe for work and to prepare for the cold weather. While the jackets, boots, and pants are all important to keeping you warm, so are the inner layers. As you shop, make sure you keep these products in mind; they will all help you be more comfortable while keeping you warm in the cooler weather.

Under Armour

This thin layering is great for exercise or just daily wear. The breathable fabric is great at managing heat, as well as insulating underneath your sweaters or jackets. Additionally, it wicks moisture away quickly so you'll stay drier during exercise, and your clothes won't stick to you when it rains. The keyword here is comfort. Under Armour is great because they have all kinds of apparel, from compression, to fitted, to casual street wear.

Compression shorts

Compression shorts are great! I've just recently discovered them, but don't have many pairs because they can be kind of pricey for an undergarment. However, they're well worth it for many reasons. If you're out for a long run and it starts to rain, you'll be warm and dry. Additionally, you're preventing any chance of chafing by wearing them. I'm getting a little ahead of myself by mentioning this, but they're great for skiing too. They keep you nice and warm, and when you fall the snow down your pants won't be quite as uncomfortable.

Compression socks

The versatility of compression socks has definitely gotten much better over time. You have the option of knee, thigh, or pantyhose (even leggings!) styles that come in all compression levels, colors, and fabrics. A couple of my favorites for cold weather are the Sigvaris Merino Wool socks and the Medi Motion Sport. These socks will not only keep your legs warm, they will also promote healthy circulation and help your legs feel refreshed after a long day.

Whether you're getting your morning run on or preparing for a long day at work, make sure to never leave the house with these layering essentials. You'll be warmer, drier, and overall more comfortable. So layer up, get on out there, and just keep doing the sun dance until it comes back!

August 30, 2013

Compression Socks vs. Moisture

One of the concerns with wearing compression socks is managing moisture. Wearing tight knee high socks sounds uncomfortable enough, and to have them be sweaty or wet from rain is even worse. To address the tightness, these socks are knit with a consistent and gradual pressure gradient, so they won't bind uncomfortably. Additionally, the materials used in many of these socks are breathable and wick away moisture fairly quickly, so your legs and feet won't feel like they're in a sauna. Here are three of my favorite socks that are the best at moisture management:

Sigvaris Athletic Performance:

The Sigvaris Athletic Performance running sock is one of my favorites. This 20-30 mmHg running sock is made with dri-release fabric, so it breathes well and stays dry. While this sock was meant for use during exercise, it certainly can be worn simply to support you throughout your busy day. It comes in white or black, with sleek grey stripes that will go great with your running outfit. The sizing is extremely flexible, and can accommodate up to a men's size 14. I have a pair of these in black, and something about the material just makes this sock really comfortable. If you prefer to go footless, they also make a really great sleeve that comes in many different colors

Sigvaris Merino Wool:

Many people are hesitant to try wool simply because of itchy experiences in the past. However, I urge you to look past the old scratchy looking sweaters that you're already envisioning. If you've ever worn a pair of Smart Wool socks before, you'll know that they are actually really comfortable. Similarly, Sigvaris's Merino Wool is a smooth, plush sock that will also provide the extra benefit of graduated compression. The best part about wool: It can wick away up to 30% of its own weight in moisture. Whether you want a light 15-20 compression or more support of a 20-30mmHg sock, the Merino Wool will keep you warm when it's cold, and manage the heat effectively when it's hot.

Juzo Silver Sole or Silver Soft:

Juzo has a really great line of socks that contain silver threads (no, they're not just trying to make fancy shiny socks). The silver is great because it not only manages moisture well, but its anti-microbial properties are good for managing moisture and odor. This sock is only available in the medical grade – 20-30mmHg and up – but it comes in either the Silver Soft or the Silver Sole. Both are lightweight, comfortable stockings with the efficacy of a medical grade compression.

 

Walking around with sweaty feet (or god forbid rain-soaked shoes with soggy socks) all day is very unpleasant, especially if you have to wear compression. But with these socks you'll find that your feet will feel much more comfortable and dry. Of course you’ll have the off day where you step in a puddle, but if you find that happening to you often, spray this on your shoes. Keep your feet dry out there, and let us know what works or doesn’t work for you!

August 27, 2013

Take a Hike!

For the outdoorsy type: What is the most breathtaking view of nature that you have ever seen? What did it take you to get there? Whether you're a wilderness journey expert or simply a curious individual that wanders, you all share the common interest in getting out there, challenging yourself, and taking in the view. If you think about it, hiking and climbing have essentially been a common human activity, even at the most basic and primitive level. Before any kind of motor technology, humans explored the landscape around them by simply walking around. Now seen as a great form of exercise, hiking has evolved from simply exploring to appreciating nature while challenging yourself to new heights. However, if not equipped properly, hiking can be quite arduous, even dangerous in some cases. Here are some must-have essentials to bring with you on every hike so that you're ready for whatever comes at you.

Water

Always make sure you carry enough water in a container that is easy to bring and refillable. Some of the best options are either a CamelBak or an aluminum water bottle. Pro-Tip: fill your water bottle half way the night before, and lay it on its side in the freezer. In the morning, fill up the other half with water and you'll have ice cold water most of your hike. When it finally melts, you have more cold water!

Backpack

Depending on how long your hike is, have a backpack that will be able to accommodate all the necessary supplies you are bringing with you. Get one that has good support and relatively lightweight. As part of a side list, here are all the little essentials you should always have in your backpack:

  • a light snack
  • first aid
  • small flashlight
  • compass
  • Trail marking tape (this stuff is biodegradable too!)

Compression shorts:

Compression shorts are great because they wick away moisture, breathe really well, and prevent chafing on even the longest of journeys.

Compression socks:

Serving a different purpose, compression socks will give you the ability to endure even the longest of hikes. The graduated compression will support your legs by promoting healthy circulation, preventing shin splints, and reducing lactic acid buildup. I recommend wearing Sigvaris Merino Wool socks for hikes because they are soft, comfortable, and can wick away up to 30% of its weight in moisture.

Good hiking shoes:

Last but certainly not least: your shoes. Without proper-fitting comfortable hiking shoes, you will not get very far up the mountain. Whether you prefer boots or low cut shoes, you need a rigid and relatively water-resistant type of shoe. Boots are great because the high tops prevent ankle injuries from stepping on uneven terrain. However, shoes have the upper hand (or foot) in terms of being more lightweight. Not sure which one to choose? Honestly, I'm not so sure either, so here's a pretty good guide on picking the right hiking shoe, courtesy of REI.

When you're out exploring nature, remember to be aware of your surroundings so as to not get lost, and take steps to prevent injury so that you can make it back down to your car with little to no hassle. Always plan your adventures, and make sure you don't stray off too far from the trail by yourself. Happy hiking!

August 20, 2013

Gear up for Fall Running

Runners everywhere are starting to catch on: compression socks really do help. No, they don't make you more aerodynamic nor do they have some kind of muscle stimulating gimmick to help you run forever. They do, however, make you look pretty darn cool when you're out on your run (look at all those colors). Fortunately, that's not the only purpose they serve.

Graduated compression socks – tightest at the ankle, lessens as you move up the calf – serve to increase circulation, reduce muscle fatigue, prevent shin splints or injury, and prevent excessive lactic acid buildup. Although wearing these won't make you an overnight marathon runner, they certainly do help you train harder and longer, while recovering quicker. Additionally, for those chilly mornings or rainy days, these socks will keep you nice and warm, while still allowing your feet to breathe well.

In addition to the many other styles of outdoor and sport socks, CEP has a great running sock that will give you the edge both for training and race day. The Running 2.0 sock is comfortable, durable, and breathable. It is available in many different bright colors to go with those extra bright running shoes. For you night runners, there is a night run sock that is bright neon yellow with reflective stripes down either side. Try 'em out for yourself! Tell us if you love them or hate them. We want to hear from you! If you have any questions about sizing or need some more guidance, check out our other blog articles or get in touch with us. Email us at support@legsmart.com

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