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When you think of Compression Socks – what comes to mind?

Compression socks have come a long way. The invention and use of compression therapy began in Europe before World War II. Early compression socks were bulky, uncomfortable and sometimes too warm to wear. Over the last 70 years compression stockings have been developed to suit the needs of everyday wearers. They now come in lightweight socks made from stronger materials to provide effective relief from a wide range of preventative to severe venous diseases. The type and degree of compression required depends on the stage of the condition. Compression socks are developed to prevent venous insufficiencies, varicose veins, treatment after vein operations, treatment after sclerotherapy, edema/swelling due to traumatic injury or loss of circulation, support/circulation during travel or pregnancy, lymphatic diseases, venous ulcers and treatment and prevention of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) . There are different classes of compression depending on the condition, for example, 20-30 mmHG for mild venous insufficiency, pregnancy, travel, etc.; as well as many different styles, colors, materials again depending on your condition and daily activities.
Sometimes there is confusion between support hose and compression therapy. The difference between elastic ‘support’ hose and graduated compression stockings is that support hose have the same elasticity along the entire length of the stockings. Medical stockings have the greatest compression at the ankle and gradual decrease going up the calf. By constricting the diameter of the veins, the stockings increase the velocity of the blood flow. The compression also keeps fluids in circulation instead of collecting in the lower leg causing swelling in the ankle/foot.
Sports compression socks help athletes maximize their performance and incorporate wicking materials to keep them cool. It is important to lead a healthy, active lifestyle with the correct equipment and optimal preventative care. The sports compression socks provide valuable support for every discipline in both amateur and competitive sport: the improved circulation in the leg increase the oxygen supply, which is of great benefit. Shorts regeneration times between competitions, a reduction in typical athlete conditions such as swollen feet and ankles and increases stability help you to progress safely.
It is important that you be assessed by a professional who takes all aspects of your health, life style and body type into consideration. Most insurance companies cover compression if prescribed by a medical professional.

“Back” it up with a Brace!

Most people have some type of back problem at one time or another in their lifetime. Back problems can occur anywhere from the neck to the tailbone and can be a result of wear and tear, overuse or injury. Injuries frequently occur when you use your back muscles in activities that you do not do very often such as lifting heavy objects, yard work, painting, etc. Overuse injuries are most often from improper movement or posture. Minor injuries also occur from tripping, falling a short distance or excessive twisting of the spine. Severe back injuries may result from vehicle accidents, falls from significant heights, direct blows, a high-energy fall onto the buttocks, or a penetrating injury such as a stab wound. Common medical conditions/deformities such as ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, kyphosis affect your daily activities, restrict movement and cause different levels of pain. There are many thoughts on the effect of a back brace. Some facts on back braces are:

    • Back braces physically restrict motion or movement
    • Back braces remind the wearer to avoid undesirable movements
    • Back braces help to achieve proper posture
    • Back braces provide some spinal decompression
    • Back braces stabilize the pelvis and spine


A very common myth is that wearing a back brace weakens the abdominal muscles and causes poor body mechanics. Back braces are designed help the wearer achieve proper posture and increase awareness of the position of the pelvis and spine. This constantly reminds individuals of their body positions, making it easier to avoid undesirable postures while in the healing process. By increasing the intra-abdominal pressure, a back support acts much like the stays and support rings of a barrel. If the support rings are tightened a stabilizing effect is achieved. A properly designed spinal support stabilizes the spine and acts in the same way. There are many types of back braces. It is important that the correct brace is selected for the condition or injury but as well, it is as important that the brace fit the shape of the individual. When the patient cannot avoid certain activities, such as work, then the use of a brace is an important part of the treatment process. It is important that you be assessed by a professional who takes all aspects of your health, life style and body type into consideration. Most insurance companies cover braces if prescribed by a medical professional.

Submitted by Jen Estabrooks, Certified Fitter and Owner of Estabrooks Orthopedic Bracing providing no obligation, free assessments at my locations in Dartmouth and Halifax or home visits to those who prefer in home assessment. If you have any questions please contact us via email or call 902-225-3295.


Knee Pain – Is it changing your lifestyle

Do you have knee pain, aching, stiffness and soreness after long periods of inactivity; mild to severe pain after overuse or ascending or descending stairs?  These are common symptoms of Osteoarthritis (OA).  Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis affecting one in ten of Canadian adults.  It can affect any joint but commonly occurs in weight bearing joints such as the knee.  The cartilage (firm, rubbery material) that covers the ends of the bones in normal joints acts as a shock absorber.  Over time, the cartilage may wear away in some areas decreasing its ability to cushion the bone.  As this happens tendons and ligaments stretch, causing pain.  As the condition worsens the bones may rub against each other.    Osteoarthritis can be caused by many factors including heredity, obesity, injury or joint overuse.

A safe, non-invasive viable option is an Osteoarthritis Unloader knee brace specifically designed to treat OA.  It stabilizes the joint, reduces pain and helps to build stronger muscles allowing patients to return to the activities they love whether that is everyday living or sports.  OA braces relieve pain by redistributing the weight bearing load on the painful or affected compartment of the joint to the healthy or unaffected compartment.  Increased function studies have shown that wearing an OA brace can increase daily functions and decrease pain. Patients diagnosed with OA who wear a knee brace will generally feel better in the morning, be more active during the day, and rest more comfortably at night. Braces cannot cure osteoarthritis and may not be right for everyone however, it is a viable and successful solution for many people. The ideal candidates are typically people who are motivated to strengthen their muscles and willing to wear a brace to realize the benefits of this form of treatment.  There are many different types of OA braces designed for all activity levels.  It is important that you be assessed by a professional who takes all aspects of your health, life style and body type into consideration.  Most insurance companies cover OA braces if prescribed by a medical professional.

Jen Estabrooks, Certified Fitter and Owner of Estabrooks Orthopedic Bracing providing no obligation assessments at Cole Harbour Chiropractic Clinic, Cole Harbour; Bluennose Physiotherapy, Halifax or home visits to those who prefer in home assessment. If you have any questions please visit or call 902-225-3295.

Brace it – Protect it – Stay Active!

Skiing and Snowboarding –  These popular winter sports are a great way to stay active.  Although the incidence of injury in both skiing and snowboarding is relatively similar, on the body where these injuries occur are markedly different. Skiers tend to injure the lower extremity – most commonly the knee – while snowboarders are more likely to injure their backs and upper extremity – specifically areas such as the wrist.

The most common knee injury in skiing is the MCL (medial collateral ligament) and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).  They occur for different reasons based on the skier’s skill level, the most common being when the knee tilts inwards and the lower leg is forced forwards. This often happens during a fall or when catching an edge.  Preventing knee injuries when skiing is multifactorial. With the pediatric and youth skier, appropriate strength is required before jumping into ski boots. This also is true for the adult skier. Areas of specific focus should be in the hip stabilizers, knee stabilizers, hamstrings and lower back.  Appropriate equipment is also important.  Always wear a helmet. Also, make sure the binding settings are appropriate for both the weight and skill level of the skier. Knee braces are designed to prevent injury during skiing and provide support and stability after injury to keep you on the slopes.  There are several different kinds of knee braces for ligament protection  – light weight, designed to fit with ski boots provide the highest level of twisting and lateral movement.


The most common snowboard injury is the wrist.  The upper body is used to help generate turning forces on the board. In the event of a loss of balance and a subsequent fall, the instinctive reaction of a snowboarder is to outstretch a hand in order to try and break their fall. This mechanism is commonly known as a ‘FOOSH’ ( Fall Onto an Out Stretched Hand). There are wrist braces designed to provide maximum protection for the wrist while allowing range of motion to match your needs.  Made of carbon fiber, they are incrediblystrong and are designed for high impact sports.

Golf Season is Here – Golfers Elbow – Avoid the Pain!

Golfers elbow is one of the most common, frustrating golf injuries. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the inner side of your elbow sometimes extending along the inner side of your forearm; weakness in your hands and wrists and numbness or tingling that radiates into one or more fingers. It will also get worse when you swing a golf club. 

  • Rest – you need to stop or at least lessen the activity/motion that is irritating your condition.  Ice the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time up to 4 times a day for the first couple of days.
  • Stretch Do three sets of 10 for each stretch.  First, slowly bend your wrist forward and backward as far as you can without excess pain.  Next, stretch your wrist. Keep your elbow straight during this stretch. With one hand, bend the opposite wrist down by pressing the back of your hand and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, stretch the hand back by pressing the fingers in a backward direction and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds.  For mobility, bend your elbow 90 degrees and keep the elbow at your side and bent throughout this exercise. Turn your palm up and hold for five seconds. Slowly turn your palm down and hold for five seconds.
  • Strengthen When the stretching is nearly painless, you can add these strengthening exercises. A can of soup makes a great starting weight. Start with one-half to one pound and work up to four or five pounds over time. Do three sets of 10 for each exercise. To strengthen the wrist flexion, hold the weight in your hand with your palm facing up. Bend your wrist upward. Slowly lower the weight and return to the starting position.  To strengthen wrist extension, hold the weight in your hand with your palm facing down. Slowly bend your wrist upward. Slowly lower the weight to the starting position.  To strengthen your grip, squeeze a rubber ball and hold for five seconds.  To strengthen the movement of your forearm, hold a weight in your hand and bend your elbow 90 degrees, keeping the elbow at your side. Slowly rotate your hand palm up and then palm down.  To strengthen elbow flexion and extension, hold a weight with your palm face up. Slowly bend your elbow so that your hand approaches your shoulder. Then lower the weight slowly until your elbow is completely straight.
  • Take the pressure off – wear a support/brace.  There are many types of golfers elbow braces available.  I recommend the Bauerfeind EpiTrain or the Ossur Airform Elbow Brace  The Bauerfeind EpiTrain Elbow support incorporates two anatomically contoured silicone inserts surrounding the  medial and lateral elbow bones (epicondyles) and lying over the flexor and extensor muscles.  The silicone inserts leave the elbow bones pressure-free and provide an intermittent compression to the soft tissue of the joint, leading to increased circulation, thus aiding in the resorption of swelling and edema. This promotes proprioception, thus heightening sensory awareness in the elbow for increased joint stabilization. The Ossur Airform Elbow Brace focuses compression on the forearm tendons to help decrease the stress at the elbow joint. This stress is the cause of many orthopedic conditions including medial and lateral epicondylitis. The Ossur Airform Elbow Brace is designed to conform and comfortably cushion the sensitive injured area. It is easy to apply and adjustable. 

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