Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Leg Problems Know No Gender Boundaries

ActivSkin Style A677 TAN
A funny thing about poor leg circulation… it doesn’t respect gender boundaries—at least not very much. Although nearly as likely to suffer from varicose veins or chronically achy legs as women, men have always been limited in their options for prevention. As the leading seller of hosiery made for men, ActivSkin is changing all that.

The following article on leg health benefits of men's legwear was originally written as a press release several months ago, and more recently published as an Examiner.com article, as referenced from The Nylon Gene last week. Here is the article as it originally appeared.

by Steve Newman
GRANVILLE/OHIO, USA – September 21, 2009 — If you’re nearing your forties, chances are you’re a man who suffers from leg cramps, achiness, or varicose veins, or you know one who does. You may even be one of those unfortunates to whom Mother Nature chose to send her wake-up call even earlier, possibly in your thirties. If you work in an ‘at-risk’ profession, the problem is even more pervasive. Although most leg support products are directed toward women, up to 45% of American men also suffer from some form of vein problem[i].

To add insult to injury, if you’ve complained to your doctor about it, you’ve probably been told to either try support socks or, if the problem extends above the calf, to use expensive medical-grade compression hosiery. Many men subsequently return to their doctor and either report that the socks don’t address higher up problems, or the medical-grade hosiery are too tight, hot and difficult to put on. Having no ‘middle road’ to offer, medical professionals typically resort to sending their patient to the local drugstore to pick up a pair of L’eggs® Sheer Energy® pantyhose, or something similar. While this is certainly a workable solution, most men are squeamish about wearing women’s hosiery, and as a result, many go without anything to alleviate their pain and discomfort. Of those who have worn women’s brands, they would prefer support hosiery designed for the male body. The new men’s legwear includes such features as a fly opening and sizes up to 6’-4” height.

Some men opt to just ‘grin and bear it’ hoping they can just work through the discomfort. While this may seem to be a workable—albeit unpleasant—solution, when you ignore issues with leg circulation, the consequences do not just go away. Instead, they generally become progressively worse.

The Problem, In A Nutshell

Venous circulation problems arise from a variety of causes. If you are sedentary—sitting for extended periods of time without elevating your legs, or spending many hours standing (cashiers, chefs, surgeons, et al)—these constitute additional risk factors. The veins in your legs do a lot of work carrying all that blood upward to the heart, working against gravity the whole way. To avoid backflow, they are equipped with tiny one-way valves all along their length. When your muscles contract they assist those little valves in forcing blood through your veins. As you age, vein walls can begin to weaken and stretch, making the valves less effective at moving blood, which can begin to pool in the lower legs. Pooled blood places added pressure on the vein walls, exacerbating the problem further and leading to the ‘heavy’ feeling experienced by many men, as well as women, who have venous insufficiency. Weakened blood vessel walls can then begin to bulge under the strain, creating visible signs of varicose veins.

Cramping and achiness generally accompany these visible symptoms, as well. Leg cramps are painful, involuntary muscle contractions occurring mainly in older adults. They can disrupt sleep, cause tenderness, muscle fatigue, and spasms. They are very common, affecting up to 70% of people over age 50, and some studies suggest that roughly one in two persons over 50 suffer from varicose veins[2]. In many cases it is impossible to determine the specific cause, because they can arise from many sources.

Treatment Options

In addition to massage, exercise, improved diet, and drugs—elastic compression therapy can also help when your veins have trouble doing it on their own. This is simply the wearing of nylon/spandex hosiery during the day, which applies sufficient pressure to provide support to leg muscles and veins to facilitate good circulation. Wearing compression legwear enhances blood flow, which gets more oxygen to your leg muscles, energizing them all day. As a result, leg cramps can be diminished or even eliminated altogether by this simple measure.

Not to mention the support provided to weakened blood vessels associated with varicose veins. It doesn’t take much compression to provide some relief. Although they won’t ‘cure’ varicose veins that have already formed, wearing support hosiery can help prevent the condition from progressively worsening, requiring more invasive procedures to treat it. Prevention is the key, because once they appear you can only keep them from getting worse. The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services’ FAQs on varicose veins states, “The single most important thing a person can do to slow the development of new varicose veins is to wear graduated compression support hosiery as much as possible during the day[3].”

New Solutions for Men

ActivSkin packagingWomen have long realized the benefits of support hosiery, having dozens of brands of support tights and pantyhose to choose from. Unfortunately for men, our cultural bias has associated full-length hosiery or tights strictly with women’s wear, and this has prevented many men from discovering an effective solution.

That has changed considerably in the past 10 years, since ActivSkin (http://www.activskin.com/) arrived on the scene and began selling sheer and opaque hosiery designed especially for men. During that time, barriers have fallen and mental paradigms have shifted, as the company has worked tirelessly to develop a masculine concept for legwear that sheds those unwarranted stereotypes, and in so doing provides an avenue for men to proactively pursue improved leg health. Now, men can confidently wear a product that can help ward off advancement of varicose veins and other effects of poor venous circulation. Although several European companies have begun selling men’s hosiery in the ensuing years, ActivSkin is still the only U.S. company doing so, and remains the market leader and innovator in men’s legwear. Their sheer Styles A577, A677 and A2019; and opaque Styles A869/A879 are the most popular for men with leg circulation problems. Style A4012 provides a unique combination of patterned dress socks on the lower leg with a semi-sheer upper portion that is cooler than opaque tights in the warmer months.

As the population ages, we’ve become much more attuned to preventative health measures—preferring proactive to reactive. When men begin seeing early signs of varicose veins, they want to take countermeasures to help prevent it from advancing to a point where they must resort to invasive treatments.

Today’s man has become more confident in his masculinity, too. He is much less prone to be squeamish over products that women have long known to be beneficial. The emerging mindset is, “if it’s helpful, I don’t care if it’s a ‘girls’ or ‘guys’ product. Does it get the job done?” Toward that end, men’s hosiery has emerged from a fringe concept, and is moving past the edges of consumer awareness on it’s way to becoming the next big thing.

Today, men are also more attuned to the aesthetic benefits of support hosiery. ActivSkin legwear comes in a variety of colors and sheerness levels, so men don’t have to forego their shorts just because they’re wearing support legwear. Many an older guy is surprised and flattered when a female acquaintance compliments him on how good his legs look. Unless he opts for colors that contrast his skin, most people don’t even realize he’s wearing hosiery. And when they do, they are often complimentary of his self-confidence for not being restrained by outdated stereotypes. Once upon a time, men weren’t supposed to ‘care’ about their appearance, but that has changed considerably of late, with men using moisturizers, facial cleansers, hair coloring, hair removal, etc. to improve their look and maybe squeeze a few more years of youthful glow out of their body. The same holds true for those guys who would otherwise be ready to hang up their shorts due to self-consciousness over the condition of their legs.

“Our sales for last year were the best ever,” says Steve Newman, director of marketing for ActivSkin. “As men are discovering that legwear can be a truly unisex product, they’re turning to support hosiery in a big way to help keep their legs feeling good.”

There are, of course, no guarantees that wearing compression hose will stop leg cramps, but the company has received dozens of testimonials to that effect (several of which are posted on their web site) and has helped hundreds, if not thousands of men find relief. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and look into it further.

[1] U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, The National Women’s Health & Information Center ((http://www.womenshealth.gov/FAQ/varicose-spider-veins.cfm#C)
[2] ibid.
[3] ibid, (http://www.womenshealth.gov/FAQ/varicose-spider-veins.cfm#K)


  1. Great article Steve, keep them coming!!

  2. Perfect products.Please back package picture for more details.

  3. Steve,

    In your article, you stated "Having no ‘middle road’ to offer, medical professionals typically resort to sending their patient to the local drugstore to pick up a pair of L’eggs® Sheer Energy® pantyhose, or something similar." Fair enough. I see this as an excellent opportunity for a marketing effort to physicians about Activskin. Have you inititated any ads for medical journals, etc?

  4. awesome article! I had no idea of this :/

  5. Hmmm "womenshealth" why women's? men's not human men's is machine

  6. You're referring to the footnote links that referenced H&HS literature on women's leg health. I see this as illustrating the lack of consideration of the existence of a similar leg health issue with men. Although the source material provides evidence that men are as likely as women to complain of leg circulation issues, a solution to it is not even addressed. In the past, as my article states, men have had to just put up with the leg discomfort, because 'men don't wear support hose'. Now that we've broken new ground with the men's legwear trend, that's no longer true.

  7. Hi Steve
    Im a truck driver and I use your product everyday,I usally wear the colors that are more like skin tone, and the darker color for dress. I want to promote your product so men have an option in wearing hosery.I cant say enough about the confort,I wear them with shorts in the summer months and find that people dont even care what people choose to wear. I do get some lookers sometimes, but pay no attention.Keep up the great product and hope to see in all stores across the country very soon.

  8. Hey Mike, thanks for your comments. Support legwear is perfect for truckers. Although I don't do it frequently, I have occasionally driven a truck on all-day trips, and I know my legs feel loads better at the end of the day when I've been wearing a pair of full support ActivSkin A2019s or similar.

    It's good that you're so willing to use yourself to promote the male legwear trend. People need to see 'regular guys' such as yourself wearing them in ordinary settings, so they'll begin to assimilate them into their everyday expectations.

    I think that's beginning to take place now. I've been wearing them pretty much out in the open wherever I go for quite some time, and no one gives me the slightest bit of difficulty about it. Even though it's still in the minority, many people have at least heard of it, and there's not much of a startle factor when they recognize you're wearing legwear--if they do notice at all.


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