Graduated Compression Leggings – (What’s the Difference?)

Graduated compression leggings for women
Graduated compression leggings for women


Compression leggings do more than most people think they do. As fashionable as most of them look, they can help to increase blood flow, prevent strain, and reduce muscle fatigue. Unfortunately, the term “compression leggings” is not exactly regulated, so some brands advertise their leggings as compression garments but they lack sufficient benefits of compression. This article will guide you in choosing compression leggings that will meet all your compression needs.

What are Graduated Compression Leggings?

What are compression leggings
What are graduated compression leggings

Compression leggings, which are often very stylish and beautiful, have come to stay. They do more than just cover your buttocks and absorb your sweat. Extending from your waist to your ankle or calf, their main function is to reduce injury and improve recovery time.

Compression has been known to help all categories of people including athletes, travelers, sick people, or just people who feel they can benefit from a little more compression on your legs. Once you find your best fit and style, you will enjoy comfort, better health, and improved performance. Although most people believe graduated leggings are expensive, there are some lovely options that do not cost as much as your fitness class.

Compression leggings do not necessarily have to be plain and boring. There are many beautiful colors and aesthetics that can get you constant compliments. For women, some of these leggings feature flattering seams, slimming waistbands, and high waists to enhance your features.

Some of the best compression leggings feature special, snazzy technology that promote the effectiveness of the garment. One of such is the in-built compression panels that are biomechanically positioned to reduce the build up of lactate and reduce soreness. Another new technology is the advanced seam placement that prevents chafing.

Compression leggings have special technology
Compression leggings have special technology

Benefits of Wearing Graduated Compression Leggings: They offer numerous benefits to anyone who needs extra muscle support. If you get your perfect fit, you can use them as all day wear and workout classes. Apart from being versatile, comfortable, beautiful, and flattering, here are some other benefits of wearing graduated leggings:

Versatile compression leggings
Versatile graduated compression leggings
  • They improve circulation as well as blood flow. By so doing, more nutrients and oxygen will be delivered to the muscles.
  • They can help to control your body temperatures.
  • With compression leggings, you will delay the onset of muscle soreness that often happens after a day or two of strenuous exercise.
  • Most of them are made from moisture-wicking fabric that helps to repel moisture away from the body. This allows for easy evaporation and breathability.
  • Graduated compression leggings also enhance proprioception, which has to do with the way you sense the position of your body in space. Using compression leggings can help to create muscle movement aspect that is more efficient and effective.
  • The compression leggings also reduce time of recovery from strains and injuries.
  • There are so many physiological advantages that compression leggings offer. They boost confidence, increase motivation, and make you feel great.
  • Also, wearing graduated compression leggings can help to flush out waste products like lactic acid and carbon dioxide from your body.
  • Eco-friendly people can go for the sustainable options made from recycled materials.
Graduated leggings
Graduated compression leggings

When to Use Full-Foot Compression Leggings: The most general type of compression leggings with graduated levels are the ones that are footless. However, there are full-foot ones too. Since the vascular system of the leg begins in the foot, it is sometimes important to give that area some extra support. When you give your foot and ankle some additional support, your veins and valves which begin in that region will also benefit from the support.

Full-foot leggings is a style that is often recommended for advanced cases of venous insufficiency and edema. It is also sometimes recommended for people who are still recovering from surgery. Be sure to position the leggings correctly so that they do not make your ankles swell by creeping up the calf.

Full-foot compression leggings should cover your ankles
Full-foot compression leggings should cover your ankles

Compression Leggings vs. Compression Stockings

By all means, compression leggings can be used in place of graduated compression stockings. This is because compression stockings come in styles that look very much like compression leggings. There are knee length, thigh length, and pantyhose styles of compression stockings. Since compression is determined by millimeters of Mercury (mmHg), it is safe to use compression leggings in place of a style of compression stockings that has the same compression level.

Compression Leggings vs. Compression Tights: If you are wondering if there are any differences between graduated leggings and graduated compression tights, well, you are not alone. A quick look at the internet reveals that both garments are often used interchangeably. Both of them are known to boost confidence and enhance performance for sports and recreational activities.  There are so many mix-ups and confusions because the two garments look alike at first glance.

Compression tights
Compression tights

The major difference between compression leggings with graduated level and tights is the weight of the fabric they are made from. Just like pantyhose, non-compression leggings and tights are often made from sheer materials. Meanwhile, the ones with compression are often made of Polyester, Lycra, and some other blends. Compression tights are considered to be sheer legging.

Compression tights for runners
Compression tights for runners

Another difference between compression leggings and tights is their general purpose. Compression leggings are often used as fashion wear while compression tights are specially designed for athletic performance and activewear. However, the bottom line is that since compression leggings and tights are body-hugging and footless, they are both considered substitutes and can be used interchangeably.

Factors to Consider when Shopping for Compression Leggings: Compression gear comes in different forms, and one of them is the compression leggings. Shopping for these stylish and highly effective garments can be quite stressful and confusing. Most of the compression leggings that are sold in athletic stores or department stores are elastic clothes and not compression garments. All they do is squeeze different parts of the body uniformly with the aim of either flattening trouble areas, sucking some areas in, and flattering some areas. They offer the sensation of being supportive but lack the FDA-registered, carefully controlled and measured compression that all graduated compression garments should have.

Compression leggings must have the effect of enhancing circulation by applying specific decreasing compression from the ankle to the knee, up the thighs, and to the waist. It is important to equip yourself with some major factors before going out in search of the best leggings. Find below some of the main factors that will help you make a great choice.

Size: Technically, compression leggings should be quite tight, therefore, they look smaller than regular leggings. This can be quite confusing at first glance because it may look very small. However, when you wear it, it should fit snugly. To ensure you get your best fit, check the sizing guide of each brand you come across.

Compression leggings should fit snugly
Compression leggings should fit snugly

Level of compression: If you are used to wearing regular, traditional leggings, you may be expecting your leggings to fit same way. What you should expect, when buying a pair of compression leggings, is that they should be tighter but still comfortable. Compression is often targeted at the ankles, calves, knees, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads. Just like other compression garments, these compression leggings come in different ranges of compression or pressure. It is advised that if you are getting graduated leggings for the first time, you should opt for a lower compression level. This will allow you to get comfortable with the feel of these medical-grade leggings before committing to a higher level of compression that will be perfect for you.

Entry users should start with lower compression level
Entry users should start with lower compression level

If you wear the right compression leggings, they will help to push blood away from your legs and back towards your heart. The additional pressure will stabilize your muscles and reduce vibrations when running.

Test to make sure your compression leggings are moisture-wicking

When you find a pair of compression leggings that you like, pass it through a moisture management test. This quick test will help you discover whether the leggings are moisture-wicking or not. Note that graduated compression garments have to be moisture-wicking, especially if you need them for sports or you live in a hot environment. Here is how to test your compression leggings:

  • Drop some water on the inner material of the leggings. This is the part that touches your skin directly.
  • Look closely to see how the water spreads out. If the water spreads out quickly, you can be sure it is water-wicking. This means that if you get sweaty when wearing the leggings, the moisture will evaporate easily. Hence, you will remain cool and dry when wearing compression leggings. If, however, the water beads on the fabric instead of spreading out quickly, you can be sure that you will be left feeling sweaty and sticky when wearing it.

Stretch recovery: Your compression leggings should be able to stretch in all directions so that they can be in tune with your walking steps. If your leggings do not move with you, they will chaff at your legs.

How well do your leggings recover after you stretch them? High quality compression leggings do not slack and lose shape when you stretch. Instead, they return to their original position. The ability of your compression leggings to recover fast after being stretch will determine how long it will last without becoming slack.

Washability: It is important to consider ease of washing when buying any compression garment. Most brands are gracious enough to include washing instructions in their product labels. If you follow the instructions, you should not have any trouble using your compression leggings over and over again. Athletes who engage in trail and mud races have to ensure they get compression leggings that clean up well after use.

Make sure they clean up easily
Make sure they clean up easily

Most people prefer leggings that are machine-washable because it is easier to just throw them into the machine. However, this may not work well for some fabrics. If you do not like to hand-wash, you should go for leggings that are machine-washable.


The leggings should incorporate fibers that can keep you cool even when you are building up sweat. Comfort is also another important factor to consider in any fabric you choose to go with. No matter how good looking a pair of compression leggings is, you will not be able to perform, recover or enjoy the benefits of compression if you are uncomfortable. Compression leggings should be breathable, moisture-wicking, antimicrobial, lightweight, and feel smooth to the touch. Also, you can look for extra warmth, sun protection, and softness in your fabric. Some people prefer the fabric to be thick enough to squat comfortably in.

Breathable compression leggings with mesh
Breathable compression leggings with mesh


To determine the amount of support you will need from your compression leggings, you should consider what you will be wearing them for. Your graduated leggings should provide support where you need it the most. Mostly, extra support is needed around the knees in order to provide more stabilization while walking, running, or exercising. If you intend to wear compression leggings for walks, jogs or other simple trainings, you do not need to spend too much on extra support technology.

However, if you are engaging in strenuous exercise, you may want to spend the extra money on support. Wearing compression leggings with the right amount of support will help to reduce muscle pain and inflammation. You will also enjoy improved endurance performance.


The waistband of your compression leggings is usually a matter of personal preference and comfort. Your waistband should be durable and not slack after a short time, and this depends on the material used. As for style, there are high-rise waistbands and double waistbands some of which are made of breathable mesh fabric. To ensure that the compression leggings give a perfect fit and also avoid the slacking that comes with using elastic, some brands prefer to use adjustable drawcords on the waist.


If you are trying out compression leggings for the first time, consider trying an option that is more affordable. You do not have to drain your account in search of a great pair of compression leggings that will meet your needs and still be durable. There are some budget-friendly options that you can get and make use of until you can save up and buy more high-end options. The advantage of pricier compression leggings is the special technology used in designing them. If you feel you can do without these special features, you can stick to the more budget-friendly leggings. However, endeavor not to go too cheap, because you will most likely get what you pay for.

Get value for the money
Get value for the money

Special in-built features

Look out for special features that add more value to the graduated compression leggings. Some brands feature reflective designs that will make it easy to see you in low light. This feature can come in handy when you are walking or jogging at night or dawn. There is also the pocket feature so you can put your phone, keys or other small effects while carrying on with your activities. If you have some other gear that can make up for the lack of pockets in your compression leggings, this feature may not really matter.

Compression leggings with side pocket
Compression leggings with side pocket

There is also the multi-layered warp feature that helps to create compression, engage your muscles, and regulate your body temperature. For people who need extra protection from the sun, some brands offer UPF 50 protection and other similar technology. This will make it easier for you to go on marathons in the sun.


Graduated compression leggings have somewhat become a normal attire in modern society. If you are yet to feel the utter satisfaction, the exhilaration of additional energy, the gentle massage, and other benefits that compression leggings have to offer, go get a pair at They are so amazing you would want to walk, talk, sleep, run, work, and do everything else in them.

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