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How to Buy Compression Socks: Men, Women, Medical, Flying

Last Updated February 3, 2021

Looking to Buy a Pair of Compression Socks?

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Image you’re sitting in front of your flickering computer screen, fantasizing about your next vacation. You think back to last time, however, and remember how your legs blew up like a balloon after flying.

Did you know that compression socks can help? They decrease the risk of blood clots in your legs while traveling by improving blood flow and lessening swelling.

Or perhaps you’re looking forward to your next athletic victory and could really use some help recovering from your last workout. Many people wear compression socks for better performance, faster recoveries, and more comfort following intense sports training.

Compression stockings prevent serious medical risks for many people, and they come in various strengths and sizes so you can choose the one that is best for you. Before jumping into how to buy compression socks, you should know what these socks are and how they can help you.

What are Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings are stretchy, snug-fitting socks. The socks fit tightly around the ankle and are looser further up the leg. Both socks and leg sleeves are available.

stocking for trekkers

Who Uses Them?

Compression socks are frequently worn by people:

  • With circulation problems
  • With diabetes, varicose veins, or deep vein thrombosis
  • Who just had surgery
  • Who sit or stand for long periods of time at work
  • Who spend extended amounts of time in airplanes (such as pilots)
  • With limited or no mobility
  • Who play sports, run, or are professional athletes
compression socks for exercises

People with certain medical conditions, however, should avoid wearing compression stockings. This includes those with peripheral vascular disease, open wounds, and severe diabetic neuropathy. If you are thinking about wearing compression socks, it is important to talk to your doctor first.

How do Compression Socks Work?

Compression socks apply pressure to the blood vessels in your legs. The arteries move the oxygen-rich blood to your muscles to help relax them before returning the blood to the heart for more oxygen. Compression socks can help with leg aches, swelling, and fatigue. They also prevent the feeling of dizziness some people get when standing up and minimize discomfort during heavy workouts.

sportswoman wearing compression socks

Compression socks prevent blood from pooling in your veins and producing blood clots. This can be life saving because a blood clot that is circulating in your body can get stuck in dangerous places like your lungs.

Some athletes like basketball players, runners, and tri-athletes wear compression gear on both their arms and legs. Wearing these ensures better blood flow, which provides oxygen to the muscles and prevents tissue damage. Moreover, lymph circulation and oxygen-rich blood help muscles to recover more quickly.

how do compression socks work

When Should You Wear Compression Socks?

As already mentioned, compression socks help improve circulation and promote blood flow in the legs, preventing swelling and blood clots. Keep reading for a brief outline of few other scenarios where you may consider wearing compression socks.

Common Times to Wear Compression Socks

Prolonged Periods of Sitting: Some people refer to the calf muscle as a second heart. During movement, pressurized veins in the lower leg act as a steady pump and allow blood to flow back to the heart. If you’re sitting all day, your muscles work less and cause blood to pool in the lower part of the legs.

compression sock swelling

Prolonged Periods of Standing: Walking supports better blood flow because the calf is used as a muscle pump. Unfortunately, however, standing in the same position for a long time reduces the effectiveness of this system. Trade workers, hospitality staff, and retail employees should consider using compression socks to improve circulation. After wearing them, your legs will feel less fatigued and you will have more energy for your work.

Exercise: Compression can help promote post-exercise recovery. If you wear compression socks during and after exercise, you will experience less muscle soreness in the legs.

compression stockings for airplanes

Traveling: Traveling far distances can also cause blood to pool in your legs. While flying on an airplane, prolonged sitting increases your risk of developing blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. Compression therapy ensures your safely reach your destination without any unwanted venous side effects.

Trendy Socks: Medical and over-the-counter socks are available in a wide variety of styles, materials, and colors. There are both casual and professional compression socks available to meet your needs. You get socks for work or just enjoy the athleisure aesthetic of compression socks.

compression socks for sitting

Before Buying Compression Socks

Before buying, there are a few things you should consider so that you get the maximum benefits from your compression socks.

Size and Strength

You need to consider both the strength and size of your compression socks before buying.

The compression level you need varies based on your reason for wearing them. Available options for compression range from mild to extra firm.

You also need to consider the size of your compression socks. Before swelling occurs, measure the circumference of the calf and ankle, as well as the length of the calf. Use the sizing guide for a proper fit. Improperly fitted socks will not have the same effects as correctly fitted ones.

compression socks sizes


When looking at compression socks, it is best to first consider quality since a low-quality sock will not deliver good results. Choose compression gear with excellent workmanship and material, then look at the cost.

red compression socks

Kinds of Compression Socks

Compression socks are available in a variety of lengths to cover different parts of the leg. The most common style of compression sock rises to just below the knee length and is used to treat DVT, but you can also buy thigh-high and pantyhose style compression gear.

Compression stockings are also available in different levels of pressure and should feel snug. Before moving forward, know that mmHg stands for millimeters of mercury and is a unit of pressure. Lower numbers of mmHg indicate mild compression, which works well for people who stand or sit for long periods of time. If you are wearing compression socks to prevent DVT or address another venous problem, then you need a firmer fit.

How to Buy the Right Compression Socks

With so many different types of socks available, it can seem difficult to choose! The following steps can help with your decision.

different types of compression socks

Step 1: Choose Compression

For Sports Recovery and Daily Wear: 15-20 mmHg

This is the lowest amount pressure level, and it is great for any lifestyle. Mild compression socks are great for sports, travel, and daily wear. They are available in a variety of materials that are comfortable to wear and help improve circulation.

Medical and Sports Recovery For Mild Symptoms: 20-30 mmHg

People usually wear 20-30 mmHg strength compression socks if they need a bit more support. This type of compression sock is ideal for treating spider veins, mild ankle swelling, varicose veins. It is also worn by patients who are recovering from surgery.

Medical or Daily Wear for Moderate to Severe Symptoms: 30-40 mmHg

This compression strength prevents blood clots, severe varicose veins, lymphedema, severe swelling, and high-risk post-operative conditions.

compression socks for sports

Step 2: Choose Between Socks and Stockings

Knee-High: Below the Knee

Knee-high compression socks go past the curvature of your calf and stop below the bend of your knee. Some compression stockings and socks can pull up over your knee because they are stretchy. Be aware, however, that pulling them too high over your knee may cause them to slide down or roll. This can be both uncomfortable and dangerous! Knee-high socks work great if your swelling is confined to the lower part of your leg.

Thigh-High: Rises to the Top of the Thigh

Thigh-high compression stockings stop at the top of your thigh near the fold of the buttock and cover the entire leg. They are great for people who have swelling throughout the leg.

Waist-High Pantyhose or Maternity Pantyhose

Waist-high compression stockings rise to your hips and help bring swelling up and out of your legs. Pregnant women have the option of wearing plus-size or maternity pantyhose that pull over the stomach. You should consider waist-high, thigh-high, or pantyhose compression stockings if you have swelling on or above the knee.

socks for working on system

Looking to Buy a Pair of Compression Socks?

Click the button below to see the lineup of ComproGear Compression Socks:

Step 3: Find Your Style

Whether you’re a fashionista, a high-powered athlete, or a professional surgeon, there is a compression stocking to that is perfect for you.

Opaque Legging Material: Men’s Dress Socks

Comfortable for men, this middle of the road fabric is one of the most common styles of compression socks. It is strong enough to provide compression to your legs, but it also looks good with professional clothing. Opaque fabrics are more durable than sheer stockings and ideal for varicose veins, swelling, and post-op conditions.

wearing compression socks steps

Sheer Fabric For Women

Sheer materials are transparent, lightweight, and fashionable, and they make it easy to pair compression with daily life. Unfortunately, however, the fabric is not strong enough to prevent most types of swelling and is less resistant to runs and snags.

High-tech Blend, Wool or Cotton Sports Material

If you wear compression socks for running, you will need to make sure you buy a material that is moisture-wicking and provides temperature control. Athletic compression stockings are made with durable material to tolerate more wear and tear. Casual or sports compression socks can also be worn daily for swelling, varicose veins, and post-surgery. These socks are typically only available in lower compression levels like 15-20mmHg and 20-30 mmHg.

different designs of compression socks

What Are Your Next Steps?

Compression socks improve the flow of blood, which reduces swelling in the legs. There are so many sock types, sizes, and compression levels available, that it can seem difficult to choose the best one for you! This guide is a great place to start looking for your perfect compression sock. Remember to always discuss your decision with a medical provider before making your final purchase.

Looking to Buy a Pair of Compression Socks?

Click the button below to see the lineup of ComproGear Compression Socks: