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What Level of Compression Socks Do I Need? (A Guide to mmHg Pressure Levels)

Last Updated February 3, 2021

Compression socks may look like a regular pair of socks or stockings, but they have something extra to give. Compression hosiery exerts continuous pressure on your limbs to provide a myriad of health benefits. This is why they are also known as pressure socks. Many people use compression wear as an efficient tool to promote blood flow, prevent swollen feet, control vein diseases and reduce the symptoms of edema.

Want to Stop Leg Swelling and Improve Athletic Performance?

ComproGear Compression Socks are designed to stop swelling instantly!

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

Gravity is always working against your heart as it pumps blood throughout the body. As a result, your blood and lymph fluids experience a constant gravitational pull downwards. Although our circulatory system is able to pump nutrient-rich oxygenated blood to all parts of the body, gravity can make that more difficult.

legs with and without pressure
Compression hose apply pressure to the veins in order to improve circulation.

Standing or sitting in a similar position for a long time can result in the pooling of blood in the lower extremities. Your blood circulation may also be poor if you suffer from venous insufficiency, varicose veins or have a history of blood clots.

Compression socks are your most reliable defence against the adverse effects of gravity. The are usually made from durable elastic material and breathable fabrics strong enough to compress the veins of the legs, reducing their diameter. This increases the pressure of the fluids inside your veins and keeps circulation healthy.

 Pressure Levels of Compression Socks

runner stretching
Athletes can benefit from compression sleeves during and after workouts.

Support garments such as compression socks or sleeves all have one common purpose: to apply constant pressure on a specific part of the wearer’s body. Despite a wide range of brands being available on the market today, the standard units of mmHg (millimeters of mercury) are used by all to classify compression stockings.

chart for showing variation in pressure on leg
Graduated compression is strongest at the ankle or foot.

Often times, compression is applied in a graduated pattern, meaning the pressure slowly decreases from the bottom to the top of the compression garment. The ankle region will have the maximum amount of compression while the knee region (in case of knee-high socks) will have less compression.

Which Compression Level is Best for You?

white garments
Choosing the right pressure rating is important.

Each individual can find the compression range best suited to their condition by learning about the classification of compression socks. Pressure socks with compression levels that are 20-30mmHg or lower do not require a doctor’s prescription and can be picked up online through ComproGear or select pharmacies.

For a very high compression range, you will need to consult your doctor and ask for a prescription. Higher pressure ratings should only be worn when recommended by a physician, as some medical conditions don’t respond well to compression hose.

Let’s take a look at the common pressure ratings for pressure socks you’ll find on the market:

Light Compression: 8-15 mmHg

what does it mean?

A light compression range of 8-15 mmHg is available over the counter. This compression level is gentle enough to be tolerated well by nearly any wearer. Garments falling in this range can have several benefits:

  • Ideal for individuals who occasionally experience minor swelling or edema symptoms.
  • Individuals who want to prevent the feelings of soreness, pain and fatigue from long periods of sitting at work or while traveling.
  • People who do not have any specific leg conditions or diseases but who wish to protect their feet and ankles from minor injuries.
  • Pregnant mothers during the initial stages of their pregnancy can also use light compression socks to improve blood flow through the legs and prevent varicose veins.
  • For people who want to stay fit and keep themselves feeling energized.

 Mild Compression: 15-20 mmHg

does it matter?

This mild compression option spans from 15-20 mmHg. It is the shortest of the compression ranges. Support garments in this range are ideal for:

  • Patients suffering from minor to moderate spider veins or varicose veins or who are prone to them.
  • Individuals who face minor to moderate swelling and edema symptoms.
  • Reducing the risks of DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis and ECS or Economy Class Syndrome. 
  • Pregnant mothers who suspect symptoms of venous insufficiency and varicose veins.
  • People who prefer a more gentle squeeze on their legs and feel uncomfortable wearing moderate or high-compression stockings.
  • Long-distance travellers who experience edema, swollen legs and discomfort during commuting via road or by air for long hours.
  • Many athletes, runners and workout enthusiasts also prefer a mild compression range.  

 Moderate Compression: 20-30 mmHg

A moderate level of pressure is applied with 20-30 mmHg compression stockings. This range is the most common and also the most readily available. Although they are labelled as Class 1 medical-grade garments, you do not need a prescription to get a pair. Moderate compression is perfect for:

  • Patients with moderate to severe edema, swollen feet and ankles.
  • Suitable to control the progression of varicose veins, DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and spider veins.
  • Individuals recovering from surgery, medical procedures or post-sclerotherapy treatment.
  • Nurses, emergency crews, medical staff and doctors who endure long, strenuous shifts.
  • Pregnant mothers who are fighting leg conditions like varicose veins, spider veins or lymphedema.
  • People who recently underwent treatment for ulcers, thrombophlebitis, post-thrombotic syndrome and may be prone to such conditions in the future.
  • Gymnasts and some football players also prefer moderate compression for enhanced muscle performance.

Want to Stop Leg Swelling and Improve Athletic Performance?

ComproGear Compression Socks are designed to stop swelling instantly!

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

 High Compression: 30-40 mmHg

  reinforced heel
A good pair of 30-40 mmHg compression socks will have reinforced heels and toes.

High compression or medical-grade Class-ll support garments offer a pressure rating of 30-40 mmHg. Some clinics refer to this range as firm compression. These high compression levels can be useful for:

  • Severe cases of edema, varicose veins, DVT, spider veins and progressing lymphedema.
  • Patients with chronic orthostatic hypotension and rapidly increasing venous insufficiencies in the legs.
  • Rarely for post-surgical recovery or treatment of active ulcer manifestations.
  • Prevent the reappearance of ulcers, varicose veins and clotting after surgery.

Very High Compression: 40-50 mmHg

These medical-grade Class-III support garments offer the highest level of compression. You can buy these with a doctor’s prescription and must use them only under your physician’s recommendation. Remember that 40-50 mmHg is a firm compression and can be detrimental to your health if not used according to professional medical advice. They can be helpful in wound management and some severe cases of lymphedema.

Want to Stop Leg Swelling and Improve Athletic Performance?

ComproGear Compression Socks are designed to stop swelling instantly!

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

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What Other Factors Should You Consider?

measurement chart
Taking measurements is an important part of planning your compression sock purchase.

Compression socks of all pressure levels come in a variety of lengths, sizes and styles. Overall, the compression level of your compression socks is the most significant factor when it comes to choosing a pair. Here are a few additional points you need to keep in mind:


Compression hosiery works on the principle of pressure application. For the graduated pressure to be effective, the size of the stockings must be precise. If you wear a size too larger or too small, the compression socks will lose their effectiveness.

It is best that you take measurements of the leg, and take a good look at the size chart before ordering. If you purchase your compression hose from ComproGear and find that the size is incorrect, you may exchange or return the pair accordingly.

funny meme about correct size

Suitable Height

You will find compression hosiery in knee-high, thigh-high and pantyhose (waist-high) styles. Keep these options in mind when you are ordering a pair. Depending on your attire, health condition or personal preference, each style option can cover a selected portion of your leg.

Some people prefer pantyhose or stockings with waist attachments while others are more comfortable in knee highs. Thigh-high compression socks are a great option if you prefer more coverage or need an extra layer to stay warm.

funny meme, garments talking

Preferred Shape or Configuration

Gradient pressure socks are available in an open-toe style, as a footless sleeve or as a fully closed-toe sock. Compression sleeves are useful for both arms and legs as they do not have a section for the foot. Closed-toe socks look like regular socks; they will cover the entire foot.

funny meme about my name is socky

Toeless or open-toe socks keep your toes uncovered to allow for more movement. Open-toe socks will come in handy if you sweat a lot in hot weather or have skin conditions such as corns or callouses. For the same reasons, compression sleeves are a great option in the summertime. You’ll even be able to wear sandals or flip-flops with them.

Some modern pressure sock designs include a zipper. The zippered compression stockings usually have a side zipper along the calf to make it easier to get your socks on and off.

mismatch colored garments

Compression Socks and mmHg

people with different colored garments for legs

Compression levels will determine how firmly your pressure hose apply pressure to the legs.

Look for the correct mmHg rating to choose your socks according to your purpose, your medical condition or the severity of your symptoms.

Want to Stop Leg Swelling and Improve Athletic Performance?

ComproGear Compression Socks are designed to stop swelling instantly!

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