If you struggle to find 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg, 20 mmHg to 25 mmHg, or 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg knee-high hosiery that fits comfortably around your calves, wide-leg compression socks might be the answer. Often sold as knee-high socks, wide-leg compression socks are tailored to accommodate calves that need a bit of extra space.
You can often find thigh-high or ankle compression hosiery if knee-high hosiery doesn’t suit your needs. While regular compression 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg, 20 mmHg to 25 mmHg, or 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg knee high hosiery will be too constrictive and may impair your blood flow, a pair of wide-calf hosiery can do just the opposite.
These specialized wide-fit compression sleeves boost circulation, energizing your legs and improving vein function.
Both women and men can wear compression stockings, also called pressure hosiery. Their elastic weave hugs your legs, providing strong vein support, care and relief.
Benefits of Wide-Leg Medical Hosiery
Compression socks have several major benefits. From promoting vein health to providing exercise gains, there is sure to be a perk for you. Let’s take a more detailed look at the ways in which 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg, 20 mmHg to 25 mmHg, or 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg knee high hosiery can benefit your health:
Controlling leg swelling, or edema is possible with the right pair of compression garments. A pair of 15 – 20 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg or 30 – 40 mmHg medical hosiery are capable of boosting your blood flow.
They can also help to circulate lymph. Lymph is a pale fluid surrounding your cells that carries infection-fighting white blood cells. Since lymph travels through vessels that empty into the bloodstream, expediting lymph movement can decrease leg swelling accordingly.
Knee-high and thigh-high wide-calf compression socks are able to ward off varicose and spider veins for this same reason.
The veins in our legs are vulnerable to hosting blood clots that don’t dissolve. A clot that forms in a deep leg vein can travel through the bloodstream and lodge in a vital organ. Medically, this type of clot is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
If the blood clot wedges inside a lung artery, it can block blood flow to the rest of the body. This acute condition, called a pulmonary embolism, is fatal in the absence of swift medical care. A common trigger for DVT is being sedentary. This is why doctors suggest wearing knee- or thigh-high compression socks during long drives and flights of four hours or more.
Clots can also result from prolonged bed rest, such as after certain types of surgery. In women, clots can develop from taking birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
Thankfully, wide-calf compression socks and compression stockings improve venous flow through the legs, substantially lowering the risk of DVT. If you’re at risk for clots, wearing these knee-high or thigh-high hosiery can be lifesaving!
If you spend your workdays standing, compression stockings of any pressure level will be a godsend for you. Cashiers, restaurant waitstaff, nurses and flight attendants can benefit from a 15 – 20 mmHg or 20 – 30 mmHg compression sock.
The fabric has a massaging effect, activating leg muscles and preventing the feeling of heaviness. Since wide-calf 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg, 20 mmHg to 25 mmHg, or 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg knee high hosiery and medical garments also curb leg swelling, walking becomes easier.
In the case of existing varicose veins, knee-high or thigh-high pressure hosiery will provide blessed relief from the aching and throbbing.
In 2015, scientists analyzed exercise data from SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE, PubMed and Web of Science, along with other relevant journal articles. The researchers found that compression gear can help runners jog longer while incurring less muscle inflammation, injury, and pain.
Precautionary Measures for Wearing Medical Hosiery
Note that, for certain diagnoses, all 15 – 20 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg and 30 – 40 mmHg knee-high or thigh-high hosiery are prohibited.
One such disease is peripheral neuropathy, a condition in which nerve damage in the extremities causes leg pain, numbness and weakness. Since sensation in the feet and legs is impaired, it can be difficult to tell when a sock is too tight, jeopardizing blood flow. As a result, compression sleeves are also dangerous for those with peripheral artery disease.
Compression garments may make skin infections and irritations worse. This is due to friction against the skin caused by pulling the 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg, 20 mmHg to 25 mmHg, or 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg knee high hosiery on and off.
The close-fitting fabric can also prevent airflow or trap sweat near the skin. If you have a medical condition, it is always best to consult with your primary care doctor before buying compression garments.
What to Look for in Wide-Leg Medical Garments
To enjoy the full benefit of your wide-leg compression socks and ensure a comfy fit, you’ll want to keep the following in mind as you shop for a pair. To find compression hose your legs will love, look for these features:
Compression garments are classified as either non-gradient or gradient. Non-gradient medical hosiery exerts an equal amount of pressure down the leg. Consequently, they don’t enhance blood flow.
Instead, look for graduated styles of compression sleeves or compression hosiery. The gradient compression will begin snug at your ankle, easing off the pressure as they rise up your leg.
This feature has a squeezing effect. The sustained force overcomes gravity, pushing blood towards your heart and enabling better distribution of blood throughout the body. The goal of gradient compression garments is to prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
Graduated wide-calf compression socks are commonly sold over-the-counter as knee-high or thigh-high socks and stockings in a variety of pressure ratings: 15 – 20 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg or 30 – 40 mmHg.
Wide-calf rated knee high or thigh high gear must be more elastic than standard compression socks. A quality compression sock will be made with sturdy fabric that can resist tugging and stretching. Look for a compression sock or hose made with extra spandex.
Since rated knee high or thigh high gear can reduce airflow, you may also want to look for a sock made of moisture-wicking fabric or enhanced breathability. Antimicrobial fabrics are ideal for reducing odors and are commonly used in compression hosiery.
The wide-calf compression socks sold by ComproGear are 65 percent nylon and 35 percent spandex, offering daylong comfort without leg constriction.
Rated wide-calf knee-high or thigh-high gear has different ratings based on how much force they apply. This effect is measured like blood pressure, in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The higher the numbers, the greater the compression.
Rated wide-calf knee-high or thigh-high gear can be purchased in 8-15mmHg, 15 – 20mmHg, 20 – 30mmHg or 30 – 40 mmHg. Choosing the pressure that is right for you depends on your reason for buying compression socks. Here are the four pressure ratings and their corresponding merits:
8-15mmHg, Light Support
– Averts limb fatigue and aching.
– Invigorates the legs during prolonged standing and sitting.
– Controls minor swelling.
– Prevents varicose and spider veins, including during pregnancy.
15-20mmHg, Medium Support
- Protects against DVT
- Eases mild leg fatigue, aching, and edema
- Relieves the discomfort of small varicose veins
- After corrective surgery, curbs the reappearance of spider and varicose veins
20-30mmHg, Firm Support
- Controls moderate edema, varicose veins, and spider veins
- Promotes healing of venous ulcers
- Prevents orthostatic hypotension, a feeling of wooziness when rising from a seated or horizontal position
- Post corrective surgery hinders recurrent varicose and spider veins
- Lowers DVT risk
- Decreases vein inflammation beneath a clot (superficial thrombophlebitis)
30-40mmHg, Extra Firm Support Compression Socks
- Rated 30 – 40 mmHg knee high or thigh high gear is to be worn ONLY under a doctor’s supervision
- Treat severe varicose veins and edema with Wide Calf Compression Socks
- Can be used post corrective surgery to combat the return of varicose and spider veins
- Prevents dizziness upon standing
- Hinders DVT formation
- Manages venous ulcers
If your doctor has specified a pressure rating, adhere to that. Otherwise, if you’ve never worn rated knee high or thigh high gear, opt for 20-30 mmHg. This grade targets numerous circulatory problems. It is also the most frequently prescribed pressure rating.
Keep in mind, the compression level (10-20 mmHG, 20-30 mmHG, 30-40 mmHG, etc…) is different from foot size (Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, Wide Calf, Narrow Calf, etc…).
|Size||Thigh (cm)||Ankle (cm)|
|Large||40 to 62||18 to 21|
|Medium||46 to 70||21 to 25|
|Small||40 to 62||18 to 21|
If your physician has advised wearing knee-high or thigh-high compression stockings, you may be able to be measured at the doctor’s office. You will need measurements of your thigh, ankle and your regular shoe size to select the proper 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg, 20 mmHg to 25 mmHg, or 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg knee high hosiery.
If you will be taking your measurements at home, the best time to do so is upon rising in the morning, before swelling builds. This ensures the optimal size for compression effectiveness. You may need a helper to assist in the measuring process.
While standing with your legs bare, ask your helper to measure the following:
- The narrowest part of your ankle, above your ankle bone.
- The widest part of your calf.
- From the floor to the crease behind your knee.
Note – For accurate readings, the tape measure must be held tightly against your skin at each level.
If your calves are over 18 inches in circumference, then 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg, 20 mmHg to 25 mmHg, or 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg knee-high hosiery is an ideal choice for you.
The Best Way to Put on Medical Hosiery
Still holding the toe section, turn the sock inside out by pulling the top down and over your arm, stopping at your wrist.
Then straighten the hose over your foot, centering the heel at the back.
The fabric will now be right-side out. Using both hands, smooth out the material. The top of the hose should rest two finger-widths below your knee. Repeat this process for the other sock.
Caution – To ensure good circulation, make sure the fabric is free of folds, bunching, and wrinkles. Also, don’t fold or roll down the tops, which impairs blood flow.
Once you have put on your wide-leg compression hosiery, periodically check your skin color and temperature. If you note any abnormalities, remove the medical hosiery immediately.
Alternative Options for Putting on Compression Hosiery
If you find yourself struggling to pull your knee-high compression sleeves over your foot, there are a couple of devices that have been created to simplify the process. You may consider:
- Using a sock aid
- Using a stocking donner
How to Take Off Medical Hosiery
You will need to remove your compression hose each night before you go to sleep unless your doctor says otherwise. Follow these steps to remove your compression garments with ease:
- Grasp the top of the sock with both hands, turning it inside out.
- Next, gently pull it down to your ankle.
- Place one finger between your leg and stocking, creating clearance.
- Then, slowly pull the fabric over your ankle and off your foot.
Repeat these steps for the other sock.
Washing Medical Hosiery
Be sure to wash your compression stockings after each use. Once you’ve worn them for eight hours, their compression effect starts to wane. Washing and drying restore this property.
Though you may be tempted to machine-wash your wide-calf medical hosiery, hand washing is preferable.
Never use hot water, as heat can weaken the sock elastic. Treat your hosiery with TLC, and they’ll take good care of you!
You can hand wash the garments in a sink or basin, using mild soap and cool water. After soaking and swishing the medical hosiery or compression stockings for a few minutes, rinse them thoroughly with cool water.
Next, gently squeeze the water from each sock. Avoid wringing the material since this may damage the weave. To further remove moisture, roll the hose in a towel. Hang the socks up to dry overnight. To ensure you always have clean socks on hand, keep at least two pairs.
Keeping Your Legs and Feet Happy
Pressure socks can cater to a variety of medical conditions, improve blood flow, and prevent DVT. By invigorating your muscles through improved circulation, they can ward off aching, cramps and fatigue.
Remember to purchase a pair of graduated wide-leg medical hosiery. Gradient compression ensures that circulation problems such as leg swelling, varicose veins, and venous ulcers will be better managed.
Workouts can become more enjoyable when your circulation is improved and your joints are stabilized. They can be a great post-workout recovery tool too, reducing muscle soreness and aiding in recuperation from injuries.
By choosing the optimal hose size and pressure grade (15 – 20 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg or 30 – 40 mmHg), your legs will be happy campers.