Compression socks work against gravity, exerting pressure on vein walls and tissues in the feet, ankles, and legs, which drives blood back up to the heart. A lot of athletes, pregnant women, and people who spend all day on their feet use compression socks on a regular basis, but they’re also great for keeping circulation in check during long flights.
Their strength––basically the tightness of their squeeze––is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Strength ratings usually range from moderate (10 to 20 mm Hg) to firm (20-30mmHg), though some stores may have stronger socks in stock. Also, look for graduated compression socks that loosen around the calves so they don’t end up cutting off circulation. There’s a compression sock for every shoe––here are a few we like:
Workout wear. Amazon
These socks are affordable and perform just as well as expensive prescription brands. They’re made with a moisture-wicking synthetic nylon and spandex blend with a reinforced heel to ward off holes. They also come in multiple color schemes, none of which are beige. The knee-high stockings have a firm rating of 20-30mmHg, so while they’re tapered and don’t cut off circulation around the calf, they are on the strong side.
Not the kind your Grandma wears. Amazon
Compression socks typically spark images of calf-covering stockings but these anklets are a great alternative if you only need foot support. These socks have a mid-range compression rating of 15-20 mmHg and are made with silver fibers that keep feet dry and reduces the risk you’ll get blisters. They also come in a ton of colors. Since the sizing options for these socks (small/medium and large/extra-large) are for a range of foot sizes, getting the right fit or compression could be tricky, especially if you have small feet.
Sandal season socks. Amazon
Because they’re supposed to squeeze, compression socks can be tough to put on. These knee-high stockings have a zipper up the side to make getting dressed a bit easier. They have a mid-range compression rating (15-20 mmHg) that are graded, meaning they’re designed to ease up around the calves to prevent cutting off circulation. Also, because these socks have open toes, they can be discreetly worn with sandals.
All-day comfort. Amazon
Each package of Dr. Motion compression socks comes with four anti-microbial pairs that feature three zones of compression from the ankle to the calf. Similar to the Zip-Sox above, their 8-15 mmHg, mid-range compression is great for most activities and can help relieve tired or sore legs.
Comrad compression socks are intended to reduce feet swelling and help improve blood circulation. Comrad’s products include toe and heel padding, as well as the moisture-absorbing fabric that can keep your feet dry. Both these qualities make for a more comfortable, full-day experience. Comrad’s socks also feature antimicrobial SmartSilver bound into the thread, which helps kill bacteria and odors, allowing you to wash your socks less often. This leads to a longer life for your socks. Their socks have a compression rating of 15-25mmHg, with the most pressure starting at the ankle.