Compression Socks Guide for Size, Measurement and Pressure

Compression socks are an innovative gift of technology and the sock production industry to the leg and feet health with seemingly a simple pressure-apply technique. Frequently considered as wearable medical equipment, compression socks are mostly learned by people after a recommendation or prescription by doctors upon their illnesses with regard to vein and blood circulation in their feet and legs such as varicose and deep vein thrombosis.

Example of compression socks

However, they are much more than widely known and can also be used for everyday needs and healthy individuals to increase their performance during physical activity, to increase their comfort while working, or to improve mild symptoms of blood circulation problems before they cause severe illnesses. We, therefore, have created this detailed buying guide to introduce compression socks and to explain the available types and tips for use to ensure you make the most out of your purchase.

What Are Compression Socks?

Compression socks are specially designed hosiery, considering the negative effects of gravity on the human body. As a part of our world’s natural conditions, gravity applies a downforce on all the things on it, including humans as well. While this ensures the emergence and continuance of time in the world, it also has several disadvantages for human health.

Blood is crucial for our health to carry the oxygen from the heart to all parts of the body through arteries and it needs to return to the heart through the veins to release carbon dioxide and get oxygen once again. And, this process is called blood circulation. However, gravity poses a danger to the health of veins by applying a pulling force over the veins that sends the carbon dioxide-loaded blood, causing blood pooling, swelling and vein illnesses in the long run.

Compression socks are engineered to present a practical solution for this unavoidable problem. These socks are the same as regular socks in appearance but their material blend and construction remarkably differ to apply pressure in the opposite direction of gravity to normalize the blood circulation process. Therefore, these compression socks can also be called anti-gravity socks or support hosiery to refer to their main function.

What Do Compression Socks Do?

Do compression socks work? Compression socks work by applying pressure on the places they cover, which are the ankle, calves, and sometimes thighs to shrink the veins and squeeze the tissues below, thereby pushing the carbon dioxide carrying blood from the narrower veins to the looser upper veins and finally to the heart without creating blood clots or causing swelling in the feet. The compression level is measured with a millimeter 

per mercury and shown with the symbol "mmHg" so that you can easily understand how much pressure you will be exposed to when buying a compression sock.

But this method has also variations as explained below to address the varying needs of different health problems and different conditions.

Graduated Compression Socks

Graduated Compression Socks

This one is the most popular among the people and the most prescribed by doctors to handle the problems posed by gravity. These socks have gradually decreasing compression, being the tightest at the lower level (over the ankle) and the less tight at the upper level. This means your ankles and feet will be exposed to a higher level of compression than the calves to create an anti-pushing force to overwhelm the effects of gravity by applying more pressure at the bottom to push the blood upwards, thereby preventing pooling.

Therefore, these graduated compression socks are available in longer lengths including knee-high, thigh-high and waist-heigh and are ideal for use particularly if you need support while standing and sitting.

Uniform Compression Socks

As can be inferred from its name, uniform compression socks feature equal pressure levels on every part of the sock to apply equal squeezing on your feet, ankles and calves. Hence, they aim to improve blood circulation and prevent pooling and swelling without applying extra pressure on the blood circulation. So, they are more suitable for wearing while bedded after surgery to recover, sleep, or rest, and thus, they should be worn after seeking advice from your doctor, which is the case you should avoid wearing the graduated compression socks.

What Are Compression Socks Used For?

Since they are available in a wide range and promise an effective and practical way to improve foot comfort and health, compression socks can be used for every part of your life. However, using them for the following cases will bring ostentatious advantages for you:

Travel

During travel, you must sit for long hours (maybe more than 24 hours) which will increase the pressure on your feet and cause swelling and aching. As also advised by the experts interviewed by CNN, compression socks are instrumental to lessen fatigue and discomfort after a long flight or journey. Preferring graduated compression socks for your next flight will relieve your after-flight symptoms and ensure your comfort even during the trip.

Athletics

Compression Socks For Athletes

Despite the origination of compression socks as medical support and treatment methods, they have reached a wider use, particularly among physically active individuals and professional athletes. Because they offer consistent support for the ankles, muscles, and tendons to keep them stabilized, thereby improving the performance and recovery. As stated by Alexander H.K. Montoye et. al in their academic article published in the International Journal of Exercise Sciences, wearing compression socks significantly improves the recovery process when compared to exercising with regular socks.

Work

Working occupies almost more than half of our daily lives and therefore, ensuring your comfort and safety with proper clothing choices is the key to your overall well-being. Compression socks are also ideal for wearing while going to work regardless of your daily routine. You may have to stand for long hours like teachers, nurses and physicians or you may have to spend your time sitting on your chair and working on your desk. In either case, compression socks are very beneficial for improving feet health and comfort.

Pregnancy

In spite of the memorable happiness of pregnancy, it comes with remarkable changes in hormones and body fluids that result in swollen feet, achy legs and ankles. Furthermore, your feet are inclined to have spider veins and varicose. Compression socks are therefore ideal accessories to add to your wardrobe to improve the symptoms while increasing your comfort with good blood circulation.

Medical

Medical requirements are the primary reasons why companies started to manufacture compression socks and doctors prescribe them. Venous diseases, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and varicose symptoms can be alleviated with regular use of graduated compression socks. Furthermore, they are influential in preventing swollen feet which may result from edema and lymphedema.

Additionally, these compression socks are ideal for use during the recovery after surgery because of the rising risk of DVT.

Why Wear Compression Socks?

Purchasing a completely new type of socks may seem to be hard for you to decide particularly if you know them of medical uses. However, the benefits of compression socks are many and you can surely find them beneficial for your comfort and health even for everyday use while working, training, or just walking. Hence, we present a list of the reasons why you should wear compression socks regardless of your medical needs or everyday routine because they:

  • Improves blood flow in the legs, ankles and feet,
  • Support vein health by ameliorating the blood return,
  • Reduce fatigue and the risk of injuries by stabilizing muscles,
  • Increase performance during training by increasing blood circulation,
  • Lessen swelling in feet and legs,
  • Prevent blood pooling and clots in the legs and feet,
  • Decreases the formation of varicose veins,
  • Helps recovery, particularly after surgery.

Compression Socks Types

As stated above, compression socks have a wide range of uses and therefore, you will see various models and styles which aim to address varying needs.

Compression Sock Styles

Ankle compression sock example

Ankle Compression Socks: Designed to reach up to your ankles, ankle compression socks are ideal for wearing during physical activities to protect your ankles from twisting and injuries with additional support. In addition, they can improve blisters and swelling around your ankle by applying pressure.

Quarter Compression Socks:
Knee high compression sock example

You can also find quarter compression socks that extend until mid-calf and hence, can be used with different type of shoes including sneakers, high-top shoes or boots since they provide protection for a wider area against chafing while helping a good blood circulation.

Knee High Compression Socks: Knee-high compression socks cover the calf under the knee level as well as ankles and feet. So, they are effective in increasing the blood circulation and supporting muscles. In addition, they can safely be worn under pants, shorts and skirts, which makes them suitable for use not only during work but also training.

Thigh High Compression Stockings: Covering most of your lower body including your thighs, these stockings can help leg health by preventing varicose, spider veins and DVT through pressure all over the leg starting from the feet.

Waist-High Compression Tights: These compression socks reach the waist level and help improve blood circulation even in the abdominal area.

Compression Socks Levels  and Compression Socks mmHg guide

Compression socks are primarily graded in accordance with their pressure level which is measured with mmHg, that is millimeters of mercury. Compression socks are generally between 8-50 mmHg and are classified into the following groups:

Mild Compression / 8‚Äď15 mmHg:¬†These mild pressure compression socks are primarily designed for light support for your ankle, muscles, and calves to improve general health. Furthermore, they are suitable to diminish aching and tired legs and therefore, they can be worn all through the day.

Medium Compression / 15‚Äď20 mmHg:¬†Medium pressure socks are the most common type of compression socks sold by most sock manufacturers. They help alleviate minor to moderate levels of varicose, spider veins and swollen feet by improving blood circulation. Furthermore, these moderate-level compression socks are the correct options for a long trip or flight to prevent aches and swelling. Additionally, they can help you minimize discomfort during work by increasing the circulation of oxygen-rich blood.

Firm Compression / 20‚Äď30 mmHg:¬†Firm compression socks are the most frequently prescribed type by doctors. Designed to improve moderate to severe varicose veins and thus suitable for wearing during pregnancy. Additionally, they are used to prevent deep vein thrombosis. In addition, these¬†20‚Äď30 mmHg compression socks maintain ankle and muscle health through improved blood circulation.

Extra Firm Compression / 30‚Äď40 mmHg:¬†These medical-grade compression socks are used upon doctor's prescription to alleviate severe varicose veins and Post-Thrombotic Syndrome and DVT.

Who Should Wear Compression Socks?

Compression socks are not designed just for the use of patients to recover from after surgery or treat feet illnesses but they are also suitable for everyday use especially for:

  • Health Professionals and Teachers: Nurses and doctors spend much of their shifts standing up to conduct their vital duties while teachers stand most of their time during classes. Therefore, they have a higher risk of developing varicose veins, which can be treated with compression socks.
  • Pregnant Women: Compression socks are ideal for relieving the aching and swelling during pregnancy.
  • Office Workers: They need to spend their working time sitting in their chairs and hence, compression socks will be the right solution to minimize blood circulation problems.
  • Athletics and Hikers: Compression socks improve blood circulation and ensure that your muscles have enough oxygen. Additionally, they reduce after training tiredness and accelerate muscle recovery.
  • Frequent Travelers: Long trips require long-time sitting, which makes compression socks crucial to diminish swelling and fatigue.

Apart from the conditions cited above, people who have to sit or stand up while working should wear compression socks to avoid deteriorated blood circulation.

 

How Long Can You Wear Compression Socks?

Except for the medical grade models, compression socks can be worn to minimize blood circulation problems during the time they emerge, that is, while working, traveling, or training. However, you should know how long to wear compression socks. For instance, if you wear compression socks to speed up the workout recovery, you can wear them for up to 3 hours. But you should keep in mind that the post-surgical recovery process may require individuals to wear compression socks for all day even while sleeping but it is crucial to seek advice from your doctor.

When To Wear Compression Socks?

The right time to start wearing compression socks is just before the symptoms start to appear. For instance, if you are wearing compression socks for swollen feet, you should put them on before your feet swell. More importantly, you are recommended to take them off before lying or going to sleep since compression is primarily designed to tackle gravity effects.

How To Put On Compression Socks?

Wearing Ankle Compression Socks

Compression socks are snug and it will require some time to put on if you do not know the tricks. If you search online, you will see a number of ways and we explain our favorite one which is also quite simple.

Firstly, find a secure seat and safely sit. Then, stick your hand into the sock until you reach the heel and turn the sock inside out except for the foot part by pulling the heel pocket. Then, wear the foot section by stretching a little sideways and after reaching the heel hold the upper part and pull them until your knee. Smooth and straighten all wrinkled parts and now you are ready to go!

How to Choose Compression Socks?

Compression socks are available in a wide array of models with different models, styles, sizes, and construction, which require you to have prior knowledge about them to make the right decision. The very first thing you must do is to consult your doctor if you want to get medical-grade socks. But, the mild, medium, and firm level compression socks can be worn without a doctor's prescription and you can consider the following conditions when searching for suitable options:

1.Material

Compression socks are manufactured from various materials, each of which offers different advantages for different conditions.

Merino Wool Compression Socks: Merino wool is a breathable material that has a moisture-wicking feature and can keep your feet dry by eliminating sweat. In addition, they are warm socks to ensure your feet do not chill during winter months.

Bamboo Compression Socks: Bamboo is obtained from sustainable sources and therefore, an eco-friendly fabric. In addition, its soft texture enhances your comfort while the moisture-wicking feature provides dry and cool walking even during hot days. Bamboo compression socks maintain a comfortable foot temperature.

Nylon Compression Socks: Nylon compression socks are more durable and robust and they are better for use while training and doing physical activities. Moreover, they dry faster and can easily be washed daily to wear them the following day.

2. Size

Compression socks are designed to ensure improved blood circulation and they need to be tight enough to apply intended pressure on your muscles and veins. Additionally, your heels and toes must fit in the toe cap and heel pocket. If the socks are looser, they will not apply as much compression as needed and if they are too tight, they squeeze more than you need. Hence, you should choose the best fit for your feet and calf size.

As GoWith, we offer three different sizes that will fit various shoe and calf sizes:

  • Small Compression Socks: Suitable for 4.5 - 6.5 Men and 5 ‚Äď 8 Women sizes, these socks can perfectly fit calves with 8" to 20" circumference. Its length from heel to calf is 15".
  • Medium Compression Socks: Having heel to cuff length of 16", medium-size compression socks can fit 7.5 - 9.5 Men and 9 ‚Äď 11 Women sizes can cover calves with 8" to 20".
  • Large Compression Socks: Produced for 10 - 12 Men and 12 ‚Äď 15 Women sizes, these socks can wrap calf with 8" to 20" circumference. Its length from heel to calf is 17".

Below compression socks size chart summarizes above mentioned sizes:

SIZE GUIDE US Men's Shoe Size US Women's Shoe Size Calf Circumference Heel To Cuff Length EU Shoe  Size UK Shoe Size
S 4.5-6.5 5-8 8"-20" 15" 35-38 3-5
M 7.5-9.5 9-11 8"-20" 16" 39-42 6-8
L 10-12 12-15 8"-20" 17" 43-46 9-11

 How to Measure Your Size? 

To find the right size for your needs, you can measure your feet and calf size. But, make sure you make the measurement in the morning when your feet are not swollen. Use a tape measure and wrap it around your calf. Then, sit and make sure your legs have a 90-degree angle, and measure the length between your knee and heel. Afterward, you can check our size chart to find your best or consult with your seller.

woman wearing knee high compression socks

3.Sock Length

As explained in detail before, compression socks are constructed knee-high, thigh-high and waist-high, which all offer various benefits. Even though the most common one is the knee-high compression socks and they are better for everyday use with their contribution to blood circulation, post-workout and travel fatigue, you can also make additional search and consultation for the two other options.

4.Tightness (Compression Level) 

Compression level is the primary factor that determines the use and therefore, you can decide which model is suitable for you by checking the previous sections. But, apart from the medical applications, 15‚Äď20 mmHg and 20‚Äď30 mmHg compression socks are the proper options for many. 15‚Äď20 mmHg compression socks are ideal for nurses, doctors, teachers, and office workers to improve their feet' health and prevent aching and swelling and they are also perfect for starting compression socks.

As for the 20‚Äď30 mmHg compression socks, they are ideal for use during physical activities to keep your muscles stabilized and increase post-workout recovery speed. Hence, you can use them to train as well as in outdoor activities like running, hiking, and jogging.

 

Tips for the New Users of Compression Socks

Socks are simple and ordinary hosiery that we start using just after birth to keep our feet warm and away from chafing in shoes. So, you may also think you know all the things about compression socks. But, they remarkably differ from the regular socks as you have read all through this post. Thus, we want to present several tips for new wearers of compression socks:

  • Wear them in the morning before your feet start swelling.
  • Sit while wearing them and practice our wearing technique for quicker wearing.
  • Reverse the method when you want to take them off. Hold the socks at the cuff, pull down until the heels and take the remaining part off by pulling from the toe caps.
  • Do not fold the cuff while wearing them since it will apply more pressure.

 

Where to Buy Compression Socks

You can find many places and online stores to buy compression socks, but we want to introduce GoWith, an experienced and upscale producer of compression socks. Designed in Germany and produced in Turkey, GoWith compression socks are available both for everyday use as well as athletics and pregnants. You can find compression socks for women and compression socks for men with unique colors and design