Your body contains 60,000 miles of blood vessels. To put that number in perspective: the entire United States is only 2,802 miles across. Your blood vessels not only play a critical role in delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, they also transport waste away from your muscles and organs.
If the blood vessels in your feet aren’t working properly, all kinds of problems can come as a result. You may notice coldness or numbness, or your legs may feel wobbly at times. Wounds on your feet and legs may take longer to heal than normal. Many other problems– like dry skin, body hair loss and even erectile dysfunction in men— are common as well.
Obesity and diabetes are two of the main culprits that cause blood flow issues, but other conditions can cause blood flow problems as well. Peripheral artery disease occurs when plaque accumulates in the blood vessels. Left unchecked, peripheral artery disease leads to varicose veins, leg swelling and other problems. A rare disorder caused Raynaud’s Disease can also cause lower body circulation issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, scientists still aren’t sure what causes Raynaud’s Disease. What they do know is that it seems to affect middle-aged women living in cold climates the most.
One way you can reduce improve circulation in your feet and lower body is by wearing compression socks. Compression socks squeeze the leg tissues and walls of your veins. This compression forces the blood in your legs into narrower channels. The increase in lower body arterial pressure in turn makes it easier for blood to return back to your heart.
Compression socks have a variety of health benefits. Athletes use them to improve their performance and avoid injury. People with varicose veins use compression socks to ease pain and to stop the condition from progressing. Pregnant women, people who stand all day at work and people recovering from surgery use them as well.
Be sure to check with your doctor first before you start using compression socks, especially if you have serious health issues. People that suffer from ischemia, septic phlebitis, heart failure and other diseases shouldn’t wear them.
Here are the best compression socks you can buy:
- Laite Hebe Compression Socks for Women and Men come in many different colors and styles, yet are suitable for both men and women.
- If you’re recovering from surgery, +MD’s anti-embolism Medical Compression Stockings are an excellent choice.
- Moon Wood Compression Socks are perfect for athletes.
- If you want to wear compression socks but don’t want or need a full stocking, give Physix Gear’s Sport Compression Running Socks a hard look.
- SB SOX Compression Arch Sleeves provide arch support and only cover a small part of your foot.
The best compression socks for everyday use
Laite Hebe Compression Socks for Women and Men
Most scientists agree that compression garments offer many benefits to both people with circulation-related health issues and people who are in good health. So why not wear them all the time? Laite Hebe Compression Socks for Women and Men look just like ordinary socks because they’re decorated with all kinds of different patterns and designs.
- Doesn’t hurt your legs. These compression socks are snug enough to benefit your health, but the compression level is low enough for regular use.
- Helps prevent varicose veins. These compression socks are rated at 15-20 mmHg. That’s enough compression to prevent varicose veins and reduce tired, achy legs.
- They look like ordinary knee-high socks. If you want to wear compression socks discreetly, these will help you avoid attracting attention.
- Over 26 different styles are available. Styles range from plaid to Christmas-themed and more.
- Comfortable fabric blend. Because these socks are mostly made of Nylon, they feel nice enough against your skin to wear on a day-to-day basis.
- Thin and breathable. Strong yet thin, you can wear these compression socks under ordinary pants without breaking a sweat.
- Ordinary socks are easier to put on and wear. As is the case with all compression socks, you’ll need to take extra care to make sure you place your foot in the right place each time you put them on.
In a nutshell
Though other compression socks provide more support and compression, these will compress your leg enough to provide you with significant health benefits without sacrificing your comfort level. Plus, you’ll actually want to wear them on a daily basis because they look just like ordinary knee-high socks.
The best medical compression socks for recovering from surgery
+MD’s anti-embolism Medical Compression Stockings
Fat globules, blood clots, gas bubbles and foreign materials can sometimes block blood vessels from functioning normally. These types of obstructions are known as embolisms. Blood clots are known to form embolisms after intensive surgery. This is what is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT. Truform Surgical Stockings are specifically designed to prevent DVT from occurring, but they are comfortable enough for general use as well.
- Helps prevent blood clots following surgery. Truform Surgical Stockings are specifically designed for medical use.
- Versatile. You don’t need to remain in bed or at home when you use these stockings. They are comfortable enough to wear to work or anywhere else you need to go.
- Breathable fabric. The material is a nylon / Spandex blend that feels light and won’t leave you sweaty.
- Fits many leg sizes. The expandable thigh panel lets this compression stocking relieves unnecessary pressure around the top of the leg and helps accommodate many shapes and sizes.
- Open toe design. The open toe feature makes it easier to put these stockings on and take them off. A closed-toe version of this stocking is also available.
- Doesn’t slide off or fall down. A silicon band located on the top part of the stocking helps it stay in place.
- Not very durable. The silicon band and thigh panel will eventually lose its elasticity with time and/or after frequent use.
- Not ideal for hot weather. Unless you need to wear a full-length compression stocking for medical reasons, you may want to consider going with smaller type of compression sock if you plan on spending a lot of time in a hot weather environment.
In a nutshell
If you’ve just had surgery, Truform Surgical Stockings will help you protect yourself against dangerous blood clots during your recovery. If you get the toeless version of this compression sock, you’ll find that it’s easy to take off and put on. The silicon band that holds the stockings up serves its purpose as well, but tends to stretch out over time.
The best compression socks for intense athletic training
Moon Wood Compression Socks
Compression socks aren’t just for people with medical problems. Healthy individuals can also take advantage of the benefits of compression with Moon Wood Compression Socks. They’re not only comfortable and breathable, they’re also decorated with sporty designs and patterns. They’re equipped with moisture control fibers, support cushions and other features that cater to athletes.
- Sporty. These compression socks are ideal for working out and competing in athletic events.
- Attractive design. Several stylish unisex patterns are available.
- Arch support. Extra support around the arch area helps relieve pain if you have flat feet, high arches or other similar conditions.
- Comfortable. The nylon / Spandex blend feels just as natural on the skin as an ordinary sock.
- Improves recovery time. According to a study published by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, sport compression socks like these ones can help you recover faster after intense exercise.
- Versatile. In addition to competitive sports, Moon Wood Compression Socks are ideal for work-related activities, traveling or even just relaxing around the house.
- May be too much compression for some people. These compression socks are rated for firm compression,or 20-30 mmHg. By comparison, compression socks that are rated for mild compression measure in at 8-15 mmHg.
In a nutshell
These attractive looking, sporty compression socks are an excellent choice if you want to take advantage of the benefits of compression when you work out or play sports. Their only potential downside is the fact that they’re rated at 20-30 mmHg. However, this may actually be an upside if you’re looking for a sock with an extra snug fit.
The best low-cut compression socks for running
Physix Gear’s Sport Compression Running Socks
Full length athletic compression socks aren’t for everyone. For some it’s a comfort issue. Other people don’t want to sacrifice their leg mobility at all when they’re active. That’s where Physix Gear Sport Compression Running Socks come in. These low-cut socks do provide some of the same benefits that longer compression socks provide, but they’re also more comfortable and discreet.
- Not as noticeable as full-length compression socks. If you don’t like the way that compression stockings look or feel, you may want to go with these instead.
- Rugged, durable design. Double-stitched and designed to withstand wear and tear, they’ll last longer than ordinary socks that you’ll find in department stores.
- Fabric stops bacteria and wicks away moisture. These socks will stay fresher than most because they are made out of bacteria-resistant Lycra.
- Seamless toe. The seam-free design is another feature that makes these socks comfortable to wear.
- Prevents shoes from rubbing your Achilles heel. The back part of the sock is designed to stop friction caused by shoes that rub and chafe.
- Ankle support. Added padding on the sides of the sock helps reinforce and protect the ankle.
- Limited compression benefits. Because these compression socks only compress the foot, you’ll experience less health benefits when you wear them.
In a nutshell
If you need a snug, durable sock for exercising, Physix Gear Sport Compression Running Socks are worth considering. On the other hand, if you want to maximize the health benefits that compression socks provide, you may be better off with a full-length compression sock or a knee-length design.
The best compression socks for arch support
SB SOX Compression Arch Sleeves
People with flat arches or high arches often suffer from foot pain. A variety of other conditions can cause pain in the center of the foot, as well. The SB SOX Compression Arch Sleeves specifically targets the arch. It’s a sleeve that fits over the center of your foot. Its small size makes it convenient for wearing sandals, flip-flops and other similar types of shoes.
- You can wear it with summer shoes. If you need arch support when you wear sandals and flip flops, this product could be your best option.
- Multiple uses. You can slide this sleeve under or over an ordinary sock when you’re out and about or just wear it around the house whenever you need arch relief.
- Pick from several different sizes. Different sizing options matched to various shoe sizes helps ensure a perfect fit.
- Four different colors are available. Available colors include white, maroon, grey and black.
- Low maintenance. The anti-microbial neoprene fabric is rugged and easy to clean.
- Very portable. These sleeves take up even less space than socks, which means that you can easily take them with you wherever you go when you travel.
- Limited compression benefits. As is the case with low-cut compression socks, sleeves offer limited health benefits compared to knee-high socks and full-length compression stockings.
In a nutshell
If arch pain is your main problem, a compression sleeve like this one may be all you need. The SB SOX Compression Arch Sleeve is compact and easy to maintain and store– yet it’s also an effective and non-intrusive way to relieve some types of foot pain. One of the best things about this product is its versatility and ease of use. You can wear it under or over a normal sock.
Buying guide for compression socks
These are a few important factors to consider when buying compression socks.
Compression is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. More compression doesn’t always mean better quality or more health benefits. You may not actually need much compression if you intend to use your compression sock to relieve mild pain or to prevent varicose veins. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor first before you buy if you’re not sure how much compression you need.
Some compression socks are suitable for sports because they feature bright colors, ergonomic designs and extra padding around the arch and ankle. Others are designed to meet the needs of people with medical issues. Medical grade compression socks tend to offer more support and compression compared to athletic and casual use compression socks.
Generally, the more surface area that a compression sock covers, the harder it is to put on and remove. Full coverage compression socks may be ideal for some types of medical conditions. Full length open-toe compression stockings are a good compromise between surface area and ease of use.
Let’s face it. If your compression sock isn’t comfortable, you probably aren’t going to wear it. Pick a compression sock that’s made from material that you feel comfortable wearing. If you don’t like the way your compression sock feels, return it and get your money back– or exchange it for a different one.
If you intend on using your compression sock regularly, you should buy a compression sock that blends in well with the rest of your wardrobe. Many different colors and patterns are available. These days, compression socks don’t necessarily have to look like medical equipment. Many feature stylish designs and come in all kinds of different colors.
Common materials used to make compression socks include spandex, microfiber and cotton. Some athletic compression socks are made from Merino wool. Merino wool comes from Merino Sheep. Merino wool fibers are softer, finer and less itchy compared to ordinary wool.
Some compression socks are equipped with convenience features like side zippers. Compression stockings that have side zippers are easier to put on and remove compared to those that don’t. If you plan on wearing your compression sock under your clothes, you may want to go with one that has a zipper. If you have trouble removing and/or putting on your compression sock, you may need to invest in a donning tool.
The cheapest kind of compression socks you can buy are low-cut, casual wear compression socks. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $15 for those. Full length casual compression socks cost a bit more.
The next step up is athletic compression socks. You can get a pack of good quality athletic compression socks for around $25. Brand name athletic compression socks tend to be pricier.
Generally, full length medical grade compression socks are the most expensive type of compression sock you can buy. They usually cost around $30.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What is the difference between uniform and graduated compression socks?
A: Graduated compression socks (sometimes called graded or gradient compression socks) are specially designed to place the most pressure around the ankle and foot area. The farther you go up the leg, the less pressure there is. Uniform compression socks distribute compression evenly. In addition to being comparatively easier to put on compared to uniform compression socks, graduated compression socks are also more effective. That’s why most medical grade compression socks are of the graduated type.
Q: How much compression do I need?
A: Compression socks rated at 8-15 mmHg are considered mild and are useful for pain relief and swelling reduction. Medium compression socks (15-20 mmHg) help stop the development of varicose veins. The next step up after medium is firm compression socks (20-30 mmHg). Firm compression socks help manage ulcers and prevent post-surgery blood clotting. Extra firm compression socks (30-40 mmHg) are used to treat severe edema and lymphedema. RX grade compression socks (40-50 mmHg) are useful for treating chronic vein insufficiency and other severe conditions involving vein dysfunction.
Q: Do compression socks boost sports performance?
A: A recent study published by the US National Library of Medicine suggests that compression socks do not help marathon runners run faster or longer. However, the same study also indicated that compression socks do prevent inflammation and help reduce muscle pain.