No matter who you are what you do (or don’t do), you have probably heard about and/or seen compression socks. You may even own a pair or two, even, such has been their reach. These socks are made with many purposes in mind. They all, however, have one common goal: to help you be more healthy. While some will help you perform various tasks better, the end goal is to make sure that you are as well as you can possibly be. Today, we are going to look at all of the reasons why you would want to wear, and then buy, a pair of compression socks, in our buying guide. After breaking down the ins and outs of them, we will then take a look at the top ten most popular ones on the market so that you can get an awesome idea and place to jump off from in your quest for them. Let’s go ahead and start!
Top Compression Socks Comparison Chart
|Product||Material||Rating Compression||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Physix Gear 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks||Fabric||20-30 mmHg||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|2. Bitly Ankle Support Compression Sleeve for Plantar Fasciitis||Fabric||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|3. Vitalsox Italy Graduated Compression Socks||70% Silver Drystat, 10% Spandex, 10% Lycra, 10%Nylon||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|4. SB Sox 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks||Fabric||20-30 mmHg||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|5. FuelMeFoot Copper 15-20 mmHg Compression Socks||Copper||15-20 mmHg||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|6. Cambivo 20-30 mmHg 2 Pair Compression Socks||Fabric||20-30 mmHg||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|7. FuelMeFoot 20-30 mmHg Nursing Compression Socks||Nylon||20-30 mmHg||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|8. Laite Hebe Compression Socks||Fabric||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|9. Toes&Feet Men’s Low Cut Compression Running Socks||Mesh||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|10. Daily_Use Three Pack 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks||Nylon||20-30 mmHg||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
Compression Socks Buying Guide
What is a Compression Sock?
To begin with, we need to take a look at what a compression sock is. If we don’t have this information down, then we will struggle throughout, so we had best get this one done and dusted. A compression sock is any material that covers up parts of the lower legs snugly. This is done for a myriad of reasons, of which we will get into later. They should not be too tight, since it can cause circulation problems, but they also shouldn’t be so loose that they are fall down or can’t be felt. Regular socks are oftentimes really great at what they do, but they could never do the same that compression socks do. They do not have the same quality to them, so please do not try and turn them into a faux compression sock by wearing them too tight. That simply is not going to work, and it’s probably gonna hurt pretty darn bad.
Sock or Sleeve?
Inside of the realm of compression socks, you have a couple of options: the sock and the sleeve. While both of these names seem pretty similar, and they are, they do have a couple of things that set them apart. A sock is going to generally cover much more room than a sleeve would. Usually, a compression sock will cover up your feet, ankles, and also your knee. A sleeve, however, is only going to cover a little bit of area, perhaps up to your ankles. This gives you options for what you need. If it’s only the bottom of the legs that are troubling you, you can turn to a sleeve. While there are some outliers, these general rules typically are upheld and should be noted!
Let’s Talk About Swelling
Ah, good ‘ol swelling. That word that no one really likes to hear. It has such a negative connotation to us, doesn’t it? Like it or not, though, it is a natural part of human life. Without it, we’d be in a world of trouble. With that being said, there are times when it is downright painful and awful for us to go through it. And then there are times when it is dangerous to have occur. Swelling happens when the body reacts to stimuli. This can be anything. It can be from the inside when other parts of the body begin to break down, or it could be from something external. You could be standing all day, walking, or doing a lot of exercise. These all cause you to swell, even the most fit and healthy of us all. We all will swell after a long day of work or working out, it’s just how our feet and ankles react. Unfortunately, some of us have these problems just about all day. So, a large part of the reason you are going to want to ultimately get a pair of compression socks is going to be to help make your swelling manageable. By managing it, you can get through the day and feel better, which is something all of us want, no matter what our purpose is for wearing them.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is thought to have been the starting point for compression socks. Originally, this condition caused them to be created, and since then it has branched out from there, with people seeing what a wonderful job they have done to combat DVT. DVT, and other conditions like it, tend to happen to older individuals that don’t get up and down enough. This can also happen to younger people and bigger people, obviously, and it happens due to the fact that blood settles in the extremities of the body. After a while, this can build up and cause something like DVT, meaning you have to be super careful about what you do. You have no other choice but to have to wear compression socks at this point, since the health of your legs and circulation is going to be so paramount. It’s terrible, for sure, that this exists in our world, but it is something that does, so we need to address it and you can do so by using compression socks to either help once you develop it or possibly cut it off at the pass before it starts to take shape.
Blood based conditions are no laughing matter, and it’s no shock that the use of compression socks began there, since it was of vital importance to help folks live a healthier, more comfortable life. But it wasn’t long until someone caught on to the fact that the socks were doing quite a job for those people and wanted to take them and use them for other purposes, such as fitness. The reason fitness is a good fit is because, like we discussed earlier, it causes us to swell up. As a reaction to exercise, our feet and ankles are going to naturally get a little bit bigger. This is a good thing, since it shows us that the heart is pumping out very well, and shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing. But for some people, this swelling can really, really take place and end up hurting for days on end. For people like that, compression socks are a brilliant answer, since they can help you reduce the swelling in real time and hopefully make it possible for you to actually exercise two or three days in a row rather than having to go one day and then recuperate for two more. Throwing your feet up on top of something is only going to help so much, after all!
Believe it or not, compression socks, and other forms of compression clothing, has been shown to actually increase athletic performance. This might seem to be too good to be true to you, but it’s proven by studies to be the case. Now, you can’t just become the next Michael Jordan or Tom Brady just by wearing compression socks. They will not take a 5’6’’ man and have him dunking a basketball when he has never even came close to doing it. But it will improve your performance. One reason that they do is because we as humans love to self diagnose. Part of this is making ourselves believe things that probably shouldn’t be true. We have a tendency to take medicine, for example, and talk ourselves into feeling better. Sure, some of of us are ‘better’ at this than others, but the point holds true. Knowing you have something there to protect or aid you is already going to boost your confidence. But the real science goes to the fact that the swelling is going to be lessened. When this swelling doesn’t take place, cramps are less likely to occur, soreness doesn’t creep in, and you don’t get as tired as early. This doesn’t mean that someone that has been running and training for a 5K can just go sign up for the Boston Marathon and expect to complete it, but it does mean that you will have a much better chance of accomplishing the goals that you have set. Cramps are a huge issue in the world of sports, and while a lot of it does have to do with potassium levels and your overall fitness, compression socks can help alleviate that a lot, too. We’re sure there will be numerous other reasons that performance is bettered as a result of using compression socks, but for now, that’s probably all we need to know!
Another great use for compression socks is going to be flying. When you board a plane and take off, there are certain things that go along with that. The first time you fly a long distance might just catch you off guard if you haven’t done proper research, because your feet and ankles will be incredibly swollen once you land. This swelling doesn’t really subside all that quickly, either, and it can cause a ton of issues. Maybe you had planned to walk around and see the sights upon landing, or perhaps you are an athlete. What exactly are you going to do in this case? As you fly, the pressure of the air, which is much different from down here on the ground, takes its toll on the legs and increases the chances of them swelling and even forming blood clots. Certain people are much more at risk of the latter than others, and it’s hard to tell if you are a prime candidate. Generally, though, if you have a good record of health, you won’t have to worry too much about that eventuality. That being said, you have to make sure you don’t have the swelling occur, and a good way to do so is to wear compression socks. These are going to also keep your warmer while on your flight, something that a lot of people struggle with as well!
Aren’t They For Older People?
Ah, yes, yes they are. Compression socks are for older people. As well as kids, young adults, athletes, nurses. Anyone could possibly think of can and should wear them, at least in certain parts of their lives. But this question is likely posed because of a style thing. Originally, yes, compression socks were just about solely made for older people. With that comes a certain style, or lack thereof, that really would start some people to have their blood boiling in no time flat. Thankfully for us today that are going to be wearing them, these problems do not exist any longer. Compression socks are not made to look like they came out of a large 100 pack at the local rest home. Instead, they have all kinds of different looks to help you stand out and look cool all while remaining as healthy and fit as possible. Don’t worry about looking lame, unless that’s what you want, that is!
Won’t Soccer Socks Work?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a no. Soccer socks are great for doing what they do, and they are a heck of a lot better than many other forms of socks, but they will not do exactly what you need them to do. They could constrict you, certainly, if you got the right size and squeezed them on you tightly, but they also could just as easily hang off of you to where they aren’t quite tight enough to provide true compression. Because of that, we’d recommend something else, though they would certainly be a better choice than nothing or just a plain pair of socks. At least for this specific purpose, that is. Plus, they are usually a whole lot harder to mask than compression socks, which can fit in very well and look stylish. Soccer socks are cool, but they are very obviously not meant for dressy types of affairs!
If you work at a job where you are on your feet all day, then you also are very much a viable contender for a good pair (or two) of compression socks. With professions such as nurses and doctors, construction workers, retail workers, lab technicians, and all points in between, spending their days on their feet, whether it’s through walking or standing, a ton of swelling is naturally going to accumulate. This is not a bad thing, as we have discussed already, but it can be very aggravating and even painful to some people after a long shift. If you have a short amount of time in between shifts, it can even more brutal to you. This is why having a pair of compression socks can come in handy. Many of us would love to just come home and plop down on the bed and go to sleep after a long, 12 hour shift, but that’s not an option if the feet are so swollen you have to prop them up. Failing to deal with the issue can create persistent problems, so if you are in a profession like this, you may just find that they do a great job at helping you through your long, rough day.
Support and Pressure
One thing that you have to keep an eye out for with compression socks is the difference between pressure and support. These two concepts will be thrown around a lot all over the web, and most likely on listings that you see for various products, but the two are not the same and will never be the same. Some pairs of compression socks are going to have both, some will have just one of them.
First and foremost, all compression socks should have and need to have pressure. It’s got to be consistent as well. This, again, as we have said before is a snug fit. You do not need something that is so tight that you lose all circulation, but you also have to have it where it does compress the body- squeezing it essentially. This has to be applied evenly throughout the sock or sleeve. If it’s not done correctly, then it will be loose and will leave that particular area ripe for swelling. If a ‘compression’ sock does not have consistent pressure, then it is not truly a compression sock and you should look elsewhere.
After that, you get to the issue of support. Some compression socks are not going to have much of this, and believe it or not, that is ‘OK.’ If you are mainly wearing them for medical purposes and don’t have a lot of need to be athletically inclined, or if you have shoes, regular socks, KT tape or something else that help with this, then you are good to go. But if you are training for an event or playing, then you will want to have some form of support. Outside of the options listed above, you’re going to need a compression sock or sleeve that yields you some support, or you will risk picking up other injuries. A common injury that you could get would be Plantar Fasciitis, the bane of a lot of folks’ existence. You can get all sorts of other injuries, too. Support can also be in the form of the arches. Whether you knew it or not, socks can help aid in that, too. That’s big for those of us with flat feet or high arches, so support is going to be instrumental.
Remember, you must have consistent pressure, while support is an option for you to give or take. Some will have a ton of support, but others will not. Ultimately, it comes down to your specific needs and what it is you are seeking to do by wearing compression socks or sleeves.
No, we don’t want to cuff you. Do we really need to use that terminology nowadays? Anyway, cuffs, at least for our purposes here, are going to refer to a method of helping keep your compression socks up and providing consistent pressure, as we talked about above at length. Part of the issue with many socks is that they do not stay in place. In general, socks love to bunch up, sag, and slip. They sometimes don’t respond very well to moisture, and that seems to only cause them to slip and sag even more, making it uncontrollable and unbearable at certain points. What a cuff is designed to do is to help keep the socks in place. These are most typically located toward the top of the sock. This is both a way to ensure that you have the best fit, since they will not be moving anywhere, and also to provide the consistent pressure that you desperately need.
We touched on fit briefly in various parts above, but here is where we need to go into slightly more detail. Getting the right fit is absolutely crucial to you, no matter if you are an athlete or someone that is going to be wearing compression socks for health reasons. Obviously, we need to have socks that are going to have consistent pressure, we have that down. But fitting yourself properly is going to help you go a long way toward getting that. The fit of compression socks, like all socks, really, can be pretty tough. Unless you go with a specialty company or brand, it seems like you can never fit anything in your actual size. So it’s a one size fits all thing, confounding you and forcing you to making compromises. This means looking at sizing charts is absolutely critical. If you don’t have a way to measure yourself accordingly, make sure to get a friend or loved one to help you out.
Once you have a pair of compression socks, what you have to do to check that they are the right fit is to put them on. This is common sense, and it will ensure that you have the best feel you can possibly have. Before doing anything else, you should try them on when you are cold. What we mean here is that you should try them on first thing in the morning before you have done a lot of stuff. If you try them on later in the day, you may indeed be swollen and will feel like they do not fit you, when they actually do. This is contrary to the advice you usually would get with shoes and ‘regular’ socks, so it’s very much necessary to point this out to help you move in the right direction.
First, you need to check and make sure that there is consistent pressure throughout the sock. If the top is tighter than the bottom, or vice versa, then you will want to either pick another pair or return them. This is just more trouble than get. Next, you need to wear them for a little while and just see how they feel. It might take some time for you to acclimate to them, so this is a good thing to do for you if you have some leisure time. Third, you should take them off and inspect your legs. If you notice a deep mark left on them, then you know that they are too tight for you and that you need to make a change by going up a size. This deep mark can really make life go downhill for you if you persist for a long time, so the wise thing to do is to stop problems before they begin by avoiding wearing them.
Another aspect to getting the best fit and feel is to look at the so-called ‘rating’ of the compression that is used in a particular pair of socks. This rating is going to help determine how much compression you will get. For some of us, a mild amount is right, while others may need very little or a lot. This will help you pick which you require and why it’s best for you to go that way.
MmHg, standing for millimeters of Mercury, is the standard by which compression rating in socks are measured. You will see this with other products as well, but it’s just a good thing to know about to keep you from tripping up. Here we go in-depth!
14 and Below
If you are someone that is generally very healthy and want to reduce the level of fatigue and swelling that you have, then a rating of 14 or below would be a good way to start with compression. This is also usually the level that is used for women that are pregnant. You can go up, but you don’t have to do so.
Compression that falls between 15-20 mmHg is going to be considered a ‘moderate’ amount. This means that you will get quite a bit more compression than the above grouping but still not an extreme amount like the ones you see on up the ladder. This will help you relieve minor swelling and can help you through plain rides and other sorts of things that force you to sit in one place for a very long time.
21 and Up
Any compression that offers 21 mmHg and up is going to be the more ‘premium’ of them all. This is more of a medical grade, and they will be used for a ton of purposes. It could be used for reducing swelling or pain, or maybe even to aid in recovery. You will still also see athletic socks in this category as well, though, so it’s not just all that sort of thing. Long flights can also be made much more manageable by wearing those with this amount of pressure to them.
Before we get started, we’ll look at price for a moment. The price of a pair of compression socks and sleeves will depend on a few factors. The level of pressure, the purpose, and the quality are big influences on the whole process. But the quantity that you buy at is also important. While it will typically cost you more to buy two than to buy one, you can usually get a better deal (per pair) when you buy more than one. This seems to get better as you go on up the line, so you might want to look for that. Like with most things, you do get what you pay for, so generally you will get a better, more well-made product when you pay more. That being said, there are some really good compression products out there, and the vast majority will not force you to break the piggy bank!
The Top Ten Compression Socks of 2019 Reviews
Physix Gear 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks
While these do have a lot of pressure to them, they are considered to be top of the line and great for a number of purposes, such as pregnancy, athletics, and other medical reasons on top of maternity, too. With many colors to pick from, you don’t have to worry at all about them being uncool or anything of the sort. With these, you don’t have to worry about a lack of support, either, since they are reinforced in the heels, bottom of the feet, and in the calves, trigger points that need all the help they can get. They have stay put cuffs as well, making sue they do not bunch up, all while helping you lessen the fatigue that you will feel while doing all kinds of activities. With a money back guarantee, it’s ever harder to come with a reason to not like them!
- Lots of consistent pressure
- Stay put right in place
- Very supportive
Bitly Ankle Support Compression Sleeve for Plantar Fasciitis
Some people need support for a very specific purpose or ailment, and these sleeves are just for one of those, in Plantar Fasciitis. This condition is no fun at all, and it never fully goes away, but these look to help prevent those flare ups by giving compression just where you need it most: in the ankles and also on the bottoms of the feet. You don’t get the whole foot covered, or even close with these, but they do a job in those areas and a good one as well. With four different colors to pick from, they can be worn with or without regular socks as you walk, run, or play sports. With breathable materials used, they will not retain odors and they will keep you cooler as well, while giving your ankles the support they need so badly.
- Great for athletes
- Doesn’t bind the whole leg
- Breathable and supportive
Vitalsox Italy Graduated Compression Socks
Back to the more ‘traditional’ compression socks here with these, which are made from a blend of four materials to help give you the most out of your workout. What this does is give them the ability to move in four ways, allowing you to stretch and move in much more agile fashion when compared against others on the market. Those materials also help them to consistently apply pressure all the way up and down the entire leg, something that a lot of others also fail at. As you would expect with Italian makers, they are very stylish and have a number of colors and are very well made, too, making sure that you don’t have to go out and buy another pair quickly after getting these. The numbers on the compression range in the 15-22, so it’s best to call them moderate, meaning they are a little less aggressive than our opener was!
- Very stylish and well made
- Four way stretch
- Moderate pressure
SB Sox 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks
With four different sizes and a vast amount of compression, there is a very good reason why these socks are toward the top of the charts. These provide compression at a level that will allow you to do a number of things, whether it’s simply stand all day, sit, or do athletic competition at a high level. With a reinforced heel that is also cushioned, you can count on these not letting you slip and also supporting you while being very comfortable, which is not always the case as it relates to footwear of any kind. With fabric that stops bacteria and wicks away sweat, you can count on them smelling good and keeping you healthy in those regards. Oh, and they come in some really awesome colors, too!
- Exquisite color choices
- Comfy and supportive heel area
- Great, consistent range of pressure
FuelMeFoot Copper 15-20 mmHg Compression Socks
Copper seems to be all the rage today for a wide range of issues,and these compression socks, which fall in the medium range of pressure, utilize that to full effect. With a number of colors to pick from and three pairs that come for the price of one, you get awesome value that will keep you ticking along and make you and your wallet extremely happy. Copper has been shown to rejuvenate the body and to promote blood flow, and that’s what these does in spades. This also makes them very breathable in the summer while making sure you are warm when it the harsh winter months set in. These are a good choice for anyone that has minor issues or just wants to aid their sports performance, especially given the great deal you get on them.
- Very good value
- Good moderate pressure level
- Cool in summer and warm in winter
Cambivo 20-30 mmHg 2 Pair Compression Socks
The style is a bit limited with these, since they are black with different shades, but overall, they are a good pair of compression socks that will apply good, consistent pressure upon the ankles, feet, and legs. With their 3D knitting design, they are composed of just one piece of material, making sure that there can be no bunching up as a result unlike the socks of yesterday and many of today. Because of the high mmHg on offer, you are able to get relief for some really bad conditions, and you can even get a ton of help as an athlete. Like most of the others we have seen so far, they have great breathability built in and will wick away sweat and odors to assure you that you don’t smell awful!
- No bunching up thanks to one piece
- Great for medical purposes
- Very breathable
- Colors lack a little
FuelMeFoot 20-30 mmHg Nursing Compression Socks
Style might have been an issue above, but it’s not one here, well for some people, that is. These socks are very much made for nurses and anyone in a profession that will be around kids or the such. These socks have a very playful look to them, but they also get the job done. Unlike their counterpart cousins above, these provide a lot more compression, helping to aid in the cause of preventing some pretty serious things from occurring. But they also do a more than adequate job for professionals, too, so that’s something you can be happy about. With a reinforced toe that helps prevent blistering, arch support, and a reinforced heel to stop slippage, there is more than just the looks to draw you to these!
- Great ‘groovy’ looks
- Strategic reinforcements
- Great for medical cases
Laite Hebe Compression Socks
The biggest calling card of these compression socks, besides just that, is the fact that they have a 360 degree stretch to them. This means you can move in all directions more freely than with socks from a bygone era, allowing you to have much better flexibility. That also naturally makes them more durable, since they won’t be forced to move with you and will bend on their own. With strong material that is also comfortable, these are going to be the ideal choice for you to make if you want something that will fight odors and also give you breathability. They are good for a range of things, since they fall in the 20-30 mmHG range, so you can be aided in so many endeavors through them.
- Stretches all ways
- Strong yet comfy
- No odors given off
- Slightly expensive
Toes&Feet Men’s Low Cut Compression Running Socks
If you don’t want to go to extreme lengths for compression, but you want your feet covered, then these low cut running socks are just for you. They don’t come up too high, so they won’t cover up ankles or legs, but they will make sure that your feet are aided as you run. They feature a footbed that is padded, an arch that has support, and are also much more breathable than regular socks thanks to the mesh they have used in them. They fit snugly enough to make sure they don’t slide up or down, and the lack of materials up your legs means they will be so much cooler in the warmer months. These are a great choice for an athlete or a runner, but obviously wouldn’t do you much good if you have a medical problem.
- Great for warm weather
- Awesome for athletics
- Support and pressure
- Not for medical issues
Daily_Use Three Pack 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks
Rounding out our list here is another choice that will give you great amounts of value. These socks, which come at a price that is basically three for one, also are going to give you a lot of consistent pressure, making sure that you are covered for flights, long days on your feet, and recovery from surgery, among other things. Unlike a lot of other used to be, they look really cool and have athletic looks to them, making sure that you won’t stand out and look too bad at all with them on. The toes are one area that is of interest, with them being made to support but not bind too much. The fabric wicks moisture as well, so even if they do cover your entire leg, they will be able to breathe out and give you some much needed air. The quality isn’t quite as good with these, but the price is great and they make the list based on that.
- Excellent value choice
- Myriad of purposes
- Toes support but not binding
- Not the best quality
Conclusion And Final Compression Socks Recommendations
As you can tell, there is a whole lot more to the world of compression socks than what you might originally have believed. From fitness junkies to those that have serious health conditions, they can provide a massive help as you seek to meet your goals. Those goals used to have to be compromised back in older times, seeing as how there were fewer options to be had, but you no longer have to worry with that. There are plenty of options to pick from out there. That might have once confused you, but after our list and buying guide today, you will be much more informed and equipped to make a good, solid decision about what it is you need. There’s literally something for everyone, so what are you waiting for?