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Best Compression Socks

Updated April 2018
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  • 34 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 352 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping Guide for Best Compression Socks

    Last Updated April 2018

    If you spend most of your day sitting or standing and find yourself experiencing painful swollen legs and feet as a result, a pair of compression socks could be just what you need. Shown to dramatically improve blood flow, compression socks effectively refresh and energize tired legs and are often prescribed as a means to prevent and treat a number of circulatory conditions. Indeed, donning a pair of compression socks daily is a practical measure anyone can take to give their legs a boost. But with the multitude of styles, colors, materials, and sizes available, finding your perfect match can be overwhelming.

    To give you a leg up in choosing the right compression socks for your needs, we've gathered five of the very best in our matrix above. At BestReviews, we go the extra mile to bring you informative and objective product reviews. We never accept free samples from manufacturers; every product we review is selected by us, so you can have complete confidence that our reviews are honest and completely free from bias. If you’re in a hurry, jump straight to our top five contenders to select your favorite pair of compression socks. Or, put your feet up and continue reading our in-depth guide to finding the best compression socks available.

    Compression socks have been in use for over 160 years. Modern compression socks come in a variety of strengths and can be used by just about anyone to maintain and improve leg health.

    How compression socks work

    In simple terms, compression socks give your veins the much-needed support they require to function properly. Under normal circumstances, our leg muscles contract, squeezing the veins and pushing blood back up toward the heart each time they do. However, during periods of inactivity (such as prolonged sitting or standing), or in cases where the walls of the veins are weakened, the continuous downward pull of gravity can take its toll. By hugging the muscles of the foot and leg, compression socks help narrow and straighten vein walls. This in turn keeps the valves within the veins in alignment, allowing them to open and direct blood flow toward the heart before they snap shut.

    Why is this so important? Well, valves that are positioned too far apart and don't meet cannot close properly. When valves don't close, blood is allowed to flow both up and down. This often leads to blood pooling in the lower extremities, causing swelling, discomfort, and a generalized feeling of heaviness within the legs and feet.

    More than just a treatment for existing conditions, the use of compression socks can help keep veins healthy by encouraging optimal circulation, and many people report improved levels of comfort when wearing them.


    Putting compression socks on before getting out of bed may be easier, as the legs are less likely to be swollen.

    Staff  | BestReviews

    Types of compression socks

    Size, length, and compression levels aside, compression socks generally fall within one of two categories: graduated compression socks and anti-embolism or TED hose.

    Anti-embolism or thrombo-embolic deterrent (ted) hose

    Sometimes referred to as uniform compression socks because they provide equal levels of pressure throughout, TED hose are used almost exclusively post-surgery to assist healthy blood flow during extended periods of immobilization. As anti-embolism compression socks are designed specifically for bedridden patients, the levels of compression tend to be significantly lower than most graduated varieties.


    Certain conditions, such as peripheral neuropathy, peripheral artery disease, dermatitis, skin infections, fragile skin, and massive swelling don't allow for the use of compression socks. Always consult a doctor to avoid unintentionally complicating existing conditions.

    Graduated compression socks

    Easily the most common, not to mention versatile, graduated compression socks are commonly used to prevent and treat spider veins, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), edema (swelling), and generalized discomfort caused by prolonged standing/sitting or pregnancy. These types of compression socks are designed to fit tightest at the ankle with decreasing levels of pressure going up the leg.

    Graduated compression socks come in a range of styles, including knee-high, thigh-high, and waist-high, as well as varying levels of compression. Designed for everyday use, some graduated socks even sport fun colors and patterns, affording wearers the opportunity to step out in style.


    Diabetics frequently experience impaired circulation and can benefit greatly from wearing compression socks and stockings.

    Compression sock styles

    Compression socks come in a variety of styles. Each style offers its own specific set of advantages and drawbacks.

    • Knee-high and below-the-knee compression socks sport the length preferred by most people for everyday use. Perfect for swollen, achy legs and feet, these compression socks tend to be easier to put on than most other styles. However, they don't offer support for any venous insufficiency stemming from above the knee.

    • Thigh-high compression stockings are a good option for people with problem areas extending to or above the knee. While they are susceptible to riding down, many thigh-high compression stockings feature silicone bands to help keep them in place.

    • Waist-high compression stockings offer full-length compression from hip to toe. These stockings shouldn’t ride uncomfortably, but they may prove to be a bit too much for some people. For those who prefer or require extensive coverage, many elegant options are available which closely resemble fashionable hosiery. Maternity compression stockings are also available in this style and provide expectant mothers with welcomed support and a reduced risk of developing spider and varicose veins.

    • Compression sleeves, also known as open-fit compression socks, are an option for those who plan on wearing sandals or simply prefer keeping their toes and feet in the open air. However, compression sleeves can be less effective at preventing blood from pooling around the ankles and feet and should be avoided entirely in the presence of swelling.

    • Athletic compression socks are basically the same as knee-high compression socks, with the exception of the fact that they provide some extra padding and flexibility in certain areas. As these socks are designed specifically for active individuals, they may offer improved durability, and, in some cases, breathability. Nevertheless, many athletes still find regular compression socks perfectly suitable for rigorous activities.


    Always take the time to make sure your compression socks are straight and wrinkle-free. Bunches and creases are not only uncomfortable, they could actually exacerbate the problem by restricting blood flow.

    Compression levels

    In the medical field, pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and the level of compression most suitable for you will depend on your personal needs. It's always a good idea to consult with a qualified physician regarding correct compression, and the below guidelines are by no means intended replace medical advice.

    Mild compression (between 8 and 15 mmhg)

    These compression levels may be used to help maintain healthy legs and alleviate generalized discomfort and fatigue. They can also be used to help reduce the risk of spider veins and varicose veins.

    Moderate compression (between 15 and 20 mmhg)

    Socks that provide moderate compression aid in the prevention of and relief from mild varicose and spider veins. These socks may reduce swelling, aches, and pains, and they may be used by long-distance travelers to help prevent deep DVT.


    Signs of skin irritation, redness, or other discoloration may be an indication of a poor fit and should be addressed immediately to avoid complications.

    Firm compression (between 20 and 30 mmhg)

    Socks with firm compression are used in the management of a variety of venous disorders. They may help to prevent and treat moderate to severe varicose/spider veins. They reduce swelling caused by the pooling of blood in the lower extremities and can be used to prevent DVT while traveling.

    Extra-firm compression (between 30 and 40 mmhg)

    Compression socks with this level of pressure should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. They are most frequently prescribed in the treatment and management of severe venous disorders.


    When putting your compression socks on, avoid using lotions beforehand, and make sure your legs are completely dry. Sprinkling a little powder on your legs can make it easier to get them on.

    Staff  | BestReviews

    Compression sock size

    Figuring out the correct sizing can be a little tricky, but this step is absolutely imperative when it comes to efficacy. If your compression socks are too loose, you're unlikely to experience any benefits whatsoever. On the other hand, if your compression socks are too tight, they could cut off blood flow and actually exacerbate the problem.

    • Knee-high compression socks will need to be measured at three individual points:

      • The narrowest circumference of your ankle

      • The widest circumference of your calf

      • The height from the base of your foot to the crease of your knee

    • Thigh-high compression stockings require four measurements:

      • The narrowest circumference of your ankle

      • The widest circumference of your calf

      • The widest circumference of your thigh, just below the crease of your buttocks

      • The height from the base of your foot to the point measured on your thigh

    • Waist-high compression stockings require four to five measurements:

      • The narrowest circumference of your ankle

      • The widest circumference of your calf

      • The widest circumference of your thigh, just below the crease of your buttocks

      • The height from the base of your foot to the bottom of your buttocks

      • If required, the circumference of the widest point of your hips

    Measurements taken first thing in the morning tend to be the most accurate, as any possible swelling will be at a minimum.

    Knee-high compression socks are generally the most comfortable. If you're considering using them for non-medical reasons, such as improved athletic performance or achy legs and feet, these are a good option.


    Compression sock materials

    Many compression socks are a blend of lycra, cotton, spandex, and nylon, woven in different patterns and thicknesses. Some compression socks – athletic and waist-high varieties in particular – feature silver textiles. These are incorporated into the material in the form of silver nanoparticles which are bonded to the fabric during the manufacturing process. Silver is a natural antimicrobial, known to repel and interrupt the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungus.

    Athletic compression socks should also include moisture-wicking materials. Microfibers will provide superior comfort and breathability – important features for any intended length of use.


    To avoid potential allergic reactions, opt for latex-free compression socks.

    Staff  | BestReviews

    Compression sock prices

    The cost of compression socks depends on the length of the socks and the compression level, as well as the brand.

    The higher the level of compression, the more you can expect to pay.

    • Mild compression socks can range from $10 and $20+, materials and brand depending.

    • Moderate to firm compression socks usually cost between $40 and $60.

    • Prescription compression socks can set you back anywhere from $70 to $100+.

    Having at least two pairs of compression socks will ensure you always have a clean pair to wear while washing the other.


    Q. I don't have any symptoms of an underlying circulatory condition. Can I still benefit from wearing compression socks?

    A. Absolutely. Many people wear compression socks to keep their legs feeling energized, and many medical professionals recommend using them as a preventative measure for patients who travel frequently or spend long hours sitting or standing. They can also be worn during pregnancy to prevent spider veins and varicose veins while simultaneously providing relief from achy, swollen legs, ankles, and feet. Athletes and runners can also benefit from the added support and improved circulation.

    Q. How long should I keep my compression socks on?

    A. This depends on the compression level of the socks and also your reason for wearing them. Those using mild to moderate compression socks for comfort or as a preventative measure can generally wear them for as long as they're comfortable. Individuals diagnosed with venous disorders or other medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional on the correct usage. Wearing compression socks to bed is not recommended unless you've been instructed to do so by your doctor, as this may cut off circulation.

    Q. How can I take care of my compression socks?

    A. Although some varieties are machine washable, we recommend gently hand-washing your compression socks with a mild detergent in lukewarm water. Remember to never wring your compression socks out, as this could cause them to stretch and lose elasticity. Rather, roll them in a towel and gently press down on them to remove moisture. Air-dry or tumble-dry on low heat if possible. To avoid damage, always refer to manufacturer instructions before washing or drying compression socks.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Erica
    • Jennifer
    • Melissa
      Senior Editor