Best Compression Socks Types

compression socks


What comes to your mind when you think of compression stockings or socks? Unflattering, hot, an uncomfortable shade of beige?

Well, gone are the days when there was a limit of compression socks to choose from. Technology has bestowed us with endless compression socks and stocking options.

If you’ve been experiencing leg pains or aches or suffer from varicose veins, give compression socks a try. Compression stockings and socks can help improve blood circulation, boost energy levels, and in turn reduce soreness and swelling in the lower body and legs.

Definitely give these pairs of socks a try if you’re an active traveler or in a sensitive age group. Different compression grades and styles come into use for their design for catering to diverse user needs.

Your typical compression stocking is designed to be tight around the ankle and the midfoot and have a gradual decrease in tightness as it goes high up the leg.

Compression socks may either be made from rubber or elastic fibers since the main motive is the compression of limbs to assist in blood circulation. Yes, that’s the foremost reason for their availability at different compression levels.

mmHg is the unit that comes into use for classifying pressure. A person may experience over-the-counter help by using socks with pressure around 10-15 mmHg to somewhere around 15-20 mmHg.

However, if you’re looking for higher pressures that are 50+ mmHg, then you require a fitter that’s adequately trained and a doctor’s prescription.

Another thing that you can look for is the custom-made products that are used by manufacturers in Europe and the US. These finely flat-knitted socks have been developed for catering pressure ranges between 18-21 mmHg to somewhere around >50 mmHg.

Can’t wait to choose your favorite compression socks? Are you overwhelmed by available options? This guide will demystify compression socks and help you make the right decision for yourself.

Compression Socks Types

Non-medical Grade Compression Socks

This type of compression socks is usually classified between 15-20 mmHg, indicating the tightness of the compression socks. Athletes across the world use compression socks for running since these are well-fitted, and one can have it without a doctor’s prescription. These are ideal for tired legs or during travel.

Medical Grade Compression Socks

These socks have a higher level of compression, which is somewhere between 20-30 mmHg or even 30-40 mmHg, and require a prescription by a doctor. Although socks with higher compression levels are also available, those aren’t recommended. Treatment of numerous medical conditions requires their usage. Annual prescription renewal is mandatory for this type of socks.

Knee High Compression Socks

These socks are available in diverse thicknesses and styles that range from ultra-sheer material to cotton sock thick material. You can also choose open or closed-toe styles, and also numerous colors. According to recent research, there is a 6% risk of having deep vein thrombosis when a person opts for knee-high socks.

Thigh High Compression Socks

These socks come into use when compression for a full leg is required, which can be for one leg or both the legs. These are also available in diverse toes, fabrics, and colors. Also, these contain silicone bands, which help in minimizing slippage. Health experts suggest going in for thigh-high compression socks if one wants to reduce the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis to as low as 4%.

Maternity / Pantyhose Socks

This product comes into use for clients who require full leg support during pregnancy for combating swelling and leg fatigue while also preventing varicose veins development. Pregnant women prefer using pantyhose styles since it works wonders in accommodating the growing belly with the progression of pregnancy.

Compression Socks Fabric and Material

Compression socks not only differ in their medical usage but also in material and style, each offering a different compression level and durability.

For example, you can consider opaque fabrics if you’re thinking of buying durable socks. Opaque material socks not only help in the treatment of clinical conditions like leg edema and varicose veins, but are also comfortable, durable, and unisex.

However, if your heart aches to have more stylish socks, then you can opt for sheer fabrics. Although socks with these fabrics do not provide significant compression and are easily prone to wear and tear, they can help you make a style statement. The choice is yours – style or compression.

The Takeaway

Compression socks work tremendously well as a preventive measure for maintaining healthy legs, especially for someone who spends a long time sitting or standing.

The forces of gravity increase the vein pressure affecting the ankle, legs, and the body as a whole. This is where compression socks come to use. Compression socks work great to counter high venous pressure.

Ideally, look for products that cater to your specific compression needs. You can find materials that are exquisitely designed for sleeves, leggings, and some sports recovery suits. You can choose from different types of socks that offer a wide range of health benefits, or go purely for style socks.

I recommend consulting with a doctor to learn which graduated compression socks will work the best for you since they have the expertise in knowing which one to choose for maximum relief and benefits.

Grab the best socks, folks, and make your feet feel better!

Have you used compression stockings or socks before? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below…

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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