When it comes to achy, swollen feet, there’s nothing better than a pair of good compression socks. Whether you work for hours on end while standing on your feet, suffer from circulation issues or varicose veins, or have recently undergone a surgery or medical procedure, the best compression socks can help to cure what ails you.
Why wear compression socks?
You might not think you need compression socks if you don’t have a medical condition, but there are tons of other reasons why you might want to snag a pair (or two!), even if your doctor hasn’t recommended them.
For instance, they’re ideal both during and after pregnancy. As your blood volume increases to prepare for baby, there’s added pressure on your veins, which can cause foot and leg pain. Pregnancy also puts you at a higher risk of developing varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots can form and cause symptoms such as swelling, redness, tenderness, and pain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 900,000 Americans will experience deep vein thrombosis each year, and compression socks help to prevent these clots from forming in legs, while also reducing any swelling, tenderness, and pain.
Deep vein thrombosis is also a risk while traveling. Long periods of sitting in a car or on a plane up your chances of developing blood clots, so compression socks are perfect for those long days of jet-setting or sightseeing.
Additionally, compression socks will help to reduce odor and sweat both during and after workouts, including walking, hiking, or running, while also keeping feet warm and comfortable during chilly fall and winter days.
What are compression socks?
According to WebMD, compression socks are special socks designed to apply pressure to your feet and calves to increase blood flow and prevent blood clots and swelling in your lower legs. They’re usually made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit that’s typically tighter around your ankle and gets looser as they travel up your calf.
How do compression socks work?
Compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and tissues in the leg, creating a more narrow channel for blood to work its way against gravity to the heart. This requires “increased arterial pressure,” which essentially improves circulation. These socks also help the flow of lymph fluids, which can, in turn, aid with leg fatigue, achiness, and swelling.
Compression is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) based on blood pressure, so most of these foot covers have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mm Hg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mm Hg. A 10 mm Hg is typically recommended for mild discomfort and achiness, while most medical conditions need slightly firmer socks.
To get the right fit, you can try powdering socks with cornstarch or talc before trying them on — particularly if your feet are already swollen — but you shouldn’t fold or roll them down, which can make them too tight and actually restrict blood flow — the exact opposite effect you’re hoping to achieve.
Whether they come doctor-recommended or you simply want to help your feet feel comfy and ache-free, every person should have a pair of compression socks in their sock drawer. Keep scrolling to shop FIRST‘s picks for the best compression socks for every need.
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Best Compression Socks for Long Flights— Physix Gear Compression Socks
Where to buy: From $19.23 (Originally $39.99), Amazon
Compression socks on long flights are a total game-changer. Not only do they keep your tootsies toasty in notoriously chilly plane cabins, they also help to protect your feet from dangerous blood clots caused by sitting for long periods. Physix Gear offers up a solid option as you pack for any family visits over the holidays — and beyond. While some compression socks can feel stiff and tight, these ones are soft and supportive with a durable, lycra material that's not only comfortable, it will help wick away moisture.
With more than 10,400 five-star reviews — nearly 1,000 of which mention their efficacy on long flights — these high socks, which come in nine cool color combos, are a must-have in your carry-on luggage.
Best Compression Socks for Working — Zensah Argyle Compression Socks
Where to buy: From $31.28, Amazon
Featuring six fun prints, Zensah's argyle compression socks will be your best bet for a post-workout shower or bath.
These high foot warmers provide runners, triathletes, cyclists, and athletes of all kinds with improved circulation and decreased recovery time thanks to advanced graduated compression. What's more, they offer full arch support and padding for toes and heels to increase shock absorption. They even help with shin splints — an overuse injury often seen in athletes that causes pain in the large front bone of the lower leg.
Best Compression Socks for Long Days — Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks
Where to buy: From $19.99, Amazon
We’ve all felt the ache of foot pain after spending an entire day standing on our barking dogs. Whether you regularly stand for long hours for your job or hobbies or simply want a bit of added comfort after an extra-busy day, you'll need look no further than Sockwell’s circulator compression socks for relief.
With just the right amount of support and a whopping 21 colors to choose from in two sizes (small/medium and medium/large), these socks have more than 1,500 five-star reviews on Amazon alone. They're equipped with Sockwell’s signature four zone graduated moderate compression (15-20 mm Hg), and come recommended by even medical professionals, with nurses and medical workers raving about them online.
Wrote one RN, "As a nurse, I work '12 hour' shifts, which in actuality can turn into 15 hours easily. I wear [these] the entire time ... and I don't have any difficulty."
Fuel Me Foot Socks
Best Copper Compression Socks— FuelMeFoot
Where to buy: From $9.75, Amazon
Copper is known for its ability to conduct electricity, and FuelMeFoot's copper-infused compression socks utilize that concept to give your blood a jolt, rejuvenating leg circulation with a moderate 15-20 mm Hg compression.
Available in slew of colors, these socks provide mild squeezing to warm, and ultimately enhance, blood flow through your legs. They also help remove stress and tension, relieving symptoms from conditions such as varicose veins, excess fluid retention, and plantar fasciitis, prevent injuries, and support your legs as they reduce fatigue, soreness, and cramping.
Copper also helps to naturally reduce odor, making these socks a great option for warm weather and active days alike.
Best Sheer Compression Socks— Oroblu Mi Bas Repos 70
Where to buy: $12.00, Nordstrom
These sheer knee-highs by Oroblu won't sacrifice comfort for style. In fact, they look elegant under just about anything, from your favorite work outfits to a glamorous getup for a night out on the town.
Available in three color options (black, nude, or skin), these socks provide graduated compression (medium support on legs and firm on the ankles) while giving off a subtle lavender scent that will help you to relax every time you place your feet in them.
A recent reviewer called these beauties “great support stockings,” adding that they’re “not too tight, but do a good job of supporting tired and swelling feet and legs."
Doc Miller Socks
Best Toeless Compression Socks— Doc Miller Compression Sleeve
Where to buy: From $12.47, Amazon
These Doc Miller compression sleeves provide all the leg support you need even without the toes — a great feature for those who mainly suffer from pain or discomfort in the lower legs.
Coming in dozens of colors and sizes up to 5XL, these socks are made from a blend of nylon and spandex and give legs a snug hug that will ease pain from aching calves, leg cramps, swelling or edema, shin splints, and varicose veins.
A medical-grade compression level of 20 to 30 mm Hg and graduated support also makes them ideal for use during athletic activities.
One thrilled reviewer who frequently wears sandals wrote, “I am supposed to wear compression hose most of the time, and it's challenging, living in Southern California [and being] frequently in sandals. The toeless compression hose have been fine. ... The sleeve lets me take care of wearing the compression hose without anyone seeing them below my pants leg. ... I'm going to order more!”
Crucial Compression Socks
Most Comfortable Compression Socks— Crucial Compression
Where to buy: From $13.95, Amazon
If you’re looking for the most comfortable compression socks out there, you've met your match in Crucial Compression. This brand has managed to marry firm compression levels of 20 to 30 mm Hg with a comfy, soft feeling — a rare feat for the market.
These knee-high socks are available in one of 10 different hues and come with power support technology that boasts improved circulation, since more oxygen and blood will be able to get through to toes, feet, heels, calves, and legs up to your knees. Plus, their premium ComfortFlex design offers a sung, moisture-wicking, lightweight, and breathable fit that won’t slip down or cut off your circulation.
These socks are recommended for anyone looking for comfortable lasting vascular support to relieve pain, reduce fatigue, swelling, edema, diabetic pain, and prevent blood clots after surgery.
Best Compression Socks With Toes— Injinji Ultra Compression OTC Sock
Where to buy: $49.00, Amazon
If you’re a fan of socks with toes, Injinji’s compression OTC socks are our top pick. The brand’s patented five-toe design protect each and every one of your tootsies against blisters and hot spots, while offering graduated compression from the ankles to shins. They’re lightweight, but still provide enough support to prevent achy muscles, especially after running, walking, or physical activities.
These also have reflective stripes for visibility on nighttime outings, resting over calves to aid with circulation and blood flow.
Best Antimicrobial Compression Socks — NEWZILL
Where to buy: From $6.99, Amazon
With a firm graduated compression of 20 to 30 mm Hg, NEWZILL gives compression sock-wearers a fun option for standing out in the crowd, with bright colors and zany heart, rainbow stripe, and polka dots prints that are sure to make heads turn in the best way possible.
More importantly, however, the company's patented Clima-Pro technology helps to prevent the growth of bacteria while wicking away moisture to keep your feet comfortable and clean, making them feel even better than they look.
Best Compression Socks for Poor Circulation — Sockwell Elevation Firm
Where to buy: $19.99, Amazon
Made of a cozy combo of merino wool, rayon, stretch nylon, and spandex, Sockwell’s elevation firm compression socks feature four zones of elevated compression (20 to 30 mm Hg) that start at the ankles — that means there'll be no tightness around your toes. These socks offer plenty of support to minimize swelling, reduce fatigue, stabilize muscles, and provide plantar fasciitis relief, while also helping to energize feet and legs.
Many reviewers with existing circulation issues report relief after wearing these, noting that the soft material is comfortable for all-day wear. Better yet, they come in 11 classic prints, so they’ll go with everything in your wardrobe.
Lish Plain Jane Socks
Best Plus Size Compression Socks— LISH Plain Jane Wide Calf Compression Socks
Where to buy: $34.99, Amazon
If you find traditional compression socks too restrictive on your larger calves, give LISH’s Plain Jane compression socks, which are specially designed for wider calves, a go: They comfortably fit ankle circumferences between 10 and 13 inches and calf circumferences between 14 and 24 inches.
A mild graduated compression level of 15 to 25 mm Hg makes them a stellar option for everyday wear, as they work to give stability and support to legs and feet without being restrictive or uncomfortably snug. Plus, with a wide range of classic colors, you'll never run out of sockwear!
Compression Z Socks
Best Medical Grade Compression Socks — CompressionZ
Where to buy: $18.99, Amazon
Whether you’re healing from a surgical procedure or simply have a medical condition that requires extra support, CompressionZ’s socks are worth trying on for size. They offer high 30-40 mm HG compression, ideal for those who suffer from deep vein thrombosis, chronic leg fatigue, severe swelling, and other medical conditions.
These socks keep leg muscles and veins sufficiently compressed to boost circulation levels in the lower legs without limiting motion.
Sufferers of all kinds of medical conditions — from plantar fasciitis to blood clots — boast about the support given by these socks, making them an excellent buy for anyone who needs a bit more pressure than your run-of-the-mill varieties.
Best Compression Socks for Runners— Vitalsox Graduated Compression Socks
Where to buy: From $12.17, Amazon
These compression socks by Vitalsox are uniquely infused with silver to resist fungus growth and wick moisture away, making them a solid choice for runners during training, racing, and recovery.
Their graduated compression starts mid-foot, helping to support your plantar ligaments, arches, and heels, while also preventing blood pooling.
Better circulation also means faster recovery time and better performance when you lace up your sneakers, so you’ll want to to grab these socks every time you hit the pavement — and maybe once you return, too!
Laite Hebe Socks
Best Value Compression Socks — Laite Hebe
Where to buy: From $16.59, Amazon
These compression socks by Laite Hebe are proof you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a cozy, soft pair.
Available in a wide range of assorted eight-packs, these No. 1 Amazon best-sellers feature a smooth heel and toe in a form-fitting, lightweight, and breathable blend of fabrics that is both supportive and comfortable.
More than 7,000 reviewers agree, boasting about the affordable price point and coziness of this brand. Wrote one happy camper: "These compression socks are game-changers for me. The material is such that they offer great compression without me struggling with a death grip to put them on."
Vim & Vgr Socks
Most Stylish Compression Socks— Vim & Vigr
Where to buy: From $18.95, Amazon
If you want compression socks that don't look quite so... functional, you’ll love Vim & Vigr’s stylish version, which come in a slew of chic, cute patterns you’ll actually want to show off. We particularly love the polka-dot print, which will look fantastic with all your fall and winter outfits to come.
Made from a blend of cotton, spandex, and nylon, these socks still offer just enough compression to be beneficial, however, while still remaining comfortable.
Cep Tall Socks
Best Overall Compression Socks— CEP Tall Socks
Where to buy: From $28.70, Amazon
CEP’s tall socks are the best all-around option for reducing pesky and painful swelling, fatigue, and cramping, especially for athletic use — Wear them during marathon training, hiking, basketball, cycling, or long runs to to prevent shin splints. They're also perfectly suitable for relaxing at home, during travel, or at work.
These socks mold to the shape of your feet without feeling restrictive on legs and toes, giving a snug fit that will prevent blisters. The nifty halo top-band that sits right below the knee also aids in keeping socks in place. Genius!