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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