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Buying compression socks is a personal journey, because they come in a variety of different styles and strengths, and some can only be prescribed by a doctor. But these days, some of the best compression socks are available to buy online, with a number of sizes, materials and designs that make them great for everyday wear, in addition to helping with specific ailments.
What Are Compression Socks?
Compression socks are used by everyone from nurses who spend all day on their feet to athletes who spend all day doing rigorous physical activity. The general principle behind compression socks is that by squeezing the blood vessels around your leg, they can help prevent the blood from clotting near the ankle and foot, keeping blood flowing freely through the veins and to the heart. This can help ease chronic pain, reduce swelling, treat varicose veins, and more.
As with any medical device, you should consult your doctor about the strength and type you need for your particular issue. And while there are medically prescribed versions, if you’re buying compression socks over the counter, so to speak, there are some things to think about.
What to Consider When Buying Compression Socks
Once you’ve assessed your medical needs, here are some things to think about when buying your socks.
Type: Compression socks come in a variety of types and styles. Most commonly you’ll see the knee-high kind, which have graduated pressure going up the full length of the calf, with the firmest pressure around the ankle. You can also find short, ankle-length compression socks that are ideal for foot pain or running, or toe-less ankle-brace versions which can be worn with or without socks. Just make sure the sock fits correctly and doesn’t roll at the cuff — which could actually create a sort of tourniquet and cut off blood flow.
Strength: Compression socks come in a variety of strengths that are measured in mmHg. Pressure levels on the lower end have 15-20 mmHg, which are great for people who work on their feet all day, travel, or light sports recovery. The next level, 20-30 mmHg isn’t prescription grade yet, but can be effective for treating medical issues such as deep vein thrombosis or swelling.
Copper Ions: Copper is thought to help ease pain, but so far research backing up the idea that copper compression socks can help, is limited to zero. Copper is, however, a natural antibacterial agent, so it can help with odor.
1. PAPLUS Ankle Compression Sock
Compression socks don’t always have to be pulled knee-high. In fact, many brands are making ankle-length compression socks.
When it comes to ankle socks for running, we like these 15-20 mmHg socks, which include arch support and a seamless toe and achilles heel padding for comfort. Unlike many running socks, which bunch or slip down into the shoe as you move, people agree on the superior fit of these socks which stay put, even when you’re on the move.
2. Graduated Medical Compression Socks
These knee-length compression socks are comfortable to wear all day, which might have something to do with the brand’s superior sizing guides and graduated pressure throughout. The pressure level is 20-30 mmHg, so they provide a little more pressure that could be great for issues like DVT and arthritis. They’re also great after a workout, for athletic recovery.
3. TechWare Pro Ankle Brace Compression Sleeve
This sleeve or ankle-brace style pair of compression socks provide firm, 20-30 mmHg pressure, and are thin and comfortable enough to be worn with an additional pair of socks, or on their own. The manufacturer notes the no-slip fit and four-way stretch ergonomic design intended to allow a full range of motion. The socks are lightweight enough to wear for long periods of time (say, to help relieve stress on your foot), and the toe-less design makes this a super breathable pair to slip on.
4. CHARMKING Compression Socks
The 15-20 mmHg graduated pressure of these knee-high compression socks are great if you want some pressure, but are uncomfortable with socks that are too tight. They have a unisex design and stretchy fabric for comfortable mobility, and, conveniently, come in a pack of three.