How to Choose Compression Socks

How do I pick the right compression socks for me?

With many varieties of compression socks that vary in size, style, length, material, and compression level, it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right pair. If you are wearing your compression socks to help treat a medical condition, your doctor is the best resource you have.


As for size, many retailers provide measuring charts that instruct you on how to determine the size you need. Most sizing systems depend on what kind of compression sock you desire. For example, a knee sock or an over-the-knee sock probably will will take into account your shoe size. Full compression pantyhose are usually sized like regular, department store pantyhose. Their sizing is based off a ratio between your height and weight. Others might need measurements for ankle circumference, calf circumference, calf length, thigh circumference, and thigh length.


The style and material choose will depend on what you need your compression socks for. Some are made of spandex, lycra, or rubber and they come different lengths like knee, thigh, or full. Again, if you need compression socks for a medical condition, your doctor will tell you want is best for you. If you are simply wearing compression socks because you stand for long periods of time, or because you are sitting for a long period of time, simply wear what is comfortable for you.


The level of compression you need depends on what you are wearing compression socks for. Standard levels of compression include:

Light to moderate compression, 15-20 mm-Hg — You might need this if you traveling, if you stand all day at work, if you are pregnant, or if you experience mild leg swelling.

Moderate compression, 20-30 mm-Hg — This is for legs that often feel tired and heavy,or if you have moderate swelling and varicose veins because of pregnancy or another condition.

Firm compression, 30-40 mm-Hg — You might need this if you have moderate to severe varicose veins during pregnancy or due to another condition, moderate edema, after a vein treatment like vein stripping, as a treatment for ulcers, and to combat diseases like lymphedema.

Extra firm compression, 40-50 mm-Hg — This help with severe varicose veins or edema, severe lymphedema, chronic venous diseases, and severe post thrombotic syndrome.

Heavy compression, 50-60 mm-Hg — This strongest standard level of compression is for primary lymphedema and Severe Post Thrombotic Syndrome.


To learn how the compression can help alleviate pain, head to The Science Behind Compression Socks page.