Compression socks are much like regular socks, but they are designed to gently squeeze your legs. This helps with blood flow and can help people who stand for long periods or play sports.
Compression socks can sometimes also help to alleviate pain and can lower the chances of circulation problems, including blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.
Compression socks can be incredibly helpful, but in order to ensure they’re working correctly, it’s very important to make sure you’ve gotten a pair in the correct size.
What size compression socks do I need?
Sometimes, you can figure out what size compression socks you need by comparing the size to what you would normally wear or your shoe size.
Other times, you can determine what size you need by considering your height and weight. For example, if you’re between 4 foot 10 inches and 5 foot 7 inches and weigh between 90 and 145 pounds, a small size will probably work.
If you’re between 5 foot 2 inches and 5 foot 10 inches, however, and you weigh between 140 and 200 pounds, you might need a large.
However, estimating in this way leaves a lot up to guessing. Not only that but, like many clothing items, each compression sock brand measures its socks in different ways.
A small sock size in one brand might be a medium or even a large in another brand. For these reasons, it’s best to take detailed measurements of your legs and use those measurements to compare to a brand’s size chart.
This helps to ensure that you’re getting the perfect size the first time.
Where should I measure?
The first measurement you need to take is around the ankle. Use a flexible tape measure and measure the circumference of the ankle at the narrowest point. Then, measure around the calf at the widest point.
Finally, measure from the floor to your knee to get your calf length measurement. If you’re planning to wear compression socks that only go up to the knee, those are the only measurements you’ll need.
However, if you need compression socks that reach past your thigh, you should also measure the circumference of your thigh where it meets the groin.
You’ll also need to measure your overall leg length by measuring from the floor to the very top of your thigh.
When you measure, keep your foot flat on the floor and either stand, to measure your thigh length, or keep your knee at a 90-degree angle.
It’s best to take measurements against bare skin, as any clothing can add a surprising amount to each measurement. Pull the measuring tape snug but don’t tighten it or constrict it when measuring.
It’s often best to measure for compression socks as soon as possible after you’ve gone for a walk or done some light exercise. This helps to ensure that any swelling is as low as possible and that there’s very little pooling of blood.
This ensures that the socks will fit snugly and will work as they’re supposed to.
What level of compression should I get?
Aside from the physical size of the sock, it’s crucial that you purchase socks that offer the amount of compression you need. Compression sock tightness is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, which is similar to how blood pressure is often measured.
Mild compression socks offer between 8 and 15 mmHg. They’re a good choice for people who have tired or sore legs after standing for a long period of time. They can also help to reduce some mild swelling.
Moderate compression socks offer between 15 and 20 mmHg. This is often the most popular choice for compression level, as it offers good support and promotes healthy blood flow while reducing pain, but it isn’t overly tight.
This is a great choice for people who experience discomfort from standing for a long period of time. It can also relieve swollen legs and ankles and can sometimes help to alleviate the risk of deep vein thrombosis or minimize the pain from varicose veins.
Firm compression socks offer between 20 and 30 mmHg. These socks can help with anything from moderate to severe pain and can help to reduce swelling.
This level is a good choice for people who experience a blood pressure drop if they sit or stand for a long period of time. It can also help to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis during long flights, so this type of compression sock is often worn while flying.
Extra firm compression socks offer 30 to 40 mmHg. This amount of compression can sometimes cause unwanted side effects, so this level is most often used only when the person is under medical supervision. It can help to ease pain and reduce swelling.
Extreme compression socks offer between 40 and 50 mmHg. This type of sock is almost always worn by patients who must stay in bed.