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What Are Compression Socks: Everything You Need to Know

Verified by Kiera Powell, R.N. and written by Brianna Maguire on Thu Sep 09 2021.
Medically Verified

For a lot of people, compression socks, or compression stockings, seem like magic. Just slip them on and enjoy relief from aches and pains, as well as a number of other health benefits. But they aren’t magic—they’re science. They are used by many, such as runners, people with diabetes, those recovering from surgery, and even during pregnancy. Squeezing and massaging blood vessels throughout the legs helps the vessels to relax, so that blood flows more freely, without fear of clotting. So, what are compression socks?

What are compression socks?

They are tall, snug socks that squeeze your legs and feet in order to stimulate blood flow. They’re typically very tight at the ankle and loosen up around knees and thighs. Usually made of elastic and soft material, like cotton or spandex, compression stockings are comfortable and useful. They are also available as ankle socks, which specifically help with providing pressure for the calf, foot, shin, and ankle.

What are the benefits of compression socks?

Wearing compression socks can provide relief and comfort whether you’re bedridden or a professional athlete. Do your legs feel tired and achy after long periods of time? Worried about spider veins or varicose veins? Compression socks circulate blood and can even help prevent clots in the lower legs by increasing circulation. They also stimulate upward blood flow which is how they help reduce swelling.

How do they work?

Compression socks work by applying pressure across your legs using something called graduated compression. Graduated compression promotes a venous return, which reduces the risk of developing varicose veins and also prevents edema. This increases blood circulation which helps prevent any leg swelling, embolism, or clots, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), from forming. They can provide different amounts of pressure that are measured in mmHg. mmHg is a millimeter of mercury, which is how blood pressure is also measured.

Do I need them?

Compression socks are ideal for a number of people, such as:

  • Those recovering from recent surgery

  • During pregnancy for pregnant women who want to combat foot swelling

  • Those with diabetes or other venous concerns who need better circulation

  • People who stand all day and want relief from aching, throbbing feet

  • Athletes with muscle soreness who want to decrease recovery time

  • Bedridden loved ones who want to lessen their risk of the blood clots that can sometimes arise in those that are sedentary

What are the best compression socks?

The best compression socks for you depend on your unique needs, but at Carewell, we’re pretty fond of these by JOBST. Soft, comfortable, and with the look and feel of real socks, it’s like wearing your daily socks with extra benefits. They’re also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, so you never have to worry about odors.

What are compression socks? Now you know! Do your feet need extra love? Our foot care products are here to keep your feet clean, healthy, soft, and odor-free. Reach out to our friendly Care Team at 855-855-1666 if you have any questions about our products!

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Brianna Maguire

Brianna Maguire heads up Carewell’s Customer Care Team, and serves as a resource for caregivers that need support. Whether it’s helping customers decide which products are best for their needs, answering caregiver questions, or just providing a shoulder to lean on on a tough day, her job is to make caregivers’ lives easier.