What Do Compression Socks Do? Benefits & Uses Explained


Ever felt that heavy, tired pressure in your legs after a long day of work or exercise?

Custom compression socks might just be the solution you need!

These miracle workers not only alleviate discomfort but can also prevent a variety of health issues related to your legs.

So, what do compression socks do? As your friendly sock experts at Sockrates, we'll teach you all about compression socks: their benefits, different types, and how to find the perfect pair for you.

Let's begin!

Table of Contents

Understanding How Compression Socks Work

A person wearing knee-high compression socks to prevent blood clots
Compression socks are great to relieve leg pain and swelling.

Compression socks, unlike other socks, are specially designed to apply pressure or gently squeeze your lower extremities, improving blood flow and reducing swelling.

They come in various types, such as graduated compression socks, anti-embolism stockings, and medical-grade compression stockings.

But don’t be overwhelmed by the options; once you understand the basics, selecting the perfect pair becomes simple.

Wearing compression stockings or compression socks offers numerous health benefits, including improved circulation, reduced leg fatigue, and prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and varicose veins.

However, not all compression socks are created equal; thus, factors like the compression level, fit, and fabric require consideration before making a purchase.

How Do Compression Socks Work?

Compression socks and compression stockings work by applying gentle pressure to your foot and leg tissues, squeezing them to:

  • Keep swelling down
  • Push blood up
  • Get rid of excess fluid
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Boost blood flow from your legs to your heart

The levels in compression socks can range from 8 to 50 mmHg, with mild compression being suitable for less severe conditions and more firm compression being suitable for more severe conditions.

Our custom compression socks are 25-35 mmHG.

They should feel snug and gently squeeze around your feet and ankles but gradually loosen as they go higher up your leg.

If there's too much pressure, they can constrict blood vessels and cause more harm than good.

On the other hand, compression socks that don't have enough pressure won’t provide the necessary compression to improve circulation, reduce swelling and prevent leg ulcers.

Types of Compression Socks

Custom compression socks by Sockrates offer relief to people with medical conditions
Create custom compression socks with our team of Socktologists

There’s a variety of other socks made with compression available, including:

  • Knee-high
  • Thigh-high
  • Waist-high tights
  • Leg sleeves
  • Compression Stockings

These socks are designed to provide a more gentle pressure or squeeze to your legs and feet, often used for medical reasons or during physical activity.

Graduated compression socks, for example, get tighter at your feet and ankles while loosening at the top, helping prevent blood from pooling in your feet and promoting improved circulation.

Anti-embolism stockings, on the other hand, are specifically made for those with limited mobility and offer lower pressure levels.

It's important to talk to your medical advisor and get a professional fitting to find out what works for you.

How Long Can You Wear Compression Socks?

Compression socks are great for athletes or people with increased risk of vascular disease
Compression socks have multiple health benefits

The duration for which you can wear compression stockings and compression socks depends on the reason for wearing them.

If you're wearing them for medical reasons such as post-surgical recovery or vascular disease, your healthcare provider might advise you to wear them 24 hours a day until you can move around freely.

However, for general usage like reducing swelling or promoting circulation during long periods of standing or sitting, it's advisable to wear them throughout the day and take them off at night.

This gives your skin a chance to breathe and helps maintain the elasticity.

It's also essential to wash your knee compression socks regularly.

Having a couple of pairs allows you to rotate them, ensuring you always have a clean pair ready to wear.

The length of time you can wear compression socks can vary based on your individual needs and circumstances, but typically, they can be worn for the entire day and should be taken off at night.

What Are Compression Socks Used For?

An body builder wearing compression socks and showing improved blood flow in their legs
Boost blood flow and recover faster after intense exercise

Custom compression socks offer an array of benefits, according to the NHS.

These socks can help:

  • Boost blood flow
  • Reduce swelling and aches in the legs and ankles
  • Ward off deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Aid in post-exercise muscle recovery

Not only are they beneficial for medical conditions, but they can also come in handy for everyday activities.

Whether you’re an athlete, pregnant, or someone who stands for long periods, compression socks can provide relief and support to your legs and feet. They can:

  • Ease swelling
  • Alleviate leg pain
  • Reduce the feeling of heaviness during pregnancy
  • Help reduce the chances of getting spider or varicose veins

For those who stand for extended periods, it’s beneficial to wear compression stockings, as they can help keep swelling down and reduce pain and tiredness.

For Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency

Individuals with varicose veins and venous insufficiency can also benefit greatly from wearing compression socks.

Compression socks work by decreasing the amount of blood in the deeper leg veins and increasing the speed of blood flow, by adding gentle pressure and preventing blood build-up and reversing blood flow.

To treat varicose veins and venous insufficiency, basic panty-hose or knee-high socks are often recommended, providing mild compression to the veins and easing symptoms.

Graduated compression stockings are also popular, usually at a 20-30 mmHg strength.

It’s advisable to wear them throughout the day and while sleeping, replacing the stockings every 3 to 6 months.

For Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Prevention

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a type of venous disease that can make blood clot and pose serious risks if not treated.

Compression socks and compression stockings can play a crucial role in preventing venous disease by boosting blood flow and keeping the pressure and the risk of blood clots low.

They’re often recommended as part of the recovery process after surgeries, especially on the hips, knees, legs, or abdomen, and when general anesthesia is used for more than 90 minutes.

Consistent use of compression socks can:

  • Reduce the risk of blood clots
  • Improve blood flow
  • Help prevent DVT
  • Avoid complications like chronic vein inflammation, varicose veins, and pulmonary embolism.

For Leg Swelling and Pain Relief

Compression socks can be a game-changer for those suffering from leg swelling and pain.

By using compression therapy increasing blood flow in your legs and reducing the risk of blood pooling in your feet and ankles, compression socks can help improve circulation and alleviate swelling and discomfort.

They can also aid in muscle recovery after exercise by decreasing swelling and boosting circulation.

So, whether you’re dealing with everyday aches and pains or recovering from a strenuous workout, compression socks can be your trusty companion.

Selecting the Right Compression Socks

Receive a professional fitting to ensure your knee compression socks are tailored for your needs
Sockrates can create any custom sock design you can imagine

As we mentioned earlier, not all compression socks are created equal.

Choosing the perfect pair of compression socks involves considering factors like the level of compression, fit, and material.

Your unique legs, needs and circumstances will guide the selection of the right type and level of a compression sock, hence the importance of consulting a healthcare professional.

In addition to the levels of compression, the fit and material you choose are crucial for comfort and durability.

The right fit ensures that the socks provide proper compression, while the material can affect their longevity and effectiveness.

Determining Compression Levels

An image illustrating the benefits of compression socks on your legs: improve blood flow and reduce swelling, answering the question 'what do compression socks do'
Sockrates custom compression socks are 25-35 mmHG.

Understanding the different levels of compression and their suitability for various conditions is essential for choosing the right compression stockings or socks.

Milder compression, with lower numbers, is usually sufficient for everyday wear at work, while firmer compression with higher numbers are needed for those at increased risk of DVT.

To determine the appropriate compression level for your needs, consult with your doctor, who can measure your legs and prescribe the right amount graduated compression for you.

Quality compression stockings and socks usually range from mild (15-20 mmHg) to moderate (20-30 mmHg) to firm (30-40 mmHg).

Finding the Perfect Fit

A woman wearing ankle compression socks to improve blood flow and to treat post thrombotic syndrome

Getting the right fit for your compression stockings and socks makes all the difference in comfort and effectiveness.

To ensure a proper fit, you can follow these steps:

  1. Visit a pharmacist or technician who can measure your thighs, calves, and ankles.
  2. Alternatively, you can take measurements yourself in the morning with your legs at a 90-degree angle. Measure your ankle, leg and calf circumference and the length of your calf from your knee to your heel.
  3. Use the sizing guide on the sock packaging to find the right fit based on your measurements.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you wear compression socks properly, and they fit well to provide the desired benefits.

Avoid common mistakes when measuring for compression socks, such as:

  • Selecting the wrong size
  • Folding the socks
  • Applying ointments or creams
  • Not ironing out wrinkles
  • Pulling the socks up too far

By ensuring a firm compression, you can maximize the benefits of your compression socks.

Material Considerations

The material of your compression socks plays a significant role in their comfort and durability.

Mercerized cotton, for example, offers comfort, is hypoallergenic, sustainable, and ethically responsible, but can be harder to find and more expensive.

The fabric density affects the compression level of the socks, which can impact their durability.

Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are great for wicking moisture and keeping feet dry, which can help prevent legs swelling and damage.

At Sockrates, our custom compression socks are made with 70% nylon and 30% spandex which offers a high quality, functional and affordable option.

Opt for high-quality materials to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your compression socks.

Compression Socks from Sockrates

Custom medical grade compression socks by Sockrates for Quick Fix
Visit our custom sock gallery to get inspiration for your custom sock project

If you’re in the market for high-quality custom compression socks, Sockrates has got you (and your feet) covered!

Here's what makes us unique:

  • Free designs with unlimited revisions
  • Custom labels
  • 25 day turnaround
  • Free worldwide shipping
  • Full Pantone™ color matching
  • Transparent pricing

At Sockrates, our dedicated team of sock designers will collaborate with you to create a customized design that goes beyond the benefits of compression stockings.

Our aim is to ensure you and your team feel comfortable and look your best, allowing you or your brand's unique identity to shine.

Proper Use and Care of Compression Socks

A person wearing graduated compression stockings to improve blood flow in their legs while walking
Compression socks can be both stylish and beneficial to your legs health

Correct use and care are vital to maximizing the benefits of your compression socks.

This includes washing and drying them after every use and having at least two pairs to alternate between.

Adhering to the proper usage and care instructions can enhance the benefits and longevity of your compression socks.

Wearing and Removing Compression Socks

Putting on compression hose and taking off compression socks correctly is important to ensure their effectiveness. To put them on, follow these steps:

  1. Pull the sock over your foot.
  2. Roll the sock up your leg, using talcum powder if needed to reduce friction.
  3. Make sure to pull the sock up all the way for even compression.

Remember, the socks shouldn’t be too tight or painful.

To remove the socks, start by pulling the top band down and stroking downward with flat hands as the sock doubles over. Following these steps will help you get the most out of your compression socks.

Cleaning and Maintenance

A woman wearing ankle socks on her bed

To maintain the effectiveness and durability of your compression socks, it’s crucial to clean them properly. Here’s how:

  1. Machine wash them on a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild soap.
  2. Keep them separate or with clothes of the same color.
  3. Hang them up to dry afterward.

Washing your compression socks daily or at least every couple of days is recommended, and don’t hesitate to replace them if they start sliding down or show any rips or tears.

When to Consult a Healthcare Professional

 Speak to your healthcare advisor and inquire about compression socks promoting improved blood flow
Consult your doctor if you need specific compression socks for a particular issue

Should you experience medical issues or concerns, seeking guidance from a healthcare professional on compression sock usage is advisable.

A healthcare professional can assist in determining the right type of compression sock for your condition and guide you in their proper use.

If you’re worried about the circulation in your legs or potential issues with your compression socks, don’t hesitate to reach out to your primary care provider or a vascular specialist.

Identifying Potential Issues

There are several potential issues that may require medical attention when using compression socks. These include:

  • Swelling in the legs that won’t go away with compression stockings or pressure stockings
  • Feeling uncomfortable or tight when wearing them
  • Skin irritation, redness, or itching from having them on wrong
  • Feeling bruised or uncomfortable if they’re too low
  • Pins and needles, numbness, discoloration, or more pain in your feet or legs

If you experience any of these issues, it is recommended to seek medical advice.

If you notice any of these signs, consult a healthcare professional to address the issue and ensure you’re using your compression socks correctly.

Obtaining a Prescription

Your doctor will measure your legs if you have a need for compression stockings or compression hose due to medical reasons. He/She will then prescribe the right ones for you.

Compression sock prescriptions usually need to be updated every year.

You can also purchase compression socks online without a prescription from your local pharmacy, medical supply store, various retailers and online stores.

However, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for guidance on the appropriate compression level and fit for your specific needs.


In conclusion, compression socks are a versatile and effective solution for various health conditions and everyday discomfort.

They can help boost blood flow, reduce swelling, and prevent serious complications such as deep vein thrombosis, or blood circulation issues like blood clot.

With the right compression level, fit, and material, you can experience the numerous benefits that compression stockings have to offer.

Ready to experience the benefits of your own custom compression stockings?

Reach out to one of our expert Socktologists and we'll help you get started!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are compression socks good for you?

Compression socks are highly beneficial if you spend a lot of time standing during the day or have a job that necessitates prolonged periods of standing.

By wearing them throughout the day and removing them at night, you can significantly reduce swelling, pain, and fatigue in your legs.

Is there a downside to wearing compression socks?

Wearing compression stockings or compression socks can cause some mild discomfort and skin irritation, or even reduce blood flow in your legs if they are ill-fitting.

It is important to try different lengths and fabrics to find the one that's most comfortable for you.

How many hours a day should you wear compression socks?

It's recommended to wear compression socks for a maximum of 8 hours a day, taking them off at night to allow your skin to breathe.

Can I wear compression stockings or socks all day?

Yes, you can wear compression stockings compression socks all day as they are designed to provide continuous support and relief.

To stay updated on all the latest sock styles and to learn more about what custom compression socks can do, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn.

Article Written By
Samuel Moses

We offer custom socks of all types and sizes (baby to adult) and lengths (no-show, ankle, crew, knee-high, and over the knee). We pride ourselves on being authentic Italian custom sock manufacturers with the highest level of quality and service for our customers. Try us out today!

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