Compression Level: Compression socks can provide mild compression, moderate compression, firm compression, very firm or “strong” compression. This value is measured in mmHg, a unit of pressure. Mild to firm compression socks are commonly sold over the counter and usually range from 10 to 30 mmHg. They are ideal for work, travel, sports or mild varicose veins.
Very firm compression socks can reach pressures of up to 50 mmHg or more and are recommended for more serious conditions such as blood clots, medical recovery, or severe varicose veins. Compression socks are also available by prescription.
Some compression socks feature graduated compression, fitting tightest around the ankle and looser at the top. They are popular because they can be more comfortable and easier to find the right fit.
Comfort: Ideally, compression socks should feel like a gentle squeeze – you shouldn’t feel any pain, numbness or tingling, or they’re too tight. Consider whether the socks are made of breathable material, have a seamless toe, and whether they have other comfort features you expect from socks. Compression socks also come in a variety of lengths, from ankle to waist.
Style: Like regular socks, compression socks come in a variety of lengths, colors, and styles. If you wear them to work, for example, you may want to look businesslike. Some compression socks are transparent and lightweight, others are more opaque and durable.
Special uses: If you use compression socks for medical reasons, such as to prevent blood clots from forming after surgery, look for anti-embolism stockings instead of regular compression socks. Ask your doctor for help choosing the right type. Your specialist may also prescribe prescription compression socks that are specifically tailored to your measurements.
Price: If you’re used to buying cheap socks, compression socks may come with sticker shock, but you can still find more affordable options if you need to.