- High-quality compression socks provide firm pressure from the ankle to the upper calf, giving your legs the support they need during exercise, travel, long workdays, and many other situations.
- Compression socks squeeze the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help improve circulation and the flow of the lymph fluids that bathe your legs' cells, resulting in less leg fatigue, achiness, and swelling.
- Our top pick, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0, provides firm pressure throughout the sock without sagging, making them comfortable and effective all day long.
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Though they're often worn via doctor's orders, compression socks are available to anyone. Many people choose compression socks because they provide comfort during pregnancy, long days on your feet, a punishing workout, or travel. There's no downside to wearing them as long as you're comfortable.
Compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. In other words, they improve circulation. There are also gains in the flow of the lymph fluids that bathe your legs' cells. These improvements lead to less leg fatigue, achiness, and swelling.
While researching the best compression socks, we tested dozen of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.
Here are the best compression socks:
- Best compression socks overall: CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0
- Best budget compression socks: SB Sox Lite Compression Socks
- Best compression sock for circulation support: Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks
- Best compression sock for post-workout: Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks
- Best compression sock for runners: Swiftkick Aspire Twelve
- Best compression sock for standing all day: Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks
- Best patterned compression socks: Vim & Vigr Graduated Compression Socks
Updated on 10/6/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the sections on how to shop for compression socks and how best to use compression socks, checked the availability of all recommended socks, and updated the prices and links where necessary.
The best compression socks overall
Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.
The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men's and women's sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list due in large part to the fact they offer unparalleled comfort — and should be considered by anyone, despite a steep price tag.
Made of polyamide/nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), the CEP socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won't sag on you as the day goes on.
The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin's surface. Per CEP's website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens.
These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They're also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout.
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, won't sag over the course of the day
Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering
The best budget compression socks
The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.
Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about a fifth of the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.
The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.
Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn't feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.
Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit
Cons: Only comes in two sizes
The best for circulation support
If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.
The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men's and women's sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.
These are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. There are four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women's style.
Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long
Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes
The best for post-workout
After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.
The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.
The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They're sweat-wicking, too, but don't tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink.
Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors
Cons: May not be tight enough for your needs, long drying time
The best for runners
Swiftwick's Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.
Swiftwick's compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort.
Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don't just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you'll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover.
Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture
Cons: Can be difficult to put on
The best for standing all-day
If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell's Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.
The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our pick for best circulation, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable, and each are made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool. But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).
The Circulator socks only come in two sizes, though there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren't very long, so they're best used for people with shorter builds.
Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive
Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people
The best patterned compression socks
Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you'll just love to be seen in.
First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don't do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that's not the case with these.
I'm particularly fond of Vim & Vigr's medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you're supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHG depending on the style.
Regardless of your selection, however, you'll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.
What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I'm a fan of the colorblock options, as well as Rugby Stripe pattern for men.
Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don't have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don't need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand's moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.
Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women
Cons: Can get expensive
How to shop for compression socks
Compression sock ratings
The compression in the stockings is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mm Hg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mm Hg.
None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.
Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.
How best to use compression socks
There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we've compiled a few tips here, as well:
- Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
- Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
- Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
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