5 types of Compression Socks

male athlete running in compression socks on city street marathon

Compression socks are not your normal socks. While most normal socks only come in lengths that are no longer than knee length, compression socks come in many different forms that vary from your standard ankle high all the way up to full body suits. The focus of the article is on compression garments to aid in the circulatory function of your legs since they are the most common and the part of the body the farthest from the heart and the most likely to need the assistance compression can add. Here’s everything you need to know about the five types of compression socks. 

Thigh High

Thigh high compression socks are typically graduated compression socks meaning that they apply more pressure to the lower part of your feet and gradually apply less pressure as you go up the leg. Due to the length of this type of compression sock, graduated compression is used since a constant high amount of compression applied to your whole leg could cause complications. 

One nice thing about thigh high compression socks is that they are better suited for women during the winter months. They offer warmth and compression without having to worry about your pants closing at the waist due to the thicker fabric. Also, wearing compression around your waist can cause stomach discomfort as other gastrointestinal discomfort. 

Knee High

Knee high compression socks are the bread and butter of compression socks. Whenever someone talks about compression socks or your doctor recommends compression socks more often than not knee-high compression socks are the ones being discussed.

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Knee high compression socks are able to compress the whole calf which is a common trouble spot for venous circulation. The calf is where most cases of varicose veins and spider veins show up on those individuals that are affected. Knee high compression socks are also popular due to their versatility as they can be worn with pants or shorts with ease. 

Wide Calf Knee High

Wide calf knee high compression socks are a subset of the knee-high compression socks that accommodates a larger calf. Size is a very important factor to consider when purchasing a compression garment. As the compression socks are inherently tight it is often overlooked if they are ill fitting. This can cause the compression socks to compress more than the advertised compression. Looking at the size guide prior to purchase can determine if you will need to order the wide calf subset of sock. 

Ankle High

For those that live in hotter climates, those needing a workout sock, or those just looking for a sock to get them through the warmer months; ankle compression socks are the way to go. While ankle length compression socks do not offer the standard health benefits associated with standard length compression socks, they are a good alternative to having no compression at all. 

Ankle compression socks mainly give compression to the feet and some ankle compression socks specifically target the arches of the feet to reduce fatigue from standing for prolonged periods of time. If you are mainly looking for the benefits of reducing foot fatigue, ankle length compression socks will likely be a good fit for you. 

Compression tights

Compression tights are for those looking for a complete compression of the leg. Just like any other pair of tights, they are easily concealed under normal clothing and can be layered with other clothing to make a very warm outfit. By compressing the feet, calf, and thigh the compression tights are an all in one solution to venous insufficiencies throughout the legs. 

Compression tights come in all the standard colors that normal tights come in and also have a wide variety of compression levels to choose from. They tend to be tricky with sizing because like the knee-high socks, sizing is crucial and finding a pair that meets your measurement requirements correctly may take some time.