Women and Men Swear By These Compression Socks for Swelling, Pain Relief, and Recovery
Updated: Mar 11
When you think of compression socks, you may picture your grandmother’s dowdy stockings—but today’s styles couldn’t be any more different. They’re not only functional, but in many cases, fashionable too.
Who should wear compression socks and why?
Compression socks for women and men in all walks of life— from runners and other endurance athletes looking to improve performance and recovery, to those who are expecting, to varicose vein sufferers, to frequent fliers, to working warriors: moms, doctors, stylists, teachers, and servers; or any combination of the above. “They can be worn for a variety of reasons, but most prescribed compression stockings are for people who suffer from vascular issues that are non-performance related, like varicose veins, venous insufficiency, and lymphedema," Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Shape. For athletes, compression stockings can also aid in recovery by improving blood flow and preventing swelling in the legs, he adds.
But he notes that compression socks should not be used to ignore pain or injury. “If you have been diagnosed with a stress fracture, while compression socks are unlikely to do further damage in themselves, continuing to run through increasing pain is ill-advised and you may advance your fracture and increase the time to pain-free running,” he adds.
So, how do compression socks work?
The stretchy, snug fabric used in compression socks tightly hugs your feet and legs to decrease swelling and improve blood circulation, among other benefits. Keep in mind that not all compression socks are created equal, though. They’re available in varying lengths, styles, and degrees of pressure—measured in mmHg—that you can choose from based on your needs. Since there are so many different options out there, most of which are best suited for specific uses, we’ve done the research and compiled a list of compression socks for women that cover all categories—so whether you’re looking for mild compression, medical-grade options to help varicose veins, the best compression socks for travel, or pairs for athletic recovery, you’ll have no trouble finding what you need. (Like with any new addition to your health and wellness routine, remember to check with your doctor first!)