The 9 Best Compression Socks of 2021

Aid muscle recovery with footwear that improves circulation

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Best Compression Socks

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

In recent years, the popularity of compression socks has grown. Once primarily worn by people with poor blood circulation, they are now favored by everyone from athletes to expectant mothers. 

Applying pressure to your lower legs, compression socks help circulate blood flow from the feet to the heart while reducing the swelling that may be a result of traveling or sitting for too long. General physicians may also prescribe compression socks for those with poor blood flow, varicose veins, or lymphoedema. 

While exercising, compression socks can go beyond improving circulation. “They keep the clients focused on that part of their body which is always a good practice,” says Rachel Troesch, NASM-certified personal trainer and pilates instructor at Lifetime. She explains that people often ignore the feet, ankle, and lower leg in their workouts, but that the pressure that comes from compression socks helps clients to focus more on their lower extremities. 

Here are the best compression socks on the market.

Our Top Picks
These socks can be worn all day to help reduce fatigue and swelling in your lower legs.
These lightweight and durable socks feature a cushioned heel and toe support.
Padded at the ball and top of the foot, but not too bulky, so you can easily wear them with any athletic or work shoes.
Can help ease your arch and heel pain and stimulate healing blood flow to speed your recovery.
Runners love the no-slip cuff, which holds the sock in place, no matter how fast you’re running.
Have a reputation for being one of the lightest and most comfortable compression socks out there.
These socks offer a snug, custom fit, while also preventing blisters.
Ankle-high compression socks are usually easier to put on and more comfortable to wear than knee-length socks.
Not only stylish, but they also offer all the features you want in a quality compression sock.

Best Overall: Physix Gear Sport Physix Gear Compression Socks

Physix Gear Sport Physix Gear Compression Socks
Pros
  • Keeps feet dry and blister-free

  • Stay-put cuffs soothe and don't pinch

  • Toe area won't squeeze toe joints

Cons
  • Lacks extra tightening panels around foot arch

Physix Gear Compression Socks top this list because of their overall quality, performance, value, comfort and durability. Made of a comfortable, highly-breathable and durable fabric, these socks can be worn all day to help reduce fatigue and swelling in your lower legs. The fabric is also moisture-wicking, which helps keep your feet dry and blister-free.

With just the right amount of support and compression in the heel, foot, calves and toe areas, they can provide relief for shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and other lower leg ailments. Their stay-put cuffs keep these socks from falling down, without pinching or feeling too stiff. You can use these socks during exercise or put them on when you’re finished to boost your recovery. Wearers also love that the socks wash well without losing any compression. They’re available in two different sizes and several different color combinations, so you can choose the ones that are the right fit and style for you.

Material: Nylon, spandex | Length: Knee-high | Style: Running

Best Budget: SB SOX Compression Socks

SB SOX Compression Socks
Pros
  • Durable fabric

  • Cost-effective comfort and circulation

  • Reinforced heel

Cons
  • Tight toe area

Whether you need compression socks for exercise, work, or pain relief, the SB SOX Compression Socks provide you with ideal compression and support, all at a lower price than similar socks. These lightweight and durable socks feature a cushioned heel and toe support for additional comfort. The anti-odor, anti-static, moisture-wicking and breathable fabric stops the growth of bacteria and fungus, keeping your feet dry and healthy. They’re available in four different sizes so you can get the right fit and amount of support for you.

Material: Not listed | Length: Knee-high | Style: Running, cycling, for work

Best for Running: Vitalsox Compression Socks

Vitalsox Compression Socks
Pros
  • Four-way stretch compresses throughout entire sock

  • Made of quick-drying polypropylene

  • Available in several sizes

Cons
  • Not true to size

Vitalsox Compression Socks are extremely popular with runners, but they’re an excellent option for anyone who exercises regularly, is pregnant or dealing with foot or calf pain, or spends a lot of time on their feet. They’re lightly padded at the ball and top of the foot, but not too bulky, so you can easily wear them with any athletic or work shoes. The padding provides additional comfort and helps to avoid abrasion and foot stress from impact sports like running.

The socks’ unique Drystat material controls moisture while also reducing bacteria growth, to reduce your risk of blisters and smelly socks. The compression starts around the midfoot, providing arch support while keeping common injuries, such as plantar fasciitis and shin splints, at bay. These socks are available in several sizes and many different colors, so you can choose ones that suit your needs and preferences best.

Material: Silver DryStat, spandex, lycra, nylon | Length: Knee-high | Style: Running

Best for Plantar Fasciitis: Bitly Plantar Fasciitis Compression Socks

Bitly Plantar Fasciitis Compression Socks
Pros
  • Open toes to check blood circulation

  • Comfortable fit

  • True to size

Cons
  • No heel cushion

If you suffer from or have been prone to plantar fasciitis, you should definitely consider the Bitly Plantar Fasciitis compression socks. By offering targeted compression and support to your arch and ankle, these socks can help ease your arch and heel pain and stimulate healing blood flow to speed your recovery. The moisture-wicking, breathable fabric promotes temperature regulation, so your feet will stay cool and dry. These socks are available in several different sizes and colors, so you can get one customized for your needs and preferences.

Material: Nylon | Length: Ankle | Style: Workouts, lounging

Best for Shin Splints: Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks

Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks
Pros
  • Graduated compression pushes blood flow to heart

  • No seams and stitches in toes reduces irritation

  • True to size

Cons
  • Slightly expensive

  • Thin and stiff after washing

If you’ve been dealing with shin splints or calf cramping, these Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks may give you some relief, while also helping to improve your comfort and performance before and after workouts. These socks feature graduated compression to help improve blood circulation and oxygen flow, reduce leg fatigue, and support muscles. Made of a lightweight, moisture-wicking, and thermal-regulating fabric, these socks feel comfortable against your skin and the seamless technology reduces blisters, rubbing and irritation. They also feature an elastic band around the foot to help support your arches. Runners love the no-slip cuff, which holds the sock in place, no matter how fast you’re running.

Material: Polyamide, elastane | Length: Knee-high | Style: Running, cycling

Best for Men: 2XU Compression Performance Run Socks

2XU Compression Performance Run Socks
Pros
  • True to size

  • Zoned vented panels for maximum airflow

  • Padded base for increased comfort

Cons
  • Has to be handwashed

The 2XU Compression Performance Run Socks have a reputation for being one of the lightest and most comfortable compression socks out there. With zoned breathability panels and moisture-wicking fabric, they provide plenty of airflow and moisture-control, allowing your feet to stay dry, cool and comfortable all day. The graduated compression supports the calf, shin, ankle, Achilles, and foot, allowing for increased blood flow and maximum muscle contained. The seamless construction and the light padding help keep your feet more comfortable and blister-free. While you’ll pay a bit more for these socks compared to others, it’s worth the price for such a reliable, high-performance product.

Material: Nylon, invista sport lycra | Length: Knee-high | Style: Running

Best for Women: CEP Women’s Progressive+ Compression Run Socks

CEP Women's Progressive+ Compression Run Socks
Pros
  • True to size

  • Ribbed pattern on front of shin for air flow

  • Mold to feet

Cons
  • Thin, less durable material

The CEP Women’s Progressive+ Compression Run Socks feature compressive yarns that wrap around the leg more than 400 times, providing precise compression that promotes recovery and performance. The compression contains your calf muscles and increases circulation, which helps reduce muscle soreness, as well as prevent shin splints and other overuse injuries.

By molding to your feet without restricting your toes, these socks offer a snug, custom fit, while also preventing blisters. They also feature a halo top-band right below the knee, which keeps your socks in place, no matter how many miles you’re running. There’s a big selection of fun colors to choose from, including flash green, Hawaii blue/pink, black/pink, and gold metal.

Material: Polyamide, elastane | Length: Knee-high | Style: Running

Best Ankle: Comrad Ankle Compression Socks

Compression Sock
Pros
  • More comfortable than knee-high

  • Graduated compression

Cons
  • Slightly expensive

  • Has to be air-dried

Ankle-high compression socks are usually easier to put on and more comfortable to wear than knee-length. The Comrad Ankle Compression Sock also provides many of the same benefits, including reduced swelling and foot pain, along with increased arch support, improving comfort and performance throughout the day.

The socks come in classic colors like Charcoal and Navy and a limited edition pastel palette of Berry and Pear, among other spring-like colors. The sizes come in small to extra-large. 

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Material: Nylon, Spandex | Length: ankle-high | Style: Exercise, recovery, pregnancy, and everyday use.

Most Stylish: Comrad Knee-High Compression Socks

Compression Socks
Pros
  • Stylish

  • Graduated compression

Cons
  • Slightly expensive

  • Has to be air-dried


Compression socks are often seen as too medical-looking and unattractive, bringing back memories of your grandmother’s compression stockings. They are most definitely looking different today, beginning with the Comrad Ombré Compression Sock. Not only stylish, but they also offer all the features you want in a quality compression sock: increased circulation, pain relief, and reduced swelling and inflammation.

They come in five ombré colors, from Berry to Pear to Sky Blue. Get them in small to large-wide sizes.

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Material: Nylon, Spandex | Length: knee-high | Style: Exercise, recovery, pregnancy, and everyday use.

Final Verdict

The Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks (view at Amazon) are a solid choice if you’re looking for compression socks you can sport all day. Wearable year-round thanks to its moisture-wicking properties, the knee-high pair addresses a variety of lower leg ailments thanks to the compression in the heel, foot, calves, and toes. 

What to Look for in Compression Socks

Performance

The key to performance is finding a pair of compression socks that provides the right amount of support to help you achieve your goals. You may want a pair that helps reduce fatigue and prevents injury while you’re exercising, or you might want to use them for recovery, on long flights, or at times when you need extra support. 

“Compression socks help the veins in their effort to circulate blood back to the heart as well as provide a gentle squeeze which both feels good and does good on a physiologic level,” says  Ernest L. Isaacson, DPM, FACFAS. Know what you’re trying to achieve with compression socks before buying a specific pair.

Pressure Rating

The pressure rating refers to the amount of compression the sock provides to help circulate blood in your legs. Depending on how you intend to use your socks will correlate with what pressure rating you need. 

Isaacson recommends looking for one in the 7 to 15 or 15 to 21 millimeters of mercury level, as it will provide adequate pressure for anyone looking for moderate help with circulation. However, compression levels can reach up to 40 millimeters of mercury—a pressure recommended for those recovering from surgery or those suffering from chronic illness.

Fit

“A sock should feel tight but not to the extent that it is uncomfortable,” says Isaacson. Most socks include a size chart, but further guidance from a doctor may be necessary for those dealing with recovery or illness. 

Isaacson notes that contrary to popular wisdom, it’s nearly impossible to cut off circulation to the feet via compression stocking, since it would require a level of compression that exceeds one’s blood pressure. You may experience slight discomfort from the pressure, but the chances of further injuring yourself when wearing them are minimal.

Comfort

Find a pair of compression socks that are supportive with adequate pressure. Some feature padding in the feet, which may be important if you’re a runner. Additionally, consider the material—socks made from moisture-wicking fabric, for example, can prevent chafing and blisters. “Almost all commercially available socks today are made of synthetic materials that wick the moisture away from the skin as well as provide a comfortable level of stretch," Isaacson says.

FAQs

How do compression socks work?

Compression socks work by gently squeezing and massaging your feet and legs, which helps redirect your blood flow back to your heart. With light pressure on the legs, compression socks work to reduce and prevent swelling, pain, and the formation of blood clots.

Is it ok to wear compression socks every day?

For most people, it's safe to wear compression socks every day, as long as you’re wearing the correct size and not allowing them to bunch or fold. "But make sure you don’t leave the same pair of compression socks on for days at a time," says Melissa Prestipino, PT, DPT, clinical director of Therapeutics Unlimited.

 How long should you wear compression socks?

“Compression socks are safe to wear for an unlimited amount of hours, especially during periods of sitting and when blood flow isn’t actively circulating throughout the legs,” says Dr. Prestipino.

However, don’t wear them in bed or when going to sleep. “They’re best to be removed before bedtime to avoid skin irritation,” says Dr. Prestipino. “In addition, when you’re at rest, your legs are already in a neutral position to allow improved blood flow.” Speak to your health care professional if you’re not sure when or for how long you should be wearing compression socks.

You should also replace your compression socks after three to six months of regular wear since the elastic fibers eventually break down and start to lose their effectiveness.

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6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Brophy-Williams N, Driller MW, Kitic CM, Fell JW, Halson SL. Effect of compression socks worn between repeated maximal running bouts. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2017 May;12(5):621-627. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0162

  3. Thompson J. Diagnosis and management of plantar fasciitisJAOA. Published online December 2014:900. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2014.177

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  5. Mann S, Ultsch D, Dietl M, Jansen P. The effects of compression socks on arterial blood flow and arterial reserves in amateur sportsmen. J Sports Sci. 2016;1(9).

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