What Size Compression Socks Do I Need?

Most people can use a little help from compression socks, but there are several things you are confused about — size, length, compression level, benefits. If you’re looking for this information, you’re at the right place so enjoy your reading.

1. Why Is It Called Compression Socks

Compression socks may look like any ordinary socks, but they are not just something you wear on your feet before putting on your shoes. These socks are tight and made with different fabrics, lengths, sizes, and pressure levels. Based on its name, compression socks, stockings, or sleeves provide pressure to the thighs, calves, ankles, and feet. The applied compression squeezes the muscle tissues, pressing the blood vessels or veins.
The only function of compression socks is to provide pressure at the lower extremities, which results in comfort and therapeutic effect.

2. How Do Compression Socks Work

As mentioned, compression socks apply pressure. The pressure causes a squeezing effect to the blood vessels, which either boost or improves blood circulation. Other than that, there are other benefits of compression socks:
  • Prevent blood pooling in the veins
  • Inhibit deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and leg ulcers
  • Reverse venous hypertension
  • Manage orthostatic hypotension
  • Improve lymphatic drainage
  • Reduce pain and swelling
  • Enhances leg muscle strength and stamina

3. What Kind of Compression Socks Do I need?

There are three types of compression socks, stockings, or sleeves with corresponding features according to a person’s needs. These are:
  • Non-medical compression hosiery
  • Graduated compression stockings
  • Anti-embolism hose

Non-medical compression hosiery has static pressure from feet up to their corresponding length. The compression level is usually between 8-15 and 15-20 mmHg, appropriate for daily use for any activity. These socks are ideal for:

  • Individuals with an active lifestyle include athletes, health buffs, sports enthusiasts.
  • People who stand and sit for long periods. Flight attendants, pilots, frequent flyers, factory workers, health professionals, etc.
  • Pregnant mothers
  • Middle-aged people

Graduated compression stockings, on the other hand. have graduated compression. The tightest start from the ankle and gradually loosens upwards. This is specifically designed to acquire a definite strength and length for medical needs. Graduated compression stockings usually require professional fitting.

Graduated compression socks are ideal for:
  • Ambulatory patients
  • Patients who are in treatment for edema and chronic venous disease
  • People who are suffering from lymphedema

Anti-embolism stockings also have graduated compression, but it has a different function from graduated compression stockings. This type of socks prevents the development of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or severe blood clotting and edema (fluid retention). One particular anti-embolism stockings are the TED (thromboembolic deterrent) hose. The highest pressure level is at the ankle with 18 mmHg and gradually decreases as it goes up the leg.

DVT is dangerous since blood clots can be carried through the bloodstream and cause a pulmonary embolism. This is why it is necessary to wear anti-embolism stockings if you are:
  • Non-ambulatory or bedridden due to surgery or operation.

4. How to Choose the Right Size Compression Socks

As there are pressure levels, you also have to consider the size of compression socks before buying a pair. Remember that your legs are of a different size from a person who may be shorter or taller than you, of the opposite gender, and with differing weights.
So, how do you know what size compression socks to buy? Here’s a guide so you would know the right size for a perfect fit:
1). Take a measuring tape. If you have none, get a string or a shoelace.
2). Get a pen and paper.
3). Measure (do both legs if you need to)
a. If you are using a measuring tape:
  • Measure the narrowest part of your ankle, then write it down.
  • Measure the widest part of your calf, then write your calf measurement
  • Do the same if you need thigh-high compression socks.
b. If you only have a string or shoelace, you also need scissors.
  • Wrap the string around the narrowest part of your ankle and cut it from there
  • Do the same for your calf and thigh.
  • Use a ruler to measure the strings and write the measurements down.
4). Take note of your shoe size.
5). If you’re at a physical store, check the size chart on the packaging of the compression socks. If you are ordering online, look for the size info on the website.
6). Choose the one closest to your ankle’s measurement if you’re between two sizes.
7). If you plan to buy tights, base the measurement on your ankles’ circumference and your height.
8). Choose your desired pressure level. If this is your first time wearing compression socks, choose the lightest pressure to avoid discomfort.
You also have to consider things before buying a pair of compression socks.
  • Make sure that you can wear compression socks.
  • Only wear them when you will be on your legs for long periods or doing strenuous activities, or sitting down for extended hours.
  • Don't sleep with those on
  • Don't buy a size too small or a size too big.

Finally, keep these things in mind because these are of great importance. Knowing what to buy and asking “what size compression socks should I get?” is necessary to avoid health risks. If you do not get the proper requirements, the result can be the opposite of what you expect.

So, get the correct measurement of your legs and ankle before buying. Read the packaging carefully for proper care and instructions, and enjoy your compression socks!

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