Women Swear By These Compression Socks for Swelling, Pain Relief, and Recovery
Who should wear compression socks, and why?
Compression socks offer benefits for women 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!)
Best for Swelling: Mojo Compression Socks
The Mojo Compression socks, available in sizes up to 4XL, offer medical-grade compression of 20 to 30 mmHg, but are still stretchy enough that you won’t break a sweat pulling them on. Ideal for reducing swelling in larger calves and ankles, reviewers appreciate the reinforced, cushioned foot and heel area and how Cool-Max fibers used in the socks wick moisture away from the skin. A stay-up band helps keep the socks in place all day long, but some customers note that the band tends to get tight, so you may want to order up a size for comfort.
Best for Travel: Neo G Travel & Flight Compression Socks
If you’ll be logging long hours in a plane, train, and/or automobile, Neo G Travel Compression Socks are the answer for lethargic legs and feet. The nylon knee-highs offer low compression of 15 -to 20 mmHg, so your feet will stay comfortable all day without feeling overly restricted. Available in sizes small through extra large, reviewers say the subtle (and not uncomfortably tight) compression level, soft and breathable material, and low price point make these a great option for travel. One customer said the socks were “heavenly on an overseas flight.”
Best Thigh-High Length: Jobst Thigh-High Open-Toe Compression Stockings
Need more support? Try the highly-rated Jobst Thigh-High Compression Socks, which come in a variety of sizes from small and petite to extra large. These socks offer moderate compression via air-covered spandex yarn, so you can enjoy comfort along with the benefits of compression. A silicone band at the thigh guards against that dreaded slippage, and the open-toe design will help you feel less restricted if you wear them all day. Devotees say these thigh-highs deliver relief from varicose veins and leg swelling, as promised.
Best for Mild Compression: Nordstrom Trouser Compression Socks
The best option for mild compression, these trouser socks from Nordstrom offer subtle pressure of 8 to 15 mmHg, but are, P.S., hella cute. The thigh-high, scalloped-top socks come in black and navy and are specially designed to stay in place, so you never have to worry about pulling them up under your pants. Sport them to work, on business travel, or even on date night, and no one will ever know you’re wearing compression socks—and the soft, comfortable material means you likely won’t notice, either.
Cutest Compression Socks: Charmking Compression Socks
Just because you need a little leg relief doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Charmking’s highly-rated knee-high compression socks are super lightweight and feature fun-patterned fashions like colorful hearts and polka dots. Still, the socks deliver on function, with a no-slip cuff, moisture-wicking fabric, and a reinforced toe and heel.
Best for Flying: Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks
Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks are a top choice for wearers looking for a travel sock that decreases swelling and improves blood flow through graduated compression—the socks offer the most pressure at the foot (25 to 30 mmHg), less up toward the ankle (15 to 20 mmHg), and the least amount at the knee (10 to 15 mmHg). A reinforced foot promises shock absorption that will come in handy as you traverse the airport, and ventilated fabric keeps legs cool and comfy so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.
Best with Zipper: Zip Sox Compression Socks
Since compression socks can be notoriously hard to get on, a compression sock with a zipper—like this pair from Zip Sox—is a pretty genius way to make putting them on feel like less of a struggle. Using a stretchy, nylon-spandex fabric blend with mild to moderate compression (that’s not overly tight), these socks feature a pinch-resistant zipper (amen to that!) down the side and an open-toe design. Users say Zip Sox are easy to put on and that the open toe area means no more dreaded toe-scrunch. Plus, it really doesn’t get more affordable than this pair.
Best for Varicose Veins: Lemon Hero Thigh-High Compression Socks
If you struggle with the pain brought on by varicose veins, you’ll need a higher level of compression from medical-grade socks, like this highly-rated pair from Lemon Hero. The super supportive thigh-high socks, which come in sizes medium through XXL, provide 20 to 30 mmHg of pressure, an open-toe design, and, blessedly, a non-slip design that won’t roll down. Customers say the stockings conform well to the leg and are very effective in helping to relieve varicose vein pain day and night.
Best for Short Legs: Jomi Compression Knee-High Stockings
For compression socks that fit shorter legs, the Jomi brand has got your back, er, legs. Medical-grade compression of 20 to 30 mmHg is delivered via a nylon and spandex fabric blend that’s knitted for more stretch and comfort. Available in sizes small, medium, and large, the brand includes a very specific sizing guide online, so you’ll have no trouble finding your right fit. Reviewers praise the durable quality of the Jomi compression socks, and many note that these are some of the only compression socks they’re able to find for short people or very petite woman. One reviewer called them "compression socks for short people!" and continued, "Was very happy to see JOMI has these on Amazon's site for short people. Purchased them for my mom whose physical therapist recommended the short length. She said most people buy the average length and just roll them down which doubles the compression and worsens their condition. Mom was happy with the price as she thought she would have to pay an arm and a leg."
Best for Pregnancy: SocksLane Compression Socks
SocksLane, the brand behind these highly-rated compression socks, pride themselves on delivering results and comfort—and that’s just what these socks do. They use a soft, combed cotton fabric and moderate, graduated compression technology of 15 to 20 mmHg to offer support without chafing. Available in three sizes, including an option specially designed for extra wide calves, these compressive yet non-binding socks are ideal for reducing swelling, pain, or fatigue during pregnancy. Choose from black, gray or nude to see why these socks for women with wide calves earned more than 1,100 perfect five-star reviews from customers. One customer said they’re “great for pregnancy” and continued, “I’m pregnant in my third trimester and cannot live without these compression socks.”
Best Open-Toe: Doc Miller Premium Calf Compression Sleeve
Compression socks can definitely feel restrictive—that is the point, after all. But they don’t have to be so tight to the point of being uncomfortable in order for them to be effective, which is why some women prefer to wear an open-toed style that allows for more wiggle room. Doc Miller’s compression sleeve is more like, well, a sleeve, than a sock. It offers medical-grade compression of 20 to 30 mmHg and a snug fit that won’t slide around or roll down. Made with durable, odor-resistant nylon and spandex fabric, this calf sleeve wins big with athletes, pregnant women, and frequent travelers. Sizes come in a wide range—from small to 3XL—and there are even tall sizes, too (many reviewers note that tall sizes are pretty hard to come by in compression socks). With nearly 2,400 positive reviews, these calf sleeves are a hit among customers, especially those who are in need of tall sizing. One shopper said, “I injured my calf muscle on a run. These Doc Miller compression sleeves are a saving grace. Perfect amount of compression to help with pain and aid in healing. I have been wearing one on my injured leg daily for two weeks. Without the sleeve I can definitely feel the difference.”
Best for Standing All Day: BLITZU Compression Socks
Designed for everyday use, the Blitzu sock are a top choice, whether you’re on your feet from dawn until dusk, training for a marathon, or recovering from an injury. With over 4,000 customer reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-star rating, champions of the socks say they love the non-clinical look, comfort, and well-distributed pressure points that result from a unique combination of kinesiology taping and 360-degree stretch compression fabric. BLITZU socks provide medical grade compression with 20 to 30 mmHg of pressure, but are still flexible enough that you can move around without feeling pinched. Plus, they come in eight colors, including bright shades like Flamingo and Orchid.
Best Copper Compression Socks: Miracle Copper
The super innovative Miracle Copper compression socks feature copper-infused fibers that energize your feet and legs and promote better circulation while reducing swelling. Using the brand’s signature CuTEC Copper technology to wick away sweat and reduce odor, the knee-high socks can also help minimize swelling from varicose veins. Fans of the socks say they appreciate the thin and discreet design and the fact that they’re machine washable, unlike some compression socks that require hand washing.
Best for Runners: Extreme Fit Sport
Reviewers praise these knee-high compression socks from Extreme Fit for their low cost, quality, and effectiveness. Available in two sizes, small/medium and large/extra-large, Extreme Fit’s 6-pack of multicolored, light-to-moderate breathable compression socks promise to re-energize feet and ward off icky foot moisture and odor. Along with the sweat-wicking and antimicrobial fabric, the pain-relieving and compression technology that’s used to enhance blood flow in the lower legs makes this pair the best choice for runners and other athletes.
Best Overall: Physix Gear Compression Socks
As one of the overall best-selling compression socks on Amazon, this customer-loved pair by Physix Gear boasts over 11,000 near-perfect reviews and a 4.7-star rating from customers. Praised by pregnant women, athletes, and people who stand on their feet all day, these sporty and cute compression socks offer moderate compression and shock absorption to minimize swelling and fatigue from poor blood flow. Available in two sizes—small/medium and large/extra large—wearers appreciate the quality and comfort that helps them combat swelling issues, and say the product doesn’t lose its compression in the wash.