What Size Compression Socks Do I Need

What Size Compression Socks Do I Need

Do compression socks come in different sizes? Yes, they do. Just like a tailor fitting you for a suit, choosing the right size ensures that you get the most out of them.

So what should I choose? I think you should first understand some of the basics of compression such as type, size, and pressure level before making an informed choice.

What are Compression Stockings

Compression socks, also known as compression stockings, are socks that are specifically designed to apply gentle pressure to the leg. This graduated compression design ensures that the sock is tightest at the ankle and gradually relaxes as the leg moves upward. In this way, compression socks improve blood circulation and reduce leg pain and swelling.

In addition, compression stockings play a role in reducing the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and other circulatory problems. This is achieved through the pressure exerted by compression stockings, which promote relaxation of the arteries, allowing oxygen-rich blood to flow smoothly to the muscles. Compression stockings also help push blood back to the heart, thereby preventing blood buildup and thrombosis.

However, compression stockings do more than prevent blood clots and reduce swelling. Benefits of compression socks:

  • Help prevent and reduce leg pain and discomfort.
  • Reduce swelling in the legs, feet, and ankles.
  • Relieve muscle strains during exercise to help you recover faster.
  • Prevents blood clots when sitting or standing for long periods of time.
  • Reduces dizziness when standing.
  • Supports veins to prevent or treat spider veins and varicose veins.
Compression Socks

Types of Compression Socks

There are three types of compression stockings, so let's delve further into the different types of compression stockings. As well as their features and therapeutic purposes.

Graduated compression stockings

Graded compression stockings gradually decrease in pressure as they extend upward until they reach the rest of the leg. They are designed to treat circulatory problems such as chronic venous disease and edema by improving blood circulation. They apply maximum pressure at the ankle to push blood back to the heart and reduce the retention of blood in the veins, thus reducing discomfort and swelling in the legs.

Anti-Embolism Stockings

Anti-embolism socks are mainly used for bedridden patients. They are mainly used to prevent deep vein thrombosis and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis. They provide graduated compression, similar to graduated compression stockings, but the overall compression level may vary.

Non-Medical Support Stockings

Non-medical support stockings offer lower compression and are primarily used to relieve leg fatigue, swelling, and soreness. They are usually available without a prescription and are used after intense exercise, long flights, or prolonged standing.

Different types of compression stockings length and coverage:

  • Knee-high compression stockings: These stockings range from the ankle to the knee and come in a variety of material and thickness options for patients who need localized support and pressure control.
  • Thigh high compression stockings: These stockings cover the entire leg, provide full compression support, and are available in open and closed-toe styles, as well as a variety of colors and fabrics.
  • Pantyhose/Maternity: For conditions requiring full leg support, such as pregnant women, to provide full leg coverage and support, as well as a comfortable fit during physical changes.

Compression Stockings Size Chart

The first step in knowing what size socks you wear is to know that compression socks come in those sizes. Below you will find a pressure chart that will ensure that you choose the right compression socks for your size.

Here is a compression stockings size chart:





Calf Circumference



3.5 - 6.5

36 - 39

12" - 16"

Wide Calf S/M


3.5 - 6.5

36 - 39

17" - 21"


8.5 - 11.5


39 - 42

13" - 17"

Wide Calf M/L

8.5 - 11.5


39 - 42

17" - 21"



10.5 - 13.5

42 - 46

14" - 18"

Wide Calf L/XL


10.5 - 13.5

42 - 46

17" - 21"

For details on how to use it, you can refer to the steps below:

  • Know your size: Before using the size chart, you need to know your shoe size and calf circumference.
  • Find your size range: Find the size range that corresponds to your shoe size. Men's and women's size ranges are usually labeled S/M, M/L, or L/XL.
  • Check calf circumference: Once you have determined your size range, check the corresponding calf circumference measurement. This will ensure that the stocking provides the right amount of compression and is not too tight or too loose.
  • Consider special sizing: Some size charts also include wide calf sizing options. If you have thicker calves, you may need to choose a wide calf size for a comfortable fit.
Types of Compression Socks

Compression Stocking Levels

How can I tell the compression level of a compression stocking? The compression level is indicated by a numerical range such as "20-30 mmHg". This means that the compression will not be less than 20 mmHg and not more than 30 mmHg. mmHG is the unit of measurement of pressure.

Below you will find an overview of the different compression levels of compression socks.

15-20 mmHg Compression Socks

Provides moderate compression for all-day, everyday wear. It helps reduce ankle and leg swelling, relieves leg fatigue and pain, and aids in muscle recovery. Commonly used for travel, mild to moderate edema, pregnancy, spider and varicose veins.

Applications and Benefits

  • These socks offer moderate compression suitable for extended wear throughout the day.
  • They effectively reduce ankle and leg swelling by promoting better blood circulation.
  • The compression helps alleviate leg fatigue, discomfort, and pain, making them ideal for individuals who spend long hours on their feet or seated.
  • Additionally, they aid in muscle recovery after strenuous activities or workouts.
  • Commonly recommended for various conditions such as travel-related swelling, mild to moderate edema, and discomfort associated with pregnancy.
  • They are also beneficial for managing symptoms of spider and varicose veins, providing relief and support to the legs.

20-30 mmHg Compression Socks

20-30 mmHg Compression Socks provide moderate to firm compression and are considered a medical-grade compression level. Commonly used by healthcare professionals for moderate edema, lymphedema, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pre-and post-surgery, and moderate spider and varicose veins.

Applications and Benefits

  • These socks provide a moderate to firm level of compression, often prescribed as a medical-grade solution by healthcare professionals.
  • They effectively manage moderate edema, lymphedema, and swelling in the legs.
  • Commonly recommended for individuals with conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) as part of their treatment plan.
  • Pre and post-surgery, these socks aid in reducing swelling and promoting healthy blood circulation for faster recovery.
  • They offer substantial support for moderate spider and varicose veins, helping to alleviate symptoms and prevent further complications.

30-40 mmHg Compression Socks

Provides firm pressure and is also the prescription pressure level. Typically used in more severe cases of venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and lymphedema.

Applications and Benefits

  • These socks deliver firm pressure and are typically available by prescription.
  • Recommended for more severe cases of venous insufficiency, where there is a significant impairment in blood flow back to the heart.
  • Effective in managing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by improving blood circulation and reducing the risk of clot formation.
  • Also beneficial for individuals with lymphedema, a condition characterized by swelling due to lymphatic system dysfunction.
  • Provides comprehensive support for individuals dealing with chronic leg health issues, offering relief from discomfort and promoting better overall vascular health.

40-50 mmHg Compression Socks

This pressure level is very strong and is usually recommended for severe venous stasis, wound management, and lymphedema. Always consult a healthcare professional before using stockings at this pressure level.

Applications and Benefits

  • This pressure level is exceptionally strong and is reserved for severe venous stasis, wounds that require intensive management, and advanced cases of lymphedema.
  • Due to the high level of compression, these socks are typically recommended only under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
  • They are effective in reducing severe swelling and managing complications associated with chronic venous insufficiency.
  • Often used in the treatment of wounds to promote healing and prevent infection.
  • Essential for individuals with lymphedema to manage fluid buildup and reduce the risk of further complications.
Compression Sock

How do You Know What Size Compression Socks to Buy?

Improperly fitted compression stockings can be uncomfortable and ineffective. Are you wondering how to determine the correct size when purchasing compression stockings? You can refer to the steps below.

Measurement of legs

By accurately measuring your ankle circumference, calf circumference, and leg length, you can choose compression socks that fit comfortably.

Measuring the circumference of the ankle

Begin by measuring the circumference of the smallest part of the ankle, usually above the ankle bone. Use a soft tape measure and wrap it tightly around your ankle, but not too tightly. Make sure the tape measure is parallel to the ground for accurate measurements.

Measuring calf circumference

Measure the widest part of the calf. Place the tape measure around the calf muscle, making sure that the tape measure fits snugly around the calf muscle but doesn't feel constricting. Keep your leg relaxed while measuring and make sure the tape measure is level.

Length Measurement

Measure the length from the heel to the bottom of the knee. The right size ensures that the compression stocking provides proper coverage and support over the length of the leg.

Use a size chart to determine the right size

When purchasing compression stockings, choose the right size based on your leg circumference and compare it to the size chart. Ensure that the compression stockings are as effective as they can be. This is because they determine the size that provides optimal compression without being too tight or too loose.

Choose the right compression level

Different compression levels are available to meet specific needs. Higher compression levels are for medical conditions or post-surgical recovery, while lower compression levels are for everyday wear and light support. Please refer to the compression levels above to select the compression stocking you need.

Considerations for different activities

When choosing the right size compression sock, it is important to consider the specific activity you will be engaging in. Different activities require different levels of compression and fit to optimize athletic performance and comfort. Here are some considerations for different activities:

Running and Sports Activities

For running and other physical activities, compression socks offer benefits such as improved circulation, reduced muscle fatigue, and faster recovery times. When choosing a compression sock for running, the key is to choose one that fits snugly and provides enough compression without being too tight.

Traveling and long flights

Compression socks are highly recommended for long flights and travel to prevent swelling and discomfort, especially when sitting for long periods of time. When choosing compression socks for traveling, select a size that is comfortable and does not restrict blood circulation. Choose socks with moisture-wicking properties to keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout your trip.

Pregnancy and medical conditions

During pregnancy, compression stockings can help minimize swelling in the feet and legs, reduce discomfort, and improve circulation. When choosing compression stockings, it is important to select compression stockings with gentle compression that are comfortable to wear to support overall health during pregnancy.

If suffering from conditions such as varicose veins or lymphedema, consult with your healthcare provider to determine the right compression level and sock size for you.

Try them on and test the fit

After putting on the socks yourself, assess the comfort level of your legs. You should feel that the pressure should be evenly distributed and that no part feels too tight or restricted. You can walk, sit, or walk around to make sure the socks are in place and won't roll up or down.

Also, look to see if the sock provides enough support for your legs and feet. The socks should provide gentle compression to improve circulation and reduce swelling without causing any discomfort or binding. Look out for any signs of irritation, such as red marks or excessive pressure points.


Choosing the right compression socks for you is very important. To choose the size of your compression socks you need to accurately measure your calf and ankle circumference to get the best fit. Refer to the size chart provided by the manufacturer to find the size that matches your measurements. Better yet, you should be able to try them on yourself, whether the socks fit and are comfortable. Follow this guide to choose the right compression socks for you!

Back to blog