Compression Socks vs. Stockings: Know Which One Is Right For You
June 30, 2023 | 3 Mins Read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Compression socks and stockings are available in various compression levels, and a 15-20 mmHg compression sock provides the same pressure as a 15-20 mmHg compression stocking. However, the difference between the two primarily lies in their style and construction.
Compression stockings are available in knee-length, thigh-high, or hosiery styles, catering to different needs and preferences. They can also be found with an open toe option, which allows for better ventilation and facilitates access to medical examinations or procedures. In contrast, compression socks are typically offered in ankle or knee-high lengths and feature a closed toe design.
The mechanism of graduated compression works by exerting pressure on the leg to help improve circulation. This is done by squeezing the veins and arteries in the lower extremities, forcing blood upwards towards the heart instead of pooling in the feet and ankles.
Compression socks have a bunch of awesome benefits for people with different lifestyles and health conditions.
The graduated compression helps reduce the swelling in feet and legs, relieving discomfort from leg fatigue and soreness.They work by gently squeezing the legs, which helps boost blood flow, reduce swelling, and ease discomfort. By improving circulation, these socks can reduce leg fatigue, aches, and cramps.
That makes them useful for people who spend long hours standing or sitting, athletes who want better performance and faster recovery, travelers who want to avoid swollen legs during long trips, and anyone dealing with varicose veins or wanting to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
Read this guide on how to wear compression socks the simplified way.
Compression socks are labeled with a pressure range, which indicates the level of pressure they provide. The higher number represents the pressure rating at the ankle, while the lower number indicates the pressure on the calf.
For example, a 15-20 mmHg rating indicates that the sock provides 15 mmHg of pressure at the ankle and 20 mmHg of pressure at the calf.
At Koprez, we offer a premium-grade compression sock that falls between over-the-counter and medical-grade compression at 20-30 mmHg.
We refer to this sock as “compression sweet spot” which is perfect for anyone looking for a moderate amount of support.
Our compression socks are designed with an advanced compression technology feature and anti-odor, anti-microbial, and wicking properties. They also feature a wide range of styles, designed to fit any body size or shape.
Compression socks are designed to improve circulation, reduce the risk of blood clots, and help relieve leg pain. They can be helpful for people with certain medical conditions such as:
Friendly reminder: you can get compression socks without a prescription. This means if your legs or feet are feeling a bit swollen or painful, compression socks might be a nice solution for you
Like compression socks, compression stockings work on the same principle. They are medically-prescribed for certain leg conditions and work by applying pressure to the veins and lymphatic system of the legs.
They extend further up the leg — usually reaching the mid-thigh or higher — providing enhanced support and coverage.
Usually made from elastic fibers and rubber, compression stockings work best with the right amount of compression. Otherwise, you'll find them ill-fitting, hard-to-wear and and uncomfortable.
So who can benefit from compression stockings?
Here are the medical conditions that are suitable for compression stockings:
Anti-embolism stockings, also called TED stockings, are typically used in medical settings to prevent blood clots in people who are immobile or at a high risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They have specific pressure gradients that help promote blood flow and prevent blood pooling in the legs.
On the other hand, compression socks are more commonly worn by individuals for general leg support and to alleviate symptoms like swelling, fatigue, and varicose veins. They come in different compression levels and can be worn for extended periods to improve circulation and reduce discomfort.
So, while both aim to improve leg circulation, anti-embolism stockings focus more on medical situations, while compression socks are popular for everyday leg support and comfort.
If you're looking at medium compression stockings with levels like 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, or even 50-60 mmHg, just keep in mind you will be needing a prescription for those. Compression stockings with light compression levels like 10-15 or 15-20 mmHg are available over-the-counter.
First off, they're not just for the elderly. People of all ages and lifestyles can benefit from them, including athletes, pregnant women, and professionals who spend long hours on their feet.
Second, they don't necessarily make you feel too hot. Many are made with breathable materials that allow for good airflow. And sure, they might be a bit challenging to put on at first due to their snug fit, but with a little practice, it becomes much easier.
Speaking of snug fit, they're meant to be tight - that's how they work to increase circulation. However, they shouldn't be uncomfortably tight, so if they are, you may need a different size.
Lastly, while they're super helpful in managing certain conditions and improving comfort, they're not a magic solution for all leg or circulatory problems. It's always important to consult with a healthcare professional for any persistent issues.
The level of compression required for a given condition may vary, depending on the severity. Generally speaking, graduated compression socks and stockings are designed to provide more pressure at the ankle and gradually reduce in pressure as they move up the leg. This helps promote blood flow by pushing deoxygenated blood from the extremities back towards the heart.
Ensure that the compression garment you choose is medical-grade and meets the necessary standards for effectiveness and quality. This ensures that you receive the appropriate level of compression for your needs.
Look for compression garments with anti-slip features like silicone bands or ribbed patterns. These help keep the socks or stockings in place and prevent them from sliding down during wear.
Opt for compression garments made from moisture-wicking materials. These fabrics help keep your skin dry by wicking away sweat, enhancing comfort, and preventing odors. Materials like nylon and spandex for compression socks are lightweight and provide the breathability needed for optimal leg support.
Level of Comfort
The level of comfort should also be considered when buying compression garments. Look for features like cushioned heels and toe seams that do not pinch or cause irritation. Also, make sure the fabric is soft enough to prevent skin chafing.
If your discomfort, swelling, or circulatory issues are concentrated in your lower legs or feet, knee-high compression socks are the right one for you. Knowing when to wear compression socks can help you maximize its benefits.
Both are effective; the choice depends on your specific needs. If you need compression for your entire leg, stockings will be more effective. For issues localized to the lower leg or for preventative measures during travel, socks may be sufficient.
Washing them by hand or on a gentle cycle in the washing machine and air drying them is usually the best way to maintain their elasticity and effectiveness.
Read this guide on how to care and wash for your compression socks.
Yes, we recommend wearing compression socks, in particular, to certain exercises like running, lifting or fast-walking. They can improve performance and reduce recovery time.
Typically, compression socks or stockings should be replaced every 3 to 6 months as they lose their elasticity over time. This can vary based on the brand and how often they are worn and washed.
Claire Evans worked as the content marketing manager at Koprez. Claire combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve consumers, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and anyone who relies on the Koprez brand for helpful information.
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