• 0

    Your Cart is Empty

    Compression Socks vs. Stockings

    Compression Socks vs. Stockings: Know Which One Is Right For You

    In this article, we'll discuss the differences between compression socks and stockings, how to find the right fit for your needs, and which type of compression garment may be best suited to your lifestyle. 

    June 30, 2023   |    3 Mins Read


    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.

    How Does Compression Therapy Work?

    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. 

    • Graduated Compression: The compression garment, whether socks or stockings, applies external pressure to the limbs. This compression helps squeeze the superficial veins, deeper veins, and muscles, narrowing their diameter. As a result, the blood vessels are more constricted, aiding in venous return and preventing blood from pooling.
    • Enhanced Blood Flow: By exerting pressure on the limbs, compression therapy facilitates the movement of blood from the lower extremities back towards the heart. This helps counteract the effects of gravity, as the compressed veins and muscles assist in propelling blood towards the central circulation.
    • Reduced Swelling: Compression therapy helps decrease edema or swelling by preventing fluid buildup in the tissues. The applied pressure assists in promoting the reabsorption of excess fluid and improving lymphatic drainage, thus reducing swelling in the affected area.
    • Improved Venous Valve Function: Compression garments support the function of venous valves, which are responsible for preventing the backward flow of blood. The pressure from the compression garment aids in keeping the valves properly aligned and functional, facilitating more efficient blood flow.
    • Muscle Support:Compression therapy provides support to the muscles in the lower limbs. This support can enhance muscle pump efficiency, helping muscles contract and relax effectively to assist in pushing blood upward against gravity.
    • Enhanced Oxygen and Nutrient Delivery: By improving blood circulation, compression therapy ensures a more efficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. This can contribute to tissue healing, reduce fatigue, and enhance overall limb health.
    • Lymphatic Drainage: The compression also aids in stimulating the lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing waste products and excess fluid from the tissues. By enhancing lymphatic flow, compression therapy helps reduce swelling and edema.
    • Management of Symptoms: Compression therapy is often used to manage various conditions such as varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, lymphedema, and venous ulcers. It helps alleviate symptoms such as pain, swelling, fatigue, and heaviness in the legs or affected areas.

    Everything About Compression Socks

    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. 

    Knee-High Compression Socks

    • They generally cover your foot and extend up to your knee.
    • These are typically easier to put on and take off compared to thigh-highs.
    • They're ideal for those who have swelling or pain primarily in the feet and lower legs.
    • These socks are often used by those who stand or sit for long periods, like in office jobs or during long flights.
    • They tend to be more comfortable, especially in warm weather, due to less coverage of the leg.

    Thigh-High Compression Socks

    • These cover your foot and extend all the way up to your mid-thigh.
    • They're a bit harder to put on and take off due to their length.
    • They're ideal for individuals who experience swelling or pain that extends into the upper leg or thigh.
    • These socks are often used post-surgery or for conditions affecting the whole leg, like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or lymphedema.
    • They offer more comprehensive support and compression but can be warmer due to their greater coverage.

    Compression Sock Levels

    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.

    8-15 mmHg
    • Perfect for those days when your legs feel mildly achy and tired
    • Provides comfort and support when you're on your feet or sitting down for extended periods
    • Ideal when you need a little bit of support to keep you energized and healthy
    15-20 mmHg
    • Offers an additional level of support to get you through days with achy, heavy, and slightly swollen legs
    • A great companion for busy, active days, or when you're traveling
    • Enhances circulation, especially in the legs
    • During pregnancy, can be a lifesaver to prevent the appearance of varicose and spider veins
    20-30 mmHg
    • One of the most commonly prescribed compression levels by healthcare professionals
    • Helps manage a range of minor to moderate medical conditions
    • Effective for chronically painful and heavily fatigued legs
    • An important aid in treating varicose veins
    • Provides relief from the swelling associated with mild edema
    • Often used post minor surgical procedures such as sclerotherapy and phlebectomy
    • Beneficial for treating orthostatic/postural hypotension, a type of low blood pressure
    30-40 mmHg
    • Provides relief from moderate to severe edema and lymphedema
    • Useful in preventing and alleviating severe cases of varicose veins
    • Treatment for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and post-thrombotic syndrome
    • Effective in healing active venous stasis ulcers
    • Often prescribed post bone fractures and orthopedic surgeries
    • An excellent treatment option for phlebitis
    • Proven helpful for treating skin changes with healed ulceration
    40-50 mmHg
    • A key part of the treatment plan for chronic venous insufficiency
    • Indicated for the most severe cases of DVT and post-thrombotic syndrome
    • Beneficial in treating severe skin changes with active ulceration
    • Often used in managing more complex conditions, such as severe lymphedema
    50-60 mmHg
    • These are usually custom-fitted and reserved for very severe cases of venous diseases
    • Used under a doctor's guidance to treat severe edema, lymphedema, or DVT
    • Can assist in the treatment of venous ulcers and wound management
    • Often used post-surgery to prevent blood clot formation and enhance circulation

    What Medical Conditions Can Compression Socks Help?

    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:

    • Mild Leg Swelling
    • Varicose Veins
    • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
    • Edema
    • Lymphedema
    • Venous Insufficiency
    • Diabetic Neuropathy
    • Venous Leg Ulcers
    • Spider Veins

    Expert tip:

    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

    Everything About Compression Stockings

    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?

    • Healthcare workers
    • Bank tellers
    • Store clerks
    • Teachers

    What Medical Conditions Are Suitable for Compression Stockings?

    Here are the medical conditions that are suitable for compression stockings:

    • Varicose Veins
    • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
    • Lymphedema
    • Edema
    • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
    • Post-Thrombotic Syndrome
    • Chronic Leg Swelling and Fatigue During Pregnancy.

    Anti-Embolism Stockings vs. Compression Socks

    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.

    Expert tip:

    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.

    Misconceptions About Compression Socks and Stockings

    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.

    Choosing the Right Compression Garment

    Graduated Compression

    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.

    Moisture-wicking Materials

    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.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Compression Socks vs. Stockings

    When should I choose compression socks over stockings?

    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.

    Are compression socks or stockings more effective?

    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.

    How do I know what level of compression I need?

    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.

    Can I exercise while wearing compression socks or stockings?

    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. 

    How often should I replace my compression socks or stockings?

    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.


    • Mia, E. (2022). The Compression Stocking Guide Book: What You Need To Know About Compression Socks Before You Buy


    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.

    Koprez® Featured Products

    • Bundles
    • Other Products

    Koprez® Related Stories & Highlights

    What Our Customers Think