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The Insider Pick:
High-quality compression socks provide firm pressure from the ankle to the upper calf, giving your legs the support they need during exercise, travel, long workdays, and many other situations.
The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provide firm pressure without sagging through the course of the day, making them comfortable and effective.
Though they are often worn upon a doctor’s advice, compression socks are available to anyone. Many people choose compression socks because they provide comfort during pregnancy, long days on your feet, a punishing workout, or travel. There is no downside to wearing them as long as you are comfortable.
Compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. In other words, they improve circulation. There are also gains in the flow of the lymph fluids that bathe your legs’ cells. These improvements lead to less leg fatigue, achiness, and swelling.
The compression in the stockings is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Specifically, the socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mm Hg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mm Hg. None of the socks we reviewed are rated above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if you need them. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.
Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks, but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.
There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out. Some tips we found helpful were to apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on, wearing dishwashing gloves to get a better grip, and rolling the socks before you put them on so you can simply roll them up your legs.
While researching the best compression socks, we combed through hundreds of buyer and expert reviews and ratings of dozens of models. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are attractive enough to wear in a variety of situations.
Here are our picks for the best compression socks you can buy:
Best overall: CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 — Men & Women
Best affordable socks: SB SOX Lite Compression Socks
Best for circulation problems: Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks — Men & Women
Best for after workouts: Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks
Best for spending the day on your feet: Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks — Men & Women
Best compression socks for travel: Stance Compression Socks
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.The best compression socks overall
Why you’ll love them: Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provide all-day comfort.
There are two main ways that the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 stand out from the other socks on our list. First, they offer unparalleled comfort. Secondly, they cost at least $15 more than any other pair on our list.
Made of polyamide/nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), the CEP socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t poop out on you as the day goes on.
The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks feature a halo top-band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place, and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. And, per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that you can wear the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens.
Most of the expert reviews of the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 come from running websites. Coach Levi looked at the socks from a runner’s perspective and found they did not significantly improve his performance and were less durable compared to non-compression socks. However, due to the comfort they afforded, he recommended them to people who suffer from shin splints, Achilles problems, or plantar fasciitis. The reviewer at Believe in the Run called them the most comfortable socks she’s ever run in. And, The Trial of Miles also recommended this pair.
About 83% of the Amazon buyers who reviewed the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 gave them five stars. Canyonhiker is the most helpful reviewer. He wore his compression socks to help him deal with edema while hiking in the Sierra Mountains. He tested the CEP and 2XU socks and preferred this CEP model because the socks were thinner and cooler while still providing compression.
Other buyers noted that this is the most comfortable pair of compression socks they’ve ever owned. However, they warn that you really need to measure and make sure you buy the right size.
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, doesn’t sag over the course of the day
Cons: Expensive, really need to make sure you buy the right size
The best affordable compression socks
Why you’ll love them: The SB SOX Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide comfort for many wears.
Though the SB SOX Lite Compression Socks are about a fifth of the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.
The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors, including Black/Gray, Black/Blue, Black/Pink, and Gray/Black. And, there are two sizes: S/M and L/XL.
The Wirecutter recommended the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks as a good starter pair. Though they were thinner and lighter than her top picks, the reviewer liked that the SB Sox socks held up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they felt snug. They lost points because there were limited size and color options, and they were a bit long. Wise Bread, Best Seekers, and Very Well Fit also recommend these socks.
More than 1,500 buyers have left positive reviews of the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks on Amazon. Danielle is a heart attack survivor and works for the police department. She suffered from a lot of leg pain and has nothing but positive things to say about the SB Sox. They relieve her pain, and she now has seven pairs, one for each day of the week.
Other buyers compare these socks to the prescription compression stockings they’ve used, and they note that the SB Sox feel better and cost much less than the prescription option.
Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit
Cons: Only comes in two sizes
The best compression socks for relieving circulation problems
Why you’ll love them: If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.
The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.
These are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. There are four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.
The reviewer at The Wirecutter chose the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks as the top pick because they look nice, are lightweight but not too thin, and they bunched up less below the knee. However, she was turned off by the gender binary presented by having different designs for different genders. Also, the top of the socks started to warp after several washings and wears, but the tightness was not affected by this. Garage Gym Builder also recommended the Sockwell socks because they stayed snug all day long.
Approximately 88% of the people who reviewed the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks on Amazon gave them four or five stars. Reviewer David S. Hess has swelling in his ankles from congestive heart failure and peripheral neuropathy from diabetes, and the socks have helped him with his circulation issues. He says they maintain their function and shape and are comfortable day and night.
Another buyer tried a variety of different brands and found the Sockwell Elevation socks worked better than the cheaper alternatives because they provided the right amount of pressure in the right spots.
Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long
Cons: Reports of the top of the socks warping over time, only comes in two sizes
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