When you shop for compression socks, it’s very important to consider how much compression you actually need: You don't want to go all boa constrictor on your legs
The traditional compression knee high is available in four different levels of compression. You’ll find them measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which indicates the amount of pressure the stocking will apply to your leg.
The higher the measurement, the more pressure.
- Under 15 mmHg: This is considered mild or light compression, and is typically recommended for healthy people who are tired from standing or sitting all day.
- 15 to 20 mmHg: This is considered moderate compression socks, and can help prevent deep vein thrombosis or prevent leg swelling for those traveling by airplane but is also great for those who like a really good pair of running socks.
- 20 to 30 mmHg: This third tier is sometimes referred to as “medical-grade” compression, and can be used to help prevent and treat varicose veins, edema, and blood clots. This measurement is our most popular among nurses who are on their feet all day.
- 30+ mmHg: Compression stockings that measure 30 mmHg or above are often seen in post-surgical situations, and are typically graduated (insert your favorite cap and gown joke here!). Because they are tighter at the bottom and looser at the top, these socks won’t cut off circulation—they’ll help enhance it, as intended.
Just remember, compression socks should not be uncomfortable and certainly shouldn't be painful. If you find the ones you're wearing are either or both you need to look at the size of the level of compression. The best way to get the right size is to measure your calf and ankle and use the size chart.
Happy sock hunting!
The OTC crew