best compression socks for ankle swelling

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Best Compression Socks For Ankle Swelling

BEST COMPRESSION SOCKS FOR MENThe Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks are the best compression socks for men.Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks        CHECK PRICEThe 20-30 mmHg pressure keeps blood flowing and muscles warm and tight while you run.
BEST ANKLE COMPRESSION SOCKSThe Paplus Ankle Compression Sock is the best ankle compression sock.PAPLUS Ankle Compression Socks        CHECK PRICEThese ankle socks provide 15-20 mmHg compression to gently boost circulation and support the foot.
BEST BUDGET COMPRESSION SOCKSACTINPUT Compression Socks for Men and Women are the best budget compression socks.ACTINPUT Compression socks for Men & Women        CHECK PRICELight compression you can buy in bulk.

Written By Stacey L. NashPublished Aug. 10, 2021

Compression socks, also known as compression stockings or support stockings, gently squeeze and apply pressure to the legs. The pressure improves circulation while preventing and reducing swelling. These socks are a common part of post-injury or surgery recovery, but they’ve gained popularity among long-distance travelers and athletes for their recovery benefits, too. 

Whether you’re an athlete, recovering from an injury, or in an occupation that keeps you on your feet all day, pressure socks encourage blood flow and help you stay comfortable. However, compression socks come in different pressures, lengths, and sizes that make a difference in how well they’ll work for your particular issues. We’ve rounded up some of the best compression socks for swelling, athletics, and general use to get your feet back in working order. 

What to look for when shopping for compression socks

Let’s start with the most basic question—how do compression socks work? Compression socks apply gentle pressure to the tissues beneath the skin of the legs. That extra pressure prevents fluid leakage and promotes fluid absorption. That generally means less swelling, as well as swelling prevention. 

Weakening veins and valves get a boost from pressure socks by supporting vein and capillary walls. Even if your veins are perfectly healthy, blood can pool in the legs after long periods of sitting or time on your feet. Consequently, people who work while standing, those who are walking all day, and those who travel for several hours at a time find relief from swelling with the added pressure of compression socks. 

These socks come in different types and designs. For example, gradient or graduated compression socks apply higher pressure toward the toes, feet, and ankles, with less pressure through the calf. Ankle compression socks only apply pressure to the foot and ankle. Toeless designs make it easier to wear regular socks over for greater cushioning and comfort. 

Compression socks also come in different pressure levels, with socks available to the average consumer having a light to medium compression. Pressure is measured in millimeters of Mercury (mmHg). People with certain health issues may require a specific sock pressure level recommended by a doctor, while others can just choose a level that feels comfortable.

  • 15-20 mmHg (light compression): Daily wear, general sports, and travel.
  • 20-30 mmHg (medium compression): Daily wear (especially for varicose veins and swelling), mild symptoms of discomfort, sports recovery.
  • 30-40 mmHg (strong compression): Often recommended for blood clot prevention, medical recovery, or post-surgery.

Pressure socks should not cause pain or uncomfortably pinch the skin. A sock that causes numbness, tingling, or discoloration is too tight.

Can compression socks improve your running performance?

Here’s the deal: The jury is still out on the benefits of compression socks for running performance. Some studies have found a correlation between pressure socks and improved running performance and muscle fatigue, while others have found no difference

It comes down to what you need and want the compression socks to do. If you have swelling when you run, which is pretty normal, pressure socks can definitely reduce fluid buildup in your feet and legs. That may or may not benefit your running time and recovery. Runners who travel long distances to get to their events, such as marathons or triathlons,  may also reap the benefits of compression socks because they can reduce swelling due to prolonged periods of sitting or standing.

However, a fairly universal finding is that if the wearer believes the socks help, they report less fatigue, better circulation, and quicker recovery. For runners, the mental “race” can be just as difficult as the actual race. If the socks work for you and help with recovery, you may want to consider a purchase. 

Best compression socks for men: Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks

The Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks are the best compression socks for men.

Durable, Breathable Construction

The Physix socks come in three sizes, many colors, and provide comfortable compression with durable fabric and finishings. Physix Gear SportCHECK PRICE

The Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks provide 20-30 mmHg of pressure, which is adequate for running and other sports, as well as post-workout recovery. Their graduated pressure provides higher pressure through the feet and ankles and gradually decreases toward the top of the calf. These socks come in three sizes and include “stay put” cuffs to keep the sock in place. They also come in 12 color options.

How can they help alleviate ankle swelling?

Pregnancy, poor circulation, temperature fluctuations, and fatigue are only a few of the reasons your feet and ankles may swell. Capillaries, which are very small blood vessels, help carry blood to the arteries and veins and back again. Their thin walls are easily damaged, which can lead to fluid buildup and poor circulation. 

Pressure socks gently squeeze the legs, helping fluids to reabsorb and blood to flow more easily. These pressure socks also decrease the diameter of veins, increasing the velocity of blood flow and volume. In short, they keep the blood moving and fluid from pooling. If swelling plagues you during and after a long airplane, car ride, or a long shift on the job, these socks may help. 

Best compression socks for women: Hi Clasmix Graduated Medical Compression Socks

Hi Clasmix Graduated Medical Compression Socks are the best compression socks for women,

Great Compression, Fun Colors

These graduated compression socks offer 20-30 mmHg of pressure, two size options, and breathable fabric that keeps feet and calves comfortable. Hi ClasmixCHECK PRICE

The Hi Clasmix Graduated Medical Socks are the best compression socks for women and fit shoe sizes 6 to 15.5. They feature graduated compression that stays between 20-30 mmHg, enough for daily wear, athletics, or recovery. A copper-infused fabric helps prevent odors and wicks moisture for more comfortable wear.

What style sock are you looking for?

Something that goes to your knees or beyond is too much sock for the occasion. In other cases, you may only need compression and extra support in the arch, heel, or low ankle. Ankle socks may offer a solution to any of the aforementioned issues. 

These socks sometimes rise above the ankle bone, but many stay below this visible landmark. They have similar pressure levels as taller socks. Some of these designs feature targeted pressure through the arches or heels to relieve plantar fasciitis or support foot injuries. These socks also cover less surface area, making them a cooler option when temperatures rise.

Best ankle-compression socks: PAPLUS Ankle Compression Socks

The Paplus Ankle Compression Sock is the best ankle compression sock.

Light Compression, Cool Design

These ankle socks provide 15-20 mmHg compression that helps circulation and offers extra foot and ankle stability. PAPLUSCHECK PRICE

The PAPLUS Ankle Compression Socks feature light, 15-20 mmHg compression in a side-specific design. Each is labeled R or L, which helps the compression fit and target the foot’s arch better. This compression provides progressive pressure throughout the foot and ankle. They’re made of a moisture-wicking fabric that improves breathability for more comfortable wear.

How easy is it to take the compression sock on and off?

Compression socks aren’t always the easiest to get on. Easy-on socks include ankle and toeless designs. They function under the philosophy that it’s easier to pull on a sock when there’s less sock to pull. Although these designs have less material, they can still get the job done well. 

Ankle socks often feature targeted support with side-specific designs for the arches and ankles. Toeless designs provide more ways to access and adjust the socks when pulling them on and taking them off. Some have more of a toe than others, and these designs may be ankle, knee, or thigh-high. Toeless compression socks may specifically target plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament or Achilles injuries. 

A thin, toeless design can also make it easier to wear your own well-cushioned socks within the shoe. There are times, like when you have an injury, when you may even want to wear these socks while wearing flip flops or sandals.

Best toeless compression socks: SB SOX Plantar Fasciitis Compression Socks

The SB Sox Plantar Fasciitis Compression Socks are the best toeless compression socks.

Gentle Arch Support

These socks’ targeted compression and ribbing relieve plantar fasciitis pain while supporting the foot. SB SOXCHECK PRICE

SB SOX Plantar Fasciitis Compression Socks feature compression and ribbing designed to follow the arch of the foot. The ribbing through the arch mimics the natural movement of the foot’s ligaments to provide better support. A thin heel lets you fit it under your regular socks without changing the fit of your shoes. Moisture-wicking fabric keeps the SB SOX cool even under another pair of socks. They come in four sizes and nine colors.

Best Compression Socks for Nurses

Figs Best Shot Compression Socks

If you’re going to wear compression socks all day, wear ones themed to your job. These have light compression, 360-degree seamless compression, and toe and heel padding. The socks are made with sustainably-sourced yarn and have a nylon and lycra blend. And the pattern, with needles and bandaids, is great, but the message on the soles — “Hit me with your best shot” — is even greater. Says one reviewer, “These are the best socks I have ever tried. Feet are supported and they don’t hurt at the end of my shift.”


Absolute Support Unisex Cotton Compression Socks

These compression socks have 15-20 mmHg of graduated compression and are made with a cotton/lycra/spandex blend. They come in three different colors (black, white, and navy) and have a simple style that will go with any outfit.

One reviewer said, “As a nurse and on my feet all day I struggled to find support hose that didn’t bind at the knee. I have had some that caused more issues but these are great! The compression is spot on and no binding at the ankle or knee. My legs feel wonderful after a long shift! Highly recommend these!”


HYRIXDIRECT Compression Socks

These compression socks have 20-30 mmHg of graduated compression and 360-degree stretch for flexibility. They’re moisture-wicking, have arch and ankle support, and a reinforced heel and toe for durability and comfort. The socks come in packs of three, like most good things.

One reviewer said, “I have been working in a hospital for 9 years now. I am currently a Surgical Tech so I stand in the Operating Room all day next to the surgeons. Some cases can go on for hours at a time. My legs and feet used to hurt and I started getting little blood spots on my legs from the knee down. These socks stopped the pressure and pain and the spots eventually diminished. If you are standing or walking all day, do yourself a favor. Get a couple of the 3-packs and be sure that they come up to just below your knee. This is a must have item for people on their feet all day.”

$13.99 AT AMAZON

Best Compression Socks for Standing All Day

Bombas Women’s Compression Socks

In addition to making socks (and underwear and tees) for all sorts of activities, Bombas donates an item for every one purchased. These compression socks have 15-20 mmHg of compression, are made of extra durable yarn to keep up with all your daily activities, have a seamless toe, and have a honeycomb arch support system. The fabric is a cotton, polyester, nylon, and spandex blend. One reviewer said, “Amazing pair of compression socks. Definitely my favorite of all time.”


VIM & VIGR Cotton Graduated Compression Sock

These VIM & VIGR socks have 15-20 mmH of graduated compression to help support you for everyday use. They’re made with the brand’s signature fabric (a cotton blend that also includes nylon and spandex), which will make them as comfy like your regular socks, but help make your legs feel better.

One reviewer said, “These socks are great. I have worn the nylon ones and liked them, but I was looking for something cooler to wear. They are perfect. I also like the wider calf. They’re cute too!”

$36.00 AT AMAZON

BLITZU Compression Socks

These 20-30mmHg socks have graduated compression as well as a kinesiology taping design to provide targeted achilles tendon stabilization. The twill design allows for movement and also provides for shock and absorption, and there’s seamless toe construction so you won’t have to readjust your socks throughout the day.

One reviewer said, “I will go so far as to say that so far these are hands down the nicest, most comfortable and well-made socks I’ve bought. The kinesiology tape idea in the design of the sock really comes through nicely in the end product. These socks are very very comfortable, while maintaining perfect compression. After weeks now of use I can attest they do indeed do their job very well. This seems [to be] the only pair with truly graduated compression throughout. I’ve [had] many pairs that are just too tight up top choking off blood flow and digging into my upper calves that rely on only that tightness to get the job done, some that are just oddly uneven with many pieces stitched together, some that just aren’t true compression socks, and then the ones from the doctors office… Anyway, these are far and away the best looking and feeling as well as doing an awesome job. They are very well made, no odd stitching anywhere along the inside of the socks, very uniform sizing, with a perfect fit. No complaints at all, have ordered more already.”


Best Compression Socks for Swelling

CHARMKING Compression Socks

If you’re looking for a pair and some spares, this pack comes with three unisex socks that have 15-20 mmHg compression. They’re made with a breathable fabric as well as a silver fiber that provides moisture and odor control. You can choose from solid colors or a variety of prints and patterns.

One reviewer said, “I got these compression socks due to some serious swelling in my ankles, caused by pregnancy. After only about 3 or 4 days of wearing these consistently, they took care of the problem and my ankles are back down to normal size!!”

$13.99 AT AMAZON

Go2 Compression Socks

With 16-22 mmHg compression, the Go2 socks will give you mild compression to keep any leg swelling at bay, whether you’re on your feet or sitting all day. They come in fun patterns (hello, leopard print) because wearing compression socks doesn’t have to be boring.

One reviewer said, “My favorite compression socks! They are thick, warm, and provide the best compression of any compression sock I have ever tried. The price is higher than other socks, but I am telling you it is well worth it, as the other packages of socks are either too flimsy or do not help enough with blood flow. I am completely pain free from my varicose veins when I wear these and they last the full 16 hours that I am on my feet. Great for nurses!!”


Lily Trotters Compression Socks

Lily Trotters compression socks provide both fashion and function. They have 15-20 mmHg of compression, are moisture-wicking and antimicrobial, and made with a 93/7 nylon/spandex blend. The socks have a proprietary weave to make the socks thinner and easier to put on and take off.

One reviewer said, “Whether I am working out, sitting/standing at my office job or chasing after an active little person, I wear this brand almost daily. I like the hug they give my feet and legs. They are comfortable and made with quality materials.”


What to expect from budget socks

A single pair of socks that cost $15 or more can quickly get expensive. However, you can get comfortable compression for much less, but you do have to let go of a few things. First, budget compression socks usually have less pressure. They’re more likely to fall in the 15-20 mmHg range. The quality of the fabric may be lower compared to higher-priced socks. For example, you won’t find moisture-wicking fabric among the less expensive designs. The seams may come apart quicker, too. That said, you can buy several cheap pairs for the price of a single pair of pricier designs.

Best budget pressure socks: ACTINPUT Compression Socks for Men and Women

ACTINPUT Compression Socks for Men and Women are the best budget compression socks.

Light Compression in Bulk

Light compression in an affordable eight-pack of socks provides a great bang for your buck. ACTINPUTCHECK PRICE

The ACTINPUT Socks for Men and Women are made with  15-20 mmHG compression and come in packs of eight. These knee-high compression socks provide uniform pressure from toe to knee in two sizes. You get lots of options, from a pack of all black to nude, white, gray, and colorful patterned designs.


Q: What does 15-20 mmHg mean for compression socks?

The 15-20 mmHg means that the socks provide 15-20 millimeters of mercury in pressure. It’s a measure of the sock’s tightness. Socks range from 15-40 mmHg, with 15 being the lowest pressure offered. 

Q: Can compression socks lower your blood pressure?

Unfortunately, no, compression socks cannot lower or raise your blood pressure. They increase the velocity at which the blood moves in the lower limbs, but not enough to change your blood pressure measurements.

Q: What level of compression socks do I need?

The compression level needed varies by your activities, comfort level, and the socks’ purpose. To improve general circulation throughout daily activities, 15-20 mmHg socks usually do the trick. At 20-30 mmHg, athletes and those with medical issues like poor circulation or injury get more support. Socks at the 30-40 mmHg level are typically reserved for injury recovery. It’s important that no matter the pressure level, the socks are comfortable for you. They shouldn’t cut off circulation, cut into your skin, or cause skin discoloration. 

The final word on shopping for the best compression socks

Keeping your tootsies happy can help you stay on the move when your feet start to get tired. The best compression socks allow your blood to flow and reduce swelling without pinching or cutting off circulation. You may need a sock without toes or an ankle compression sock to support your arch. If you have a medical condition that requires a compression sock, talk to your doctor to determine the right pressure and sock style. These socks can express your personality with bright colors and patterns, or they may blend in with your natural skin tone. If you need a pair, there’s a design out there that will work for you.

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