It’s a common problem when traveling: swollen ankles and legs from long periods of inactivity.
The most obvious solution is to get up and move around on a long flight — many doctors recommend walking through the aisles about every 30 minutes to get the blood pumping.
But another solution is to wear graduated compression socks on your next trip. Here’s a quick primer about the wellness benefits of these products.
What Are Compression Socks?
Compression socks are made to improve circulation in the legs. The styles feature a tighter weave in the toe and foot that squeezes the foot and lower leg, pushing blood back toward the heart. Gravity tends to cause blood and lymph fluids to gather in the feet, and compression socks help counteract that.
What Kinds Are Available?
Compression socks come in many shapes and sizes — ankle height, knee-high or full-coverage tights — and vary in pressure intensity, which is indicated by a rating system of millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Most over-the-counter styles have mild compression (under 15 mmHg) or moderate compression (15-20 mmHg). Socks with higher ratings are considered “medical grade” and can sometimes require a professional fitting.
Who Benefits From Wearing Them?
Mild and moderate graduated compression can help ease tired legs and reduce swelling for people who are traveling or have jobs that require standing or sitting for long periods. They’re also recommended for pregnant women and individuals with circulatory issues including DVT. More severe conditions such as varicose veins may call for medical grade-level socks.
Best Newcomer: Figs Compression Socks
The Figs brand is best known for its hip medical scrubs, but the brand also has introduced a collection of compression socks, including this sea turtle-print style that is moisture wicking and also benefits the WildAid nonprofit.
Best Full Coverage: Hue Compression Tights
If your schedule calls for heading to meetings straight from your flight, then you’ll want a pair of these light-compression tights from Hue. They’ll keep you feeling good and looking great.
Best Multi-tasker: Zensah Fresh Legs Compression Socks
Zensah’s knee-high compression socks were originally crafted for athletes: They’re made from a blend of Tencel fabrics, which are moisture-wicking and anti-odor. But the brand has introduced designs are attractive enough to want to wear them everywhere.
Best Firm Compression: Sockwell Chevron Socks
Most everyday sock wearers only need light or moderate compression (under 20 mmHg), but for those looking for a more heavy-duty option, try this fun chevron-print pair from Sockwell, which are classified as medical grade with more firm compression (20-30 mmHg).
Best Multi-Pack: Comfortiva Graduated Compression Socks
Frequent fliers will want to pick up this three-pack of light-compression socks from Comfortiva, featuring a brightly colored striped sock, a polka-dot look and a classic black style.
Best Variety: Vim & Vigr Compression Socks
Since 2013, Vim & Vigr has been focused on fashion as well as wellness. The brand’s selection of graduated mild-compression socks come in nearly 20 fun patterns that can take you anywhere.
Most Durable: Darn Tough Trail Legs Compression Sock
Darn Tough Vermont specializes in made-in-America socks that are engineered for rugged hikes and treks, so the company guarantees its products for life. If the socks don’t perform, you can return them through the brand’s website.
Best on a Budget: Celeste Stein Compression Socks
Celeste Stein’s selection of light-compression socks are budget-friendly, coming in at around half the price of other brands. And as a bonus, the styles are stamped with trendy, eye-catching patterns like this leopard print.
Best Low-Cuts: Dr. Motion 2-Pack Compression Socks
If you’re looking for less coverage than a knee-high, try these ankle socks from Dr. Motion that have light compression and are moisture wicking and anti-odor. They come in a two-pack that includes a classic black look and a polka-dot version.
All products featured have been independently selected and curated by our editorial team. If you buy something through the links included on our site, FN may earn a commission.
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