Guide to Choosing and Using Runners Compression Socks

Do you experience leg pain or swelling after a long run? Are you looking for ways to improve your running performance and speed up recovery? Look no further than runners compression socks.

What are Compression Socks

Compression socks are unique socks that apply gentle pressure to your legs and ankles and help improve blood flow from your legs to your heart.  Runners compression socks are elasticated socks worn up to your knees.

Why Wear Compression Socks

Runners wear compression socks for different reasons

  • help reduce lactic acid
  • helps eliminate cramps
  • improves blood and oxygen flow in the legs
  • helps reduce injury

Benefits Of Compression Socks runners compression socks

The benefits of compression socks are

  • Increase blood flow – compression socks help circulate blood more efficiently around your leg and help it get back to the heart faster.  The faster the blood flows, the more oxygen gets to the blood cells.
  • quicker recovery – the legs recover a lot quicker following a run  
  • compression socks help stop legs from swelling due to greater blood flow
  • lessen cramps – we should have fewer cramps in our legs when we wear compression socks, as increased circulation in our legs will mean our muscles are receiving the required minerals and nutrients
  • reduced injury risk – compression socks stabilize joints and muscles, which helps prevent injury
  • decrease lactic acid – lactic acid in our muscles decreases as circulation and blood flow in our legs increase.
  • It helps you run faster and more efficiently – they help us run faster and efficiently as our muscles won’t be as tired, and we will have less lactic acid and fewer cramps.

Drawbacks Of Compression Socks

The drawbacks of compression socks are

  • cut off circulation – correctly fitting compression socks provide continuous pressure that aids circulation, but if compression socks are too tight, they will have the opposite effect, which may cut off circulation in your legs.
  • Can cause bruising and chaffing of the skin – if you have dry skin and a dry climate, compression socks can lead to cuts and bruises on your legs as the skin is too dry and breaks.
  • It can cause itchiness, redness, and skin irritation – when compression socks are not fitting correctly, they can cause redness, itchiness, and temporary dents in the skin at the top of the socks.

Factors When Deciding On Compression Socks

There are a few factors that we should take into account when deciding what type of compression socks.

Compression level

Compression level is the amount of pressure the socks apply on your legs. It is typically measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The compression level you choose will depend on your specific needs and the purpose of the socks as explained below. 


The fit of the compression socks is also important. The socks should fit snugly but not too tight, which can cause discomfort and even restrict blood flow. Make sure to measure your leg and consult the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer to ensure you get the right size.


Compression socks are made from various materials, including nylon, spandex, and cotton. Consider the material’s breathability, moisture-wicking abilities, and durability. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to opt for socks made from natural fibers like cotton.


As mentioned earlier, choosing the right size of compression socks is important. Sizes vary among manufacturers, so measure your legs and check the sizing chart before purchasing. Wearing too small or too big socks can be ineffective and cause discomfort.


Consider the purpose of the compression socks. If you’re using them for athletic purposes, you may want to choose moisture-wicking socks with additional padding or support in certain areas. If you’re using them for medical purposes, your doctor may recommend a specific type of sock and compression level.

Different Types Of Compression Socks

There are many types of compression socks:

Ankle socks

These socks are designed to cover the foot and the ankle area. They are ideal for people with mild swelling or foot or ankle discomfort. Ankle socks are also a good option for athletes who need extra support during workouts.

Knee-high socks

These socks cover the foot, ankle, and knee area. They are commonly used for medical purposes, such as to prevent blood clots or to treat varicose veins. Knee-high socks are also popular for athletes who want extra support and protection for their legs.

Full-length socks

These socks cover the entire leg, from the foot to the thigh. They are often recommended for people with severe swelling or circulation problems in their legs. Full-length compression socks can also be used for post-surgical recovery or to prevent blood clots.

Graduated compression levels

Compression socks are available in different compression levels, which indicate the amount of pressure applied to the legs. The most common compression levels are mild (8-15 mmHg), moderate (15-20 mmHg), and firm (20-30 mmHg). I have explained these in more detail below.

Moisture-wicking materials

Many compression socks are made with moisture-wicking materials that help to keep the feet dry and comfortable. These materials are designed to wick away moisture and sweat from the skin, which can help to prevent odor and skin irritation.

Levels Of Compression

There are five different types of compression socks

  • 8-15mmHG – light compression – gentle compression that anyone can wear,  and women in early pregnancy, for long-distance travel, and continuous sitting should wear these.
  • 15-20mmHG – moderate compression – this is a low-level compression sock.  Anybody suffering from mild swelling, sitting or standing for a long time, or tired legs from long-distance travel should try to wear this compression sock.  They come in knee-high, thigh-high, or pantyhose.  Running compression socks are generally in this category.
  • 20-30mmHG – medical grade 1 –  this is the most popular compression sock.  Even though these socks are medical-grade, they are available over the counter.  Pregnant mothers with varicose veins should wear this level of compression socks for people who suffer from moderate edema and swelling or deep vein thrombosis.  In addition, some athletes use this level of compression.
  • 30-40mmHG – medical grade 2 –  these are suitable for people with moderate to severe leg issues.  It needs to be a solid fabric to stop snagging and holes.  People who suffer from lymphedema, a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis will wear this grade of sock.
  • 40-50mmHG – medical grade 3 – it is the highest level of compression.  We would advise that this level of compression has to be recommended by a doctor.  This compression level treats wound management, lymphedema, and severe venous stasis.

Compression Sleeves

Compression sleeves are an elasticated band of material usually worn over the calves or arms.  Most runners wearing compression sleeves wear them on their calves to help reduce lactic acid, prevent injury, and eliminate cramps.  However, they can be a little more uncomfortable than socks as their bottom can feel tight around our ankles, and our legs swell a little when we run.

Compression Socks And Sleeves Recommendations

I have examined various compression socks, and the socks I recommend the most are the CEP compression tall socks.  I find these socks very good as they aid my recovery after runs.  They are comfortable socks with extra foot padding, support, and heat and moisture management.  Compression socks have ankle and arch stabilization as well.  They are made from 85% polyamide and 15% spandex.

Please click here if you are interested in further looking at the CEP compression tall socks.

The compression sleeve that I would recommend the most is the CEP reflective compression sleeve.  This sleeve is comfortable and made from 80% polyamide and 20% spandex.  It helps optimum performance due to medi compression.  It helps to stabilize the calf and reduce exhaustion.  Because these sleeves are reflective, it increases your visibility on a dark evening or night.  These sleeves help the supply of nutrients to the muscles.

Please click here if you are interested in further looking at the CEP reflective compression sleeve.

Final Thoughts

I hope you better understand runners’ compression socks and compression socks.  First, I have discussed the advantage and disadvantages of compression socks.  Next, I explained what compression socks are and why we wear them.  Finally, I have explained the different levels of compression socks ranging from light to heavy compression, which doctors should only recommend.

I would appreciate your views on compression socks by commenting in the comment section underneath this article.


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