Home Buying Guides The Best Compression Socks

The Best Compression Socks

The Best Compression Socks
Photo: Zensah

Compression socks apply pressure to your legs and ankles, which helps increase blood flow to your heart. The improved circulation can then reduce swelling and soreness in the lower limbs and feet.

The snug and stretchy socks have also been found to reduce muscle fatigue, lactic acid production and therefore recovery time from exercise. Runners with shin splints or plantar fasciitis may even find their aches and pains are eased.

Compression socks can also improve circulation and reduce swelling during and after plane travel, and when pregnant or simply spending all day on your feet.

To be most effective and comfortable, the knee-high socks need to fit flat and firmly from your ankle to upper calf, without bunching up at the top or near your toes.

We found Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks are the best compression socks, with a comfortable and firm fit to support a workout, a long day on your feet or when on a plane.

Compression Levels

Most compression socks are tightest around the ankle, with pressure gradually easing as the sock stretches up the leg. This is known as ‘graduated compression’ and prevents the sock from cutting off circulation to your foot.

The compression level is measured in ‘mmHg’ (millimetres of mercury). An mmHg rating is a good sign that you’re looking at compression socks rather than tight but standard socks.

The most common compression level ranges are:

  • 15-20 mmHg: moderate compression – useful for sport, flying, pregnancy, generally improving circulation
  • 20-30 mmHg: firm compression – preferred by some people; may be prescribed by a doctor to help with mild conditions
  • 30+ mmHg: should only be used when prescribed by a doctor

All the Best Gear

Top Gear: Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks

Best for Woolly Compression: Sockwell Circulator Compression Socks

Best for Firm Compression: Physix Gear Compression Socks

Best Budget Buy: SB Sox Lite Compression Socks

Best for Bright Colours: Actinput Compression Socks

Reviews and Recommendations

Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks black
Photo: Zensah

Top Gear: Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks

The best compression socks

The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks are the best all-round compression sock for most people, whether exercising, flying on a plane or putting in a long shift on their feet.

This graduated compression sock with 15-20 mmHG pressure works well for long distance running and post-workout recovery. It will also keep your toes warm while wicking moisture, and is durable enough to hold up to regular washing.

Tight elastic bands at the top of the sock, above the ankle and around the foot arch help keep the sock in place and increase pressure where snug support is needed most.

A cushioned sole improves comfort on long runs and a seamless toe helps avoid rubbing and blisters

Colour and Shape

The unisex Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in 4 sizes, which each fit certain men’s and women’s shoe sizes. An anatomical design means each sock is shaped to comfortably fit a left or right foot.

There are 13 colours, ranging from black, grey and white, to bright neons in yellow, pink and orange for running at night.

A logo high on the front of the sock, as well as a subtle L and R near the toe, are helpful guides when putting on your Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks.

More Guides to Best Buys
Sockwell Circulator Compression Socks violet
Photo: Sockwell

Best for Woolly Compression: Sockwell Circulator Compression Socks

Style and comfort in natural fibres

The Sockwell Circulator Compression Socks place a 15-20 mmHg of pressure in the right areas to improve blood flow and minimise swelling, but have a style and comfort you might expect from a standard sock.

This is partly due to the natural fibres of merino wool, though this graduated compression sock also offers a cushioned sole, arch support and seamless toe closure.

The durable blend of materials includes 32% merino wool and 31% bamboo rayon for breathability and moisture management. The stretchy nylon and spandex that makes up the rest of the mix makes the socks easy to put on, then ensures a snappy fit that stays in place.

Colour and Shape

The Sockwell Circulator Compression Socks (men’s socks; women’s socks) come in 4 sizes, with 3 that suit men’s shoe sizes and 2 that match women’s shoe sizes. The cuff might not reach up to the knees on taller people, but also shouldn’t bunch up on shorter legs.

The men’s socks come in 6 colours, and the women’s socks in 18 colours. All have a stylishly subtle stripe design and hide the Sockwell branding on top of the toe.

If you want a very similar sock with more pressure at 20-30 mmHg, try the Sockwell Elevation Compression Socks (men’s socks; women’s socks). But we found the Sockwell Circulator Compression Socks to be snug enough.

Physix Gear Compression Socks white pulling up
Photo: Physix Gear

Best for Firm Compression: Physix Gear Compression Socks

Increased pressure in comfortable fit

The Physix Gear Compression Socks are our favourite compression sock with 20-30 mmHG pressure, and can be useful for running, plane travel and dealing with leg swelling while pregnant.

A graduated compression sock with minimal seams, there is more pressure around the ankle than at the top of the sock so circulation won’t be cut off from your feet.

Made from 70% nylon and 30% spandex, this is a snug sock for increased circulation and reduced swelling. This stretchy material is easier to get on than most firm compression socks, and durable enough to be machine washed without losing its shape and pressure points.

Colour and Shape

The ultra-comfortable Physix Gear Compression Socks come in 3 sizes, each matching a men’s and women’s shoe size range.

These aren’t socks to catch the eye – they come in 10 options of black with a splash of colour or a design at the foot, a white pair, and a beige pair.

If you want a more colourful or stylish 20-30 mmHG compression sock, try the SB Sox Compression Socks.

SB Sox Lite Compression Socks black and light blue
Photo: SB Sox

Best Budget Buy: SB Sox Lite Compression Socks

Reliable support at a low cost

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are a thin second skin that improve your blood flow at a bargain price. But the 15-20 mmHg of pressure feels firm enough to minimise swelling and soreness in your ankles and calves.

The low price makes these graduated compression socks the ideal buy if you want to try wearing compression socks for the first time or only need them for occasional long flights.

A reinforced heel and cushioned toe provide extra padding, while the lightweight nylon and spandex materials have a stretchy and snug fit. The socks keep their shape and compression even after many wears and washes.

Colour and Shape

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks only come in S/M and L/XL sizes. Some reviewers have said the sizes run smaller than expected, so if you’re unsure which size is right for you, order the L/XL.

There are 11 colours and patterns to choose from, including several in black with a colourful logo, and some especially stripy socks that will appeal to some more than others.

There are also SB Sox Compression Socks with 20-30 mmHg pressure, if you want a tighter fit, though we found they didn’t feel much firmer than our preferred 15-20 mmHg SB Sox sock.

More Guides to Best Buys
Actinput Compression Socks multi colours and designs
Photo: Actinput

Best for Bright Colours: Actinput Compression Socks

Spritely style in a sock

The Actinput Compression Socks are a relatively cheap way to add firm comfort and colour to your day.

These compression socks have 15-20 mmHg of pressure to promote blood flow, as well as a reinforced heel and arch support to cushion your sole.

The socks are made from 85% nylon, 10% polyester and 5% elastane, making them breathable and durable.

Actinput also offers a tighter 20-30 mmHg compression sock.

Colour and Shape

The Actinput Compression Socks only come in S/M and L/XL sizes, but make up for the lack of sizing options by being available in many creative colours and pretty patterns.

You can even buy them in packs of 8 different spritely styles, like polka dots and love hearts, penguins and monkeys, avocadoes and stars, and puppies and fish.

First published: 17 February 2020