Are All Compression Socks the Same?
If you are looking to add comfort and support to your daily life, compression socks might be the right choice for you. For instance, if you notice swelling in your legs or varicose veins are starting to show up there, you may wonder if they might be a good choice.
Luckily, you can benefit from compression socks during surgery, pregnancy or simply being on your feet too long. However, in your search for some relief and support, one of the first things you might be asking yourself is: are all compression socks the same? They actually aren't – and the main difference between them is that there are two main types: medical and commercial.
In this article, we will discuss what compression socks are, the different types available on the market, and the benefits of wearing gradual compression socks at night. We’ll also cover some key differences between regular and compression socks and how to choose the right compression level for your needs.
What Are Compression Socks?
Compression socks are designed to provide graduated pressure that increases from the ankle up to help stimulate circulation throughout the leg. They usually range in compression strength from 15-50 mmHg, meaning the pressure does not fall below this lower threshold or rise above this top threshold.
Why are Compression Socks Good for You?
Wearing compression socks can help reduce leg swelling, improve blood flow and circulation, minimize the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and provide relief from tired, aching legs. Their compressive action gently coaxes the flow of blood up your leg, helping to do away with swelling and the danger of blood clots.
Difference Between Compression Socks And Regular Socks
The main difference between regular socks and compression socks is the level of pressure they provide. Regular socks are designed to fit snugly and provide some warmth, but compression socks are designed to compress the wearer’s feet and legs. Compression socks can be found at different pressure levels, depending on their intended use.
Types of Compression Socks
As mentioned, compression socks come in two main types: medical and commercial grade. Here is more about each one.
Medical Grade Compression Socks
These compression socks are prescribed by a doctor or healthcare provider and have higher levels of compression than the regular ones you can buy in stores. They are typically higher-grade compression socks and provide a minimum of 20-30 mmHg and up to 40-50 mmHg.
They provide more consistent pressure throughout the sock and can be used to treat discomfort and a variety of medical conditions like lymphedema, DPV, edema and more. They also tend to be made with high quality.
Medical-grade compression socks come in three classes, and it is important to follow the instructions given by your doctor when using this type of sock.
Commercial Grade Compression Socks
Commercial-grade compression socks are those that you can purchase over the counter in stores or online. They provide a lower level of everyday compression than medical-grade socks do, but they can still help reduce the discomforts associated with prolonged standing or sitting. They are also good for flying or other forms of travel since they can help reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) caused by long periods of immobility.
Additionally, you do not need a prescription to buy commercial-grade compression socks, making it easier to get them. Still, it doesn't hurt to consult with your healthcare provider before you buy them.
What Are the Benefits of Gradual Compression Socks?
Within the category of commercial compression socks are mild or gradual compression socks. These socks are designed to provide gentle, consistent compression from the ankle up toward the knee. This helps improve circulation throughout the leg and provides support for varicose veins, reducing swelling in feet and ankles and increasing comfort.
As they work, they help reduce fatigue, leg cramps and other discomforts associated with prolonged standing or sitting. TRUEENERGY®’s mildly graduated Knee High Compression Socks are an example of these types of socks. They feature 8-15 mmHG for a mild compression level that is gentle enough for everyday wear.
How to Choose the Right Compression Level
Choosing the right compression level is important when it comes to compression socks. Too low a pressure can be ineffective and may not provide any benefits, while too high a pressure can cause discomfort or even cause damage to your skin if not used with caution.
One of the main complaints that users have with compression socks is that they cut into their legs. This is typically caused when a leg is placed into a sock that is too small for the leg. To avoid that issue, you will need to consider the size and amount of compression.
Size and Pressure Guide
Vein specialist, Dr. Eugene Ichinose, says that "all compression socks aren't created equal." Therefore, it is important to find the right size and pressure for your needs.
Dr. Ichinose also goes on to explain that, “The quality of the material, the sizing, the durability and the amount of compression or pressure the garment provides all culminate into the final product. Some very economical support hose are not sized by careful measurement of your leg. They are labeled small, medium and large, however the amount of compression provided is not known.”
Dr. Ichinose also recommends measuring yourself before acquiring your compression socks, saying, "In the morning before swelling occurs, measure the circumference of your ankle (around your ankle), the circumference of your calf and the length of your calf (from the knee to the heel sitting with your legs at a 90-degree angle)."
We've listed some general guidelines for compression and a sock size guide you can use here.
Mild compression - 15-20mm Hg
Prevention and relief of minor to moderate varicose veins, relief of tired aching legs, relief of minor swelling of feet and legs.
Moderate compression – 20-30mm Hg (Medical Grade Class 1)
This is the most used medical-grade compression sock, and they are used for varicose veins and certain surgeries. They are often used for traveling and sports and by pregnant mothers with heaviness, pain and swelling in their legs.
Firm compression – 30-40mm Hg (Medical Grade Class 2)
This type of medical compression sock is used for moderate to severe venous deficiencies, e.g. blood clots, DVT and lymphedema, a condition in which there is swelling due to a build-up of lymphatic fluid.
High-level compression - 40-50mm Hg (Medical Grade Class 3)
This is an even higher level of compression used for severe venous insufficiency, lymphedema and other more serious medical conditions.
Who Should Avoid Wearing Compression Socks?
Although they provide many benefits, wearing compression socks isn't right for everyone. People with peripheral vascular disease affecting their lower extremities or any type of skin condition should avoid wearing compression garments as it can worsen the condition. Additionally, people with neuropathy from diabetes should not wear compression socks since they can aggravate the condition.
Can Gradual Compression Socks be Worn at Night?
Gradual compression socks are tolerated well at night. Gradual compression socks can help improve blood flow from the legs to the heart by providing a mild amount of pressure that aids circulation – even when asleep. This can reduce swelling and fatigue, as well as provide more comfortable sleep, so you wake feeling refreshed and energized.
True Energy Infrared Performance Compression for Optimal Support and Relief
True Energy Gradual Compression Socks combine infrared energy with graduated compression to provide optimal support and relief. The infrared energy helps reduce inflammation in the affected area, while the graduated compression increases circulation and decreases swelling.
Here's how it works: when combined with your body’s natural heat, it forms infrared energy which improves circulation, speeds up healing and tissue regeneration, and temporary pain relief – delivering optimum performance for those who live life to the fullest.
So, if you use your feet to chase fitness goals, this is the perfect solution for your active life. If you need help selecting the right size, or have any questions regarding the product, feel free to reach out to our customer service team via phone or email. We'd love to help you find the right fit!