Wearing Compression Socks in the Summer: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re wondering how to improve circulation this summer, wearing compression socks is an excellent way to boost your blood flow, fight swelling and more. However, many people associate compression socks with feeling hot and sweaty and are tempted to forgo compression therapy completely in the summer months. While this impulse is understandable, summer is one of the most important times of the year to wear compression socks.

Thankfully, there are several practical solutions that will make wearing compression socks in the summer more bearable (and even enjoyable!), from choosing the right fabrics to selecting shorter designs. Here are our five best tips for keeping cool while wearing compression socks in the summer:

runner putting on running shoes

  • Pick your material wisely.
  • Not all clothes are created equally, and the fabric (or fabric blend) is the number 1 factor that affects how cool, breathable and moisture-wicking a garment is. Cotton is very lightweight and soaks up moisture, but it doesn’t dry quickly, so it’s often blended with polyester or a similar fabric. Microfiber is a bit thinner than cotton, making it a better choice for dressy socks, and it’s also excellent at wicking away moisture. Sheer fabrics are the thinnest and have a barely-there appearance that’s perfect for summer outfits. Check the product label or description before buying compression socks to make sure the material will keep you cool all summer.

  • Choose a shorter sock.
  • The classic compression sock reaches almost to your knees. While this design is great for getting the benefits of compression in your calves, knee-high compression stockings can get rather hot and sweaty during the summer months. If you find it difficult to struggle into knee-high compression stockings in the summer, opt for shorter ankle or crew socks. Crew socks come about halfway up the calf, while ankle socks stop at the ankle, as the name suggests. For those who need a slightly higher sock for work, crew socks are a good choice, while ankle socks go well with tennis shoes and more casual outfits. These shorter socks ensure that you get compression benefits in your feet without constricting your calves.

    running through puddle

  • Opt for calf sleeves instead.
  • That being said, some people need compression therapy for their calves rather than their feet. In that case, ankle compression socks won’t help much, since they don’t cover the calves. Instead, consider getting some calf sleeves, tubes of compression fabric that cover the calf from just below the knee to right above the ankle. Because they let both your feet and knees breathe, compression calf sleeves deliver the benefits of compression to your lower body without making it overheat. Athletes, in particular, like wearing compression sleeves (and not just during the summer) for these reasons. Plus, you can wear whatever socks you like with calf sleeves or go barefoot if you’re opting for sandals.

  • Explore open-toe options
  • However, you might not want your feet to miss out on the benefits of compression since they have a tendency to swell a lot during the summer. If you still want compression in your feet, you can maintain a little breathability by opting for an open-toe design. Open-toe stockings cover most of the foot but leave the toes free, letting them get some air. Open-toe socks also look better with certain designs of shoes that are popular during the summer, including sandals. If you can’t go completely footless, open-toe compression stockings are a good compromise.

    bright socks in the grass

  • Keep the benefits in mind
  • Struggling into tight compression socks on a hot summer’s day isn’t exactly the most appealing idea. However, wearing compression socks during the summer can help fight common weather-related health problems, including lower body swelling and sluggish circulation. After all, it’s hard to motivate yourself to workout in hot weather, and the heat often leads to dehydration and fluid retention. If you find yourself on the fence about wearing compression socks in the summer, just remember all the good effects it will have on your health!

    Don’t give up on wearing compression socks just because it’s getting hot outside. Continue to benefit from compression therapy and stay cool and dry by following these five tips for wearing compression socks in the summer. If you’re ready to get yourself some compression socks for hotter weather, browse our selection of socks to find what style is right for you this season.

    About the Author

    Kaki Zell - Vice President of Sales, Marketing, eCommerce at Legs-4-Life LLC Kaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She’s been working in the medical device industry for over 11 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greensboro Science Center.  


    Medically Reviewed February 2021

    Dr. Chris Dickson, M.D., is a board-certified vascular surgeon and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons who received his M.D. Degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has received general surgery training from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dickson has obtained two vascular fellowships and three research fellowships and has also had authored 19 publications and two book chapters. Since 1996, Dr. Dickson has been in practice in Greensboro, North Carolina.


    Written July 2019 | Page last updated December 2021


    Science Direct. “Properties of Fibers and Fabrics that Contribute to Human Comfort” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781845695392500028 

    NDTV Food. “Water Retention: 7 Effective Ways to Cure the Condition This Summer” https://food.ndtv.com/health/7-effective-ways-to-cure-water-retention-this-summer1685278

    Cleveland Clinic. “What You Should Know About Compression Socks” https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-you-should-know-about-compression-socks/

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