Why Wear Compression Socks and Stockings?

Compression socks and stockings are a popular solution for a wide array of problems, ranging from minor inconveniences to more serious health concerns. Despite the popular acclaim, some people still wonder, "why wear compression socks?" In this guide, we'll walk you through the many benefits of compression socks and stockings. We'll also cover the distinctions between the two and how they work to relieve pain and discomfort in certain areas. 


How Do Compression Socks Work?

Compression socks and stockings use graduated compression to improve blood circulation. This means the fit is tighter at the ankle than above, and the pressure decreases as the sock or hose runs up the leg. This encourages healthy blood flow through the leg and the rest of the body.


Treating Different Body Parts

Preventing swelling or edema

Tissue swelling is generally caused by fluids that are stored around the cells of the body. Certain parts of the body are more prone to swelling, like the feet, calves, and ankles. Wearing compression stockings can help improve swollen feet and legs by moving retained fluid from the area. You can also use compression wear on other parts of your body, like your arms, for quick relief.

Treating varicose veins

Varicose veins occur when there are problems with the valves located inside the veins, most commonly affecting those in the legs. When this happens, blood will circulate back into the veins, leading to symptoms like pain and swelling in the area. It can also result in noticeable physical symptoms like green or gray discoloration of the veins, or veins enlarged to the point of expanding toward the outer surface of the skin.

While compression hosiery does not treat varicose veins, they can help alleviate the symptoms. When compression stocks and stockings are applied, they can help increase venous blood flow, reducing swelling and minimizing the appearance of varicose veins.

Other Compression Sock Benefits

A reason why wearing compression socks is so popular is that improved circulation benefits not only those suffering from edema or varicose veins, but people from all walks of life!


What do compression socks do for athletes?

You may see both amateur and professional runners wearing compression socks, as well as other individuals engaged in sports and outdoor activities. Generally, runners wear compression garments to ensure that their legs get proper circulation, avoiding swelling and the necessity of wearing shin splints. People who wear compression materials are also shown to perform better during races and other activities.

Other athletes like hikers, mountain climbers, and cyclists also wear compression sportswear to enhance their performance and help fight fatigue and pain. Many hikers also love the protective covering compression socks offer, fending off dirt and other elements, as well as helping to prevent scratches, cuts, and abrasions when going on outdoor trips or moving through rough trails.

If you’d like to feel stronger and run more efficiently, you may discover that compression socks and stockings can help — check out our athletic compression socks and leg sleeves.

More Benefits

Boosting circulation is especially important for individuals who stay in one position for several hours, like frequent travelers. Deep vein thrombosis is a serious and common problem among those who sit on a bus, train, airplane, or car for several hours regularly. The problem occurs when blood does not properly circulate to the legs; this can cause the development of blood clots, which can lead to more serious problems. Wearing compression stockings can help prevent this problem and relieve general pain and discomfort throughout the trip. They can also be greatly beneficial for people who sit at a desk all day and work best when the wearer takes a few minutes to move around and stretch out.

Pregnant women can also benefit from a circulation boost since many pregnant women are prone to increased retention of fluids and weight gain. Wearing compression socks and stockings can help improve venous blood flow in the area, which in turn can help reduce swelling and relieve pain in the knees and legs.

We hope you've learned something new about why wearing compression socks and stockings can benefit you or someone you know. Now that you're more familiar with the benefits of wearing compression socks, explore our trusted selection to experience the difference yourself!

For answers to more queries about compression wear, see our frequently asked questions and learn more.

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 March 2022

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 authored 19 publications and two book chapters. Since 1996, Dr. Dickson has been in practice in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Written April 2013 | Page last updated May 2022


Cleveland Clinic. “Swollen Feet and Ankles: Treatments to Try” https://health.clevelandclinic.org/6-best-ways-relieve-swollen-feet-ankles-home/ 

John Hopkins Medicine. “Varicose Veins” https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/varicose-veins 

Mayo Clinic. “Deep Vein Thrombosis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352557 

Medical News Today. “Water Retention (Fluid Retention): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/187978 

Medical News Today. “Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins: Benefits and Risks” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321662 

The National Institutes of Health. “Compression Socks Reduce Occupational Leg Swelling” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15099316/ 

The National Institutes of Health. “Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing?” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27106555/ 

The National Institutes of Health. “Pregnancy and Birth: Weight Gain in Pregnancy” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279575/

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