How Compression Socks Work

Does your health care provider recommend that you wear compression garments? Are compression stockings recommended for you when flying? Is compression suggested to you because of chronic venous disease, phlebitis, pulmonary embolism or a recent operation? Your family doctor, podiatrist, chiropodist, or chiropractor may recommend these in conjunction with proper orthotic wear for ideal lower-body health.

How do compression garments work?

A compression garment is a medical device that improves blood circulation and supports the venous system. It can be worn as leggings, socks, sweaters, sleeves or gauntlets. This is the optimal treatment for various pathologies. By putting pressure on the veins, these clothes allow them to more easily deliver blood to the heart.

Its principle of action is gradual compression. For the lower limbs, for example, this means that the compression is strong at the ankles, then decreases as it moves up the leg, which allows the blood to rise faster and re-oxygenate more quickly. Thus, the legs regain energy and better blood flow. The same goes for sleeves or even gauntlets; This massage and drainage action also starts from the principle of gradual compression.

Why wear compression garments?

Compression garments can be the treatment for various pathologies. Symptoms can include a feeling of heavy legs, varicose veins, edema, pain, cramps, numbness or muscle weakness. By wearing compression, it is possible to see a reduction or disappearance of pain, a reduction in swelling and an improved ability to stand for a long time.

Compression stockings are also used by athletes to improve sports recovery . The compression effect allows better oxygenation of the blood leading to improved blood flow. Thus, many athletes and marathon runners report better results, a reduction in inflammation and a reduction in muscle fatigue.

Patient putting on compression stockings

What problems may require wearing pressure garments?

  • Venous insufficiency: This is a reduction in blood flow in the veins with an increase in pressure in them. There is a risk of damaging the veins and generating clots.

  • Lymphedema : This is an abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid in a part of the body causing significant edema.

  • Lipedema: This is a chronic progressive disease involving abnormal deposition of fatty tissue under the skin.

  • Phlebitis or thrombosis: These are blood clots that form in a vein.

How to get compression garments?

You should know that the level of compression must be adapted to various health problems. It is therefore necessary to consult a doctor and obtain a prescription in order to obtain the appropriate level of compression for you.

15-20 mmHg: This is a light support that helps relieve the feeling of heavy and slightly swollen legs. It is mainly used preventatively, particularly during more active days, during airplane flights or even during pregnancy to prevent varicose veins. This type of light compression does not require a prescription, but it is still recommended.

20-30 mmHg: This level of compression is the most common. It helps treat chronic pain and significant fatigue in the legs, reduce mild edema, treat varicose veins or even treat orthostatic hypotension. A prescription from a doctor is necessary to obtain clothing at this compression level.

30-40 mmHg: It can treat cases of phlebitis, active ulcers, deep vein thromboses, but also cases of serious varicose veins and finally cases of severe to moderate stage lymphedema. There are also higher compression levels, however, they are much less common since they are used in more severe cases.

Man putting on his compression stockings

What are the best practices for wearing pressure garments?

  • Your compression garments should be put on early when you wake up. They will be easier to put on since this is when the swelling will be the lowest.

  • Putting on the stocking must be done with specific gloves or a donning device so as not to damage the fibers and to make it easier to put on.

  • Remove your rings and be careful of the nails when putting them on.

  • Make sure to remove all wrinkles in clothing.

  • Take the time to properly maintain your compression garments in order to benefit from a longer lifespan.

Check Our More of Our Resources

For Practitioners

Read the latest from our resources. 

For Patients

Share meaningful info to patients at your clinic.


Monday: 8am-4:30pm MST
Tuesday: 8am-4:30pm MST
Wednesday: 8am-4:30pm MST
Thursday: 8am-4:30pm MST
Friday: 8am-4:30pm MST
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed