Do Compression Socks Really Work?

by | Nov 25, 2023

Aren’t all socks the same?

How can a “tight sock” help me?

As a physiotherapist I get asked a lot of questions about compression socks.  Many doctors will prescribe these socks. It’s hard to believe that you need a prescription to buy a pair of socks?????

And why can’t I just buy these socks from a regular store? 
After all – a sock is a sock is a sock …………..   Right?

Well, not exactly. 

In the blog I would like to start by describing what exactly is a compression sock- how do they work?  Are there any benefits to wearing them?  Who could wear them?  How to pick which compression sock is best for you?

What is a compression sock?

Compression socks (or stockings) are designed to be tight so that they gently squeeze your legs and help promote better blood circulation in your legs.  It’s a very simple way to help your circulation but often people do not think that a pair of socks could be that helpful.

Chronic Venous Disease or insufficiency is a condition where the valves of the veins of the legs (calf) get weaker over time and this means that the blood does not flow back to your heart.  Instead the blood flows backwards which then increases pressure in your peripheral venous system.  How do you know this is happening?  Well if you see swollen veins in your legs then this may mean your valves are not working and blood is not flowing but pooling in your legs and feet.  

In fact, when all this blood is just sitting in your legs – blood clots can form called Deep Vein Thrombosis.  If these clots travel they can reach the lungs which can be very dangerous.  

Do Compression Socks Really Work?

How do compression socks work?

Well, the compression or tightness of the sock is highest at your toes and then gradually gets less as the sock squeezes your leg so the blood and other fluids flow upwards. 

This means you will have

  1. Less swelling in your legs and ankles
  2. Increased circulation and blood flow in your legs
  3. Less risk of creating a blood clot that can travel


Not everyone should be wearing compression socks – if you have a condition where you have reduced blood flow in your legs due to peripheral artery disease THEN you should NOT wear compression socks!!!

Benefits of wearing compression socks

  • Increased circulation and blood flow
  • Improved lymphatic drainage
  • Prevent blood pooling that may lead to blood clots
  • Decreased swelling in legs and ankles
  • Decreased pain/ ache in legs
  • Increased energy

Who should wear a compression sock?

Do you have a job that requires you to stand a lot during the day – maybe you work in a hospital (nurse, doctor, therapist), or service industry (coffee shop, retail store, grocery store).  Or maybe your job requires you to sit most of the day – in the office or driving.  Well for all of us in these groups the prolonged standing or sitting is preventing proper normal return of blood and lymphatic fluid from our legs and feet.  How many of us feel our legs are swollen and achey at the end of the day.   

For many of us simply wearing a compression sock at the beginning of our day could help us feel energetic throughout the entire day.

How to pick the right compression sock

First its important to know that if compression socks are being used to treat medical conditions such as: post operative, diabetes, venous insufficiency, lymphedema etc 

Then, you will need a prescription from your medical doctor to ensure that you get the right amount of compression for your condition.

If you want to be preventative because you stand or sit all day for your job, then you can be fitted with a milder compression that will also help you.  

Also, compression stocking come in different lengths from a regular knee high sock to a longer thigh length and finally to a full pantyhose length. 

If you want to learn more about how you might incorporate compression stockings into your overall health and wellness – give us a call!.  We are here to help you and we bring our knowledge and experience with us.

Frequently asked questions about compression socks.

1. Do you need a prescription from a doctor?

Yes, we know that MOST insurance companies require a prescription from your medical doctor.

2. How many hours should you wear my compression stockings?

It is recommended to wear them for 6-10 hours per day while you are active – if you wear them for swelling in your legs.

3. When should you NOT wear compression stockings?

If your doctor says you have poor circulation in your leg arteries or some serious heart conditions.You should also NOT wear your stockings overnight because when you lie dow

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