How to choose compression stockings in 5 steps?

Various Compression  Stockings Styles - Length And Colors: How To Choose Them in 5 Steps


This text aims to make it easier for you to choose the compression socks that are best suited to you.

Plus, it tells you how to do it in five easy steps.

If you have other questions about compression stockings, you can also read our FAQ blog. It gathers many tips and answers the most frequently asked questions on compression stockings.

What are compression socks?

Typically, the first question asked by someone who has never worn a medical compression stocking before is:

What do compression socks do?

So, here is a brief description:

Best compression socks from well-known brands are made with a graduated compression fabric.

These materials massage the legs affected by chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This progressive pressure-based therapy will allow blood to circulate better to the heart.

Men’s or Women’s compression socks are available in three grades or levels of graduated compression.

They are also offered in several lengths, sizes, and models.

How do you get most of the compression socks benefits?

So, to get the most out of compression socks benefits, it's crucial to:

You can also read our beginner’s guide about compression stockings to learn more about how they work.

Steps to follow in choosing your compression socks

Step 1: Are you looking for compression socks for men or women?

Choose a compression stocking accurately measured to the user's gender and morphology.

Thus, it is essential to go for compression socks designed specifically for women or men, as the case may be.

Compression Stockings For Women - Pink Purple - With Pink Background


Compression Socks For Men - Brown Opaque With Clear Blue Backgound


Step 2: What are compression socks used for?

Women’s and men’s compression socks fall into three main categories.

They are categorized according to their recommended use:

  1. Compression socks for running, hiking, or other sport
  2. Compression stockings to prevent varicose vein in the legs, or other venous disease
  3. Medical compression stocking to help treat varicose veins, spider veins, blood clots, superficial phlebitis, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Step 3: What level of compression socks do I need?

The next step is to choose your compression stockings grade.

The most popular compression socks levels (or grades) are:

For people with chronic venous insufficiency or varicose veins, their doctor will typically determine the correct levels of compression socks to wear.

mmHg meaning

mmHg means millimeters of mercury. It is a measurement unit used to measure blood pressure.

mmHg is also used as to measure the grades of compression stockings. This will help determine how much the 20 30 mmHg or 30 40 mmHg (or other compression grades) can improve blood pressure.

What's a chronic venous insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency, or CVI, is caused by inadequate blood circulation.

It occurs when dysfunctional vein valves in the leg prevent blood from flowing adequately to the heart.


Legs With Chronic Insufficiency Signs - Varicose Veins and Venous Ulcers

 Typical venous insufficiency symptoms are:

  • Swollen ankles
  • Leg pain
  • Cramp on leg
  • Swollen legs (edema): swelling in legs is felt during the day. It becomes less visible at night and when getting out of bed in the morning
  • Itchy leg
  • Heavy legs feeling
  • Varicose veins in legs
  • Venous ulcer

These symptoms are more severe for people with acute venous insufficiency, including phlebitis or deep vein thrombosis.

Choosing compression stockings grading:

The table below shows the most suitable compression stocking grade by the purpose of use and venous insufficiency symptoms:

Table 1: compression socks grading to wear by signs or for which use 
Which compression stockings grade to wear for my venous disorder?
Use/Symptoms 15 20 mmHg compression socks 20 30 mmHg compression socks 30 40 mmHg compression socks 40 50 mmHg compression socks
Crew compression socks/ for travel
Reduce fatigue during the day
Running compression socks
Varicose vein prevention
Heaviness in legs
Aching legs
Numbness in the calf or thigh
Edema in legs/swollen ankles
Varicose veins on legs
Superficial phlebitis
More severe phlebitis
Deep venous thrombosis

Warning: For people with varicose veins in the leg, superficial phlebitis, or deep vein thrombosis, consult a health professional before wearing compression socks.

Step 4: Length to wear

Depending on the compression brand and style, they are available in four lengths:

  1. Ankle compression socks
  2. Compression socks for under knees (knee high)
  3. Over the knee compression socks (thigh high), and
  4. Compression pantyhose (tight)

The suitable length will depend on which parts of your legs are affected by venous insufficiency or varicose veins.

Legs Showing Varicose Veins in Calves - Illustration

The table below shows how to choose your compression stockings length by body part:

Table 2: Compression socks length to choose by body part

Which compression socks length to choose by body part?
Venous insufficiency/ Varicose veins location No show - Ankle compression socks Knee high compression socks Thigh high compression socks Compression pantyhose
At ankle
At calf
At thigh
In calf and thigh

Note: Runner compression socks are only available in knee high length.

Step 5: Sizing for compression socks

At this point, you need to measure the size of your compression socks.

How to measure for compression stockings?

Follow the sizing chart for the compression socks brand and model to measure your size.

Note: How to measure your compression stockings size may differ depending on the chosen stocking model and length.

For Doctor Brace compression socks, you can watch this tutorial on how to measure compression stockings:


This article showed you how to choose your compression stockings for women or men in 5 easy steps.

The most important things to remember are:

  1. Go for compression socks made by a recognized brand
  2. Be sure that it is made with graduated compression
  3. Choose the correct compression grade
  4. Pick the correct length
  5. Measure your size properly


Article last updated: April 11, 2024.

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Wal Assi

About the author

Wal Assi

Wal combines cutting-edge technical expertise with solid practical experience acquired over more than twenty-nine years, including fifteen years at the helm of companies specializing in orthopedic products and health & wellness products.

Holding a Bachelor of Business Administration, an MBA, and the CFA designation, Wal has an in-depth knowledge of specialized orthopedic products, ranging from compression socks to supports and braces.

In addition to his practical and technical knowledge of various products, Wal keeps up to date by attending continuous training, following new industry trends, and reading scientific and professional articles related to the products distributed by Doctor Brace.

Wal offers reliable and well-researched advice through his writings. His articles reflect his technical and practical expertise, as well as a deep understanding of the needs of his target clientele.