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What are medical grade compression socks and how do they work?

Medical grade compression socks have pressure levels of 20-30mmHg and up. Sizing is most popular in knee-high length, but options such as thigh-high and pantyhose are also common.

There are multiple compression levels within a medical grade sock. These are designed and applied at different stages of the lower limbs in order to promote blood flow and swelling back up the legs. If you can imagine - in order to get that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, we must squeeze tightest at the bottom and slide our fingers upwards. Once the toothpaste builds up at the top of the tube we don’t need to squeeze as hard, as it is already releasing. Compression socks work in the same way – the compression levels for the socks are tightest around the ankle (100%), and gradually decrease up the leg (achilles region - 80%, calf region 60% etc.), which in turn will prevent any pooling of blood/fluids within the lower limbs

This will also promote blood flow upwards (towards the heart/lungs), so that it can be re-oxygenated at a faster rate. This is important, as oxygenated blood is crucial for enduring aerobic exercise and preventing fatigue.

Can I benefit from compression socks?

As mentioned above, the main objective with using compression socks is to promote blood flow and prevent swelling within the lower limbs. Significant evidence suggests the compression stockings may:

  • Delay early onset of fatigue.
  • Prevent tired achy legs.
  • Prevent swelling.
  • Promote healing either from injury or overuse.
  • Prevent blood pooling and potential blood clotting.
  • Prevent the progression of varicose veins/spider veins (a common discoloration seen in veins due to inadequate valves)


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