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Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky but science actually backs up their biggest claimed benefit: Improving your circulation.
“Compression socks help the vascular system move blood and other fluids, which can help manage swelling and inflammation,” Jenelle Deatherage, a physical therapist at the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, told Insider.
At their foundation, compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also improves the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulates bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.
Deatherage added that several categories of people may benefit from wearing compression socks, including athletes who could look to enhance their workouts. This is especially true for runners.
“There’s not great research on performance, which is what a lot of patients look for, but the good news is that there is some research that shows [compression socks] might help with muscle fatigue and reduce soreness if you wear them during a workout,” she explained.
Because of those benefits, compression socks have become quite popular recently — and that popularity brought with it a surplus of options. To help narrow down what’s available, we tested dozens of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.
At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into who Detherage says may benefit most from compression socks, tips on how to shop for them, and the best methods for how to use and wear them. You can learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and recommends health and fitness products here.
Here are the best compression socks:
Best overall: CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0, from $41.96 on Amazon
Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.
Best on a budget: SB Sox Lite Compression Socks, $10.95 on Amazon
The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.
Best circulation support: Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks, $26.95 on REI
If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.
Best for post-workout: Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks, from $40.31 on Amazon
After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.
Best for runners: Swiftkick Aspire Twelve, from $29.99 on Amazon
Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.
Best for standing all day: Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks, from $26.99 on Amazon
If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell’s Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.
Best patterned: Vim & Vigr Graduated Compression Socks, $36 on Vim & Vigr
Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.