We’re all looking for a way to get an edge, whether we’re competing in a sports event or simply going for a run around the neighborhood.
Compression socks have become a popular tool for both casual and professional athletes, but do they really offer any benefit for someone who doesn’t need them for a medical treatment?
Let’s take a closer look at compression ankle socks and the kind of benefits that they offer.
In A Hurry? Here are the best ankle compression socks:
What are Compression Ankle Socks?
Compression socks are quite different from the standard CrossFit socks that you might have in your dresser drawer. From a medical perspective, compression socks are used to increase blood flow from the lower extremities.
When you’re standing or walking, the blood in your legs and feet has to work against gravity to flow back upward to the heart.
In a healthy individual, this normally isn’t a problem.
For individuals with circulation problems, who are sedentary or bedridden are at higher risk for developing blood clots in the legs.
Compression socks work by squeezing the tissue in the lower legs and feet to prevent blood from pooling in your lower extremities.
It also prevents edema, or swelling, by improving the flow of fluids within the tissue.
Compression socks can even be used to treat ankle swelling and ankle pain, as long as they are worn correctly.
Benefits of Compression Ankle Socks
Even healthy individuals can benefit from wearing compression socks. Some benefits include:
- Muscle Stabilization – Proper compression acts as a stabilizer for the muscles, and reduces muscle vibration. This, in turn, helps to decrease muscle fatigue.
- Better Blood Circulation – Studies have shown that compression causes the arteries in the legs to dilate, increasing blood flow 40 percent while active and 30 percent while recovering from exercise. (Source)
- Quicker Recovery Time – Compression helps to fight the effects of gravity on blood flow, decreasing recovery time after athletic activities.
- Reduce Ankle Swelling – Compression socks are traditionally used to treat things like edema. Wearing compression socks can help reduce swelling in your feet and ankles.
- Prevent Varicose Veins – Varicose veins can be unsightly and even painful. Compression socks can reduce and prevent varicose veins from forming.
- Prevent Injuries – Since compression socks reduce muscle vibration, it can prevent some vibration related injuries like shin splints.
- Accelerated Injury Recovery – The acronym for ankle injuries is RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. (Source) Compression can help injuries heal faster by improving blood flow and reducing vibration that could further irritate the injured area.
- Prevent Swelling During Travel – Many people wear loose shoes during air travel because spending time sitting and the changes in elevation can cause hands and feet to swell. Wearing compression socks prevents this.
Whether you’re planning on running a marathon or simply want a quick and easy way to reduce swelling in your feet and ankles, nearly everyone can benefit from wearing compression ankle socks.
Considerations Before Buying
What do you need to look into before purchasing your first pair of compression ankle socks?
- Material – Most compression socks can be made from a variety of different materials, primarily cotton or microfiber woven with lycra or spandex. Other materials may also be woven into the fabric to provide additional features.
- Durability – You don’t want to invest in a few pair of compression socks if they’re going to fall apart on you the first time you put them into the washer. Look for socks that are made to be durable, with reinforced heels and toes for additional strength.
- Size – The key to proper compression is getting socks that are the right size. Make sure that you aren’t getting socks that are too small that could end up creating too much compression. On the other side of the coin, socks that are too large could allow the socks to wrinkle, putting too much pressure on one spot.
- Compression Rating – Different socks provide different levels of compression. Make sure you check the compression rating on the socks you purchase. A good rule of thumb is to start with the lowest rating and work your way up if you need more compression. They are measured in mmHg or millimeters of mercury which is a measurement of pressure. Most over the counter socks will provide 15 and 20 mmHg of pressure, while medical grade socks can reach up to 50 mmHg.
- Moisture Wicking – Let’s face it. Feet sweat. If you’re going to be wearing compression socks for long periods of time, having moisture wicking material can help keep your feet dryer and more comfortable.
- Breathable – You don’t want socks that are going to suffocate your feet. Cotton and microfiber are usually breathable materials. It’s the additional materials like spandex and lycra that can take away from of the breath-ability.
- Lightweight – Compression ankle socks don’t have to be heavy. Find socks that are lightweight but still offer sufficient compression.
- Style – Gone are the days of bulky or awkward looking compression socks. Now they come in a variety of colors and styles to suit any aesthetic.
- Price – Medical compression socks can range from $10 to $100, depending on the style and amount of compression you need. If you don’t need those high levels of compression, athletic compression socks can be very affordable.
- Washability – Some compression socks can’t be washed in a washing machine because it will cause them to lose compression. If you’re going to be using these socks while exercising, look for ones that can be washed without being damaged.
This might seem like a long list, but not all compression ankle socks are created equal so it pays to do your research before making a purchase
Can Wearing Compression Ankle Socks be Harmful?
While most people can benefit from wearing compression socks, there are some people that should avoid using them before speaking with their doctor.
Anyone who suffers from peripheral artery disease or peripheral neuropathy or conditions that cause skin lesions or dermatitis should avoid using compression socks.
On health individuals, it’s important to wear the socks properly. They should lay flat against the skin and not be allowed to wrinkle or fold over themselves.
A folded compression sock can put too much pressure on one portion of the limb, leading to injury.
It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor before you start wearing compression socks or make any changes to your normal activity.
Top Compression Ankle Socks Reviewed
Let’s take a look at a few of the best compression socks on the market and see what sets them apart from the rest of the pack.
Physix Gear Compression Socks
If you like to have a pair of socks to match every outfit, these compression socks by Physix Gear are a great option.
They’re easy to put on – which is a perk for compression socks which can sometimes be difficult to get your feet into – and provides 20-30 mmHG of compression evenly across your feet.
These socks are made from a breathable lycra blend that is designed to be washed without losing compression, making them ideal for athletes.They are also recommended for individuals who are suffering from foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
The socks themselves are low-cut, designed to spread compression support evenly across the foot without slipping down and causing potential harm.
If you’re looking for the perfect sock for your athletic activities, this is an excellent choice.
Be sure to check Physix Gear sizing chart before ordering. These socks are available in two sizes – small/medium and large/extra large.
The smaller size fits women with a shoe size of 5.5-8.5 or men’s sizes 5 – 9. The larger size fits women’s 8 to 15.5 and mens 8-14. They don’t offer a sizing chart for anything other than U.S. sizes.
CharmKing Compression Socks
Compression socks don’t have to be medical products, and that is what CharmKing’s athletic socks are trying to prove.
They provide between 15-20 mmHg of compression and come in a pack of six so you will always have a pair of compression socks handy when you need them.
The toe and heel of the socks are reinforced as well to help increase their durability.
These socks are designed to prevent swelling and can be used to help with cramping and even to lessen the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
These are not as low-cut as the previous socks on that we’ve reviewed, which provides additional support for the upper foot and ankle.
They will peek above your shoe but they look just like regular socks so you’ll never be able to tell the difference.
Like the Physix Gear socks, these come in two sizes – small/medium and large/extra large.
The smaller size fits a women’s 5.5 to 8.5 (4-6.5 in the UK) and men’s 5-9 (4-8 in the UK). The larger size will fit a women’s 8-15.5 (5.5 – 13 in the UK) or a men’s 8-14 (7-13.5 in the UK).
The fact that these comes in a pack of six makes them much more cost effective than many of the other options on the market.
Copper Compression Socks
This is where things start to get really interesting.
Like many of the other socks that we’ve reviewed, these compression socks are made of lightweight breathable materials.
What sets them apart is the copper ions that are woven into the fabric. The copper acts as a natural antibacterial agent, keeping the fabric fresh even under the harshest conditions.
These are also not as low-cut as some of the other socks that we’ve reviewed, but just because they peek up above your sneakers doesn’t mean that they’ll look awkward with your sneakers or work boots.
They provide 15-20 mmHg of compression across the entire foot, offering improved circulation and relief from aches and pains.
The two sizes of these socks – also small/medium and large/extra large, fit very similar size ranges as the previous two socks. S/M will fit women’s 5-9 or men’s 4-8, and L/XL will fit women’s 10-12.5 and men’s 9-11.5.
These socks also come in a pack of five, making them a great cost-effective option.
Wrapping It Up
Compression socks can be a useful and comfortable tool that can improve blood flow, increase performance, and reduce swelling – all while looking like nothing more than a pair of socks.
The key with compression socks is making sure that they fit well, and that they don’t roll down or fold up.
If you are concerned about using compression socks, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before wearing them but for most people, there are a number of benefits that can come from something as simple as switching to a pair of compression socks.
Just do some research before you choose a brand to purchase, because not all compression socks are created equal. If you find a good brand, though, they will serve you well for years to come