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Some runners claim they work like a charm during the run itself, and some only use them to speed up recovery, so you’ll have to try them out for yourself in a few different ways to see how they can work for you.
To really feel the benefits, you don’t want to be buying any old pair of compression socks. They need to fit correctly and exert the right amount of pressure, as well as offer the comfort and support that you need. These requirements will vary from one runner to the next, so check out the guide below to figure out your best fit.
Unlike your average gym or running socks, the fit of compression socks needs to be much more exact – after all, their job is to fit snugly and perform as more than just something to cover your feet. Read on for our tips on measuring up correctly and a debrief on men's and women's sizes.
Compression sock sizes tend to be listed as small/medium, large/extra large, or a slight variation of this. There should always be a measurement chart supplied by the manufacturer for you to refer to. If there’s not, move on. Your shoe size and calf measurement used in unison will give you your size, so make sure you know both.
To find your calf measurement, grab a tape measure and note the circumference of the widest part of your calf. Some brands will use centimetres and some inches, so perhaps take a note of both and keep them handy. Similarly, the sizing used will also vary from brand to brand, so choose appropriately with your measurements as your guide.
There are some running compression socks marketed as women’s, some as men’s, and some as unisex. So is there a difference if you’re using the sizing chart and choosing a pair that fit your measurements? Well, only slightly.
Men’s compression socks are usually a little longer in the foot and have a greater calf length, whereas women’s are designed a little shorter. So really, you could go for whichever suits your body type, or one or the other if you are particularly short, tall, or large-footed. Or, just stick to unisex if you’re unsure!
For example, a 20-30 mmHg sock would imply that the firmest end of the pressure scale exerted on the foot is 30 mmHg, and the 20 mmHg would be the decreased pressure further up the leg. Here are the levels of compression so you can get a better idea of where the numbers stand:
If you suffer from painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis or you want some extra stability on the vulnerable ankle joint when running, opt for a shorter sock as the pressure will be focused on the foot and ankle. You will sacrifice some of the compression for this support, though.
However, if it’s shin splints that ail you, you'll definitely want to go for calf-length compression socks, as they will provide some relief whilst still aiding your recovery and keeping that healthy blood circulating.
A blend of polyester or polyamide and nylon or lycra is best as you’ll get the benefits of a synthetic alongside the elasticity needed to pull them on and off without a struggle.
We’d also recommend looking for athletic fabrics that have been designed to make your life easier when running, such as moisture-wicking, heat-regulating, sweat-wicking and antibacterial. Think about when you run too, as those who lace up their trainers year-round may want to look for thicker fabrics in winter and cooling ones for summer.
Look out for ventilated mesh panels to help with breathability or padding on the heels, toes and balls of the feet, all of which will benefit those who run marathons or trails, or suffer from sweaty feet.
Comfort-boosting cushioning is also a great addition to seek out regardless of your running style, as it will be shock absorbing and anti-chafing.
Those who'd prefer something a little more low-key could stick to a trusty black pair, especially if you tend to wear shorts or run outside in summer. That said, colour will be less of a consideration if you wear long joggers or leggings that will hide them away anyway, allowing you to focus on the pairs’ other merits!
Whichever you choose, it’s worth noting how many pairs each pack contains, and weighing this up next to factors such as the amount of clean pairs you want on hand (or in other words how many times a week you go running/do laundry!), and select accordingly after evaluating the cost alongside your budget.
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Vectr Light Cushion Full Length Socks
Unrivalled Support for Every Runner
Unisex Compression Socks
High-Performance Pressure on a Budget
Women’s Performance X Compression Socks
A Fabulous Women’s Pair From the Market Leader
A Great Value Firm Pressure Multipack
Premium Graduated Compression Socks
A High-Pressure Pair That Keep You Cool
Graduated Compression Socks
Top Quality Socks That'll Get You Noticed
Cushioned Graduated Compression Socks
Best Pick for Cushioned Comfort
Fresh Compression Socks
Affordable and Reliable From a Trusted Brand
Run Women’s 3.0 Compression Socks
The Latest Tech That’s Worth the Splurge
Plantar Fasciitis Compression Socks
Foot Condition-Specific Compression for Plantar Fasciitis
Nowadays there are all sorts of technical clothing items and gadgets for running to get excited about, and who doesn't want to make life as a fitness fan easier and more fun? Here are some more ideas to help you level up your running gear.
So, the ideal compression socks utilise the best of today’s sports fabrics, support features, and technical extras whilst providing you with the right amount of firm pressure to match your preferences. Hopefully, you’ve learnt a thing or two about the wonders of compression socks and have found a pair amongst our recommendations.
Author: Natasha Dziubajlo
No. 1: 2XU｜Vectr Light Cushion Full Length Socks
No. 2: Physix Gear ｜Unisex Compression Socks
No. 3: 2XU｜Women’s Performance X Compression Socks
No. 4: Calves Kelson｜Compression Socks/Stockings
No. 5: Runderwear ｜Premium Graduated Compression Socks
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