How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks to Improve Circulation?

When it comes to our bodies, we often take our legs for granted considering how much work they do for us daily. Supporting the majority of our body weight and allowing us to navigate the world. Which is why health issues concerning our legs are so serious. In particular, we are going to be looking at one of the more common, and dangerous issues you can face. Blood circulation problems that can lead to deep vein thrombosis, or dvt for short.

Types of Circulation Problems Compression Stockings Help With

Varicose Veins

When it comes to circulatory issues in the legs, the most common and well known is varicose veins. While the name is common knowledge, spotting it isn’t. varicose veins present themselves as large and bumpy. They can sometimes be twisted and are distinguishable by their color, either blue or dark purple. Due to the swelling the blood flow of these veins is heavily restricted causing pain and discomfort and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious issues. We’ve written extensively about the benefits of compression socks for varicose veins and highly recommend them to help reduce and prevent them.


Lymphoedema is another issue that can cause serious circulatory issues in the legs. This condition is characterized by swelling of the skin, creating pressure on the veins, and restricting blood flow. Again, this issue will present itself with discomfort and pain but if left untreated can develop into something much more serious.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

This is when you develop a blood clot in your vein. It commonly occurs in the veins deep within your legs, which is why people that wear compression stockings are less at risk of developing DVT and other types of blood clots. Any sort of blood clot can be very serious, because if they come loose then they can travel to other parts of your body through the bloodstream, potentially getting lodged in your lungs, and if this happens it's called a pulmonary embolism, which is a life threatening condition that must be treated immediately.

All three of these issues are very serious. Should you notice the symptoms of either of these, even if they are minor, call 111 immediately or book an appointment with your local family doctor. You can never be too careful when it comes to issues such as these.

How Do Compression Stockings Work to Treat Swelling?

Circulatory issues within the legs and feet can be treated in a number of ways, which your family doctor will go through with you. One of these methods is compression socks.

Compression socks (sometimes known as compression stockings) are exactly what you would think. They are large socks, varying in length depending on what your doctor thinks you need, that apply pressure to the leg to improve circulation. The pressure they apply to your leg will increase blood flow, ease the burden on your veins, and reduce any discomfort being caused. This is why doctors commonly prescribe medical grade compression socks for edema and other circulatory issues, along with other medicines or exercise regimes.

If your medical practitioner decides compression stockings are right for you, they will go through several things first. Starting with examining your leg, taking measurements, and seeing if both legs are as bad as each other. They will also do a try on test while you are there to make sure they are working properly before you take them home.

Can Wearing Compression Socks Be Harmful?

Compression socks aren’t like other, more traditional medicines. You do not put them on when you feel discomfort or rotate them throughout the day. You simply put them on first thing in the morning and keep them on throughout the day, wherever possible that is.

Typically you will want to take off your compression stocking before you go to bed. While laying down our body’s circulation works differently without gravity acting on it in the same way, so they won't be as effective. Your GP may tell you differently, in which case follow their guidance, but a good rule of thumb is to take them off before bed.

It is important to make sure you are cleaning your compression socks regularly and properly. Dirty compression socks could introduce a whole new host of issues to your body. Experts suggest handwashing them and avoiding direct heat to dry. A good rule to follow when washing is, if your hand is comfortable in the warm water, you are good to go.

How Long Will You Wear Them?

Once you have been prescribed compression socks you will want to go back to your GP on a regular basis to have your progress monitored and new socks fitted if need be. This will be at the discretion of your GP depending on your case.

But unlike some other treatments, compression socks are not a one and done deal. You could be wearing them for months or years. In some cases, people have to wear them for the rest of their life to avoid circulatory issues. But this does not apply for all instances of compression socks.

Sometimes surgeons will prescribe patient compression socks to wear after certain surgeries, mainly ones that affect the patient's ability to move. If this is the case, doctors recommend you wear the socks both day and night until you feel your movement is back to where it started.

Another time you will want to be wearing your compression socks, if they are needed, is while flying. Sitting down for long periods in a small, often uncomfortable seat, can play havoc on your legs. So make sure you have them on for the flight. As with any medical information, make sure you check everything with your GP.

Size Guide
OTC Compression Socks
Women’s US Shoe Size

5 – 7

7.5 – 9.5

10 – 12

Men’s US Shoe Size

6 – 8

8.5 – 10.5

11 – 13

Calf Circumference

26 – 34 cm

30 – 38 cm

34 – 42 cm

38 – 46 cm

Crew Compression Socks
Women's US Shoe Size

5 – 7

7.5 – 9.5

10 – 12

Men's US Shoe Size

6 – 8

8.5 – 10.5

11 – 13

Compression Sleeves
Calf Circumference

27 – 31 cm

32 – 36 cm

37 – 41 cm

42 – 46 cm

Body Width
Body Length
Sleeve Length