Have you ever been surprised to find that your legs, feet, or ankles are swollen following a long flight? Perhaps you even suffer from leg pain as you make your way from your gate to baggage claim. If this happens to you, regardless of how often you fly, then it may be time to consider trying compression socks.
The purpose of compression socks is to promote blood circulation from the legs back to the heart, which is thought to help reduce swelling and potentially even lower the risk for blood clots. These are all serious health concerns for frequent fliers, as being seated for long periods of time on an airplane can compress blood vessels and make you more prone to blood clots and poor overall circulation. Combine this with the fact that travelers are often dehydrated, and it’s easy to see why this can be a recipe for health issues.
Compression socks use gentle and graduated compression that could help reduce your risk of these health issues while also improving overall comfort while traveling. The next time you have to fly, consider trying out one of the top-rated compression socks for travel as ranked below. You can also better inform yourself about travel compression socks by learning about the advantages and potential drawbacks of wearing them, as well as what to look for when buying your first pair.
Top 5 Compression Socks for Travel
1. Physix Gear for Men and Women
When it comes to long-term durability and comfort, these Physix Gear for Men and Women compression socks are a top choice. They feature stay-put cuffs to prevent rolling, as well as breathable Lycra material for maximum comfort. These also come in more than 15 different color combinations to suit your style.
2. Go2 Compression Socks
Many travelers enjoy that Go2 Compression Socks come with a 100% money-back guarantee. They’re also made of odor-fighting and breathable materials for comfort and freshness, even on long flights. They even come in a wide variety of fun prints and colors for those looking to make a statement.
3. Dr. Scholl’s Travel Knee-High Socks
Dr. Scholl’s has been a trusted brand in foot-care for many years, and these travel knee-high compression socks are no exception. These are made of both nylon and Lycra-Spandex material for maximum comfort; they also feature mild compression (10-15mmhg), making them an ideal option for regular travelers who are looking for a gentle compression that can still help to promote circulation, especially while flying.
4. Acel Designer Compression Socks
Looking to step out in style? These Acel Designer Compression Socks could be the perfect choice for you; these offer graduated compression with a designer look that will boost your confidence while traveling. They also feature moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry and comfortable, as well as a cushioned sole for impact-absorption.
5. QUXIANG Copper Compression Socks
Frequent travelers may benefit from purchasing a multi-pack of compression socks so they can avoid extra laundry; these QUXIANG Copper Compression Socks come with four pairs and are available in a wide range of color combinations. Made of copper-infused nylon, these socks can help to boost circulation while offering gentle compression.
Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks While Traveling
For regular travelers especially, there are a number of potential advantages of wearing compression socks.
Prevent or Reduce Leg Swelling
If you tend to experience swelling in your legs and/or feet following a long flight, then compression socks may be able to help. Specifically, compression socks are designed to apply graduated pressure to your legs. This pressure is thought to help improve the flow of both blood and fluids in the legs, which can reduce instances of swelling. Because dehydration is common in travelers and can also lead to leg swelling, it is also recommended that you drink plenty of water while traveling and avoid overly salty foods for the best results.
Possibly Prevent Blood Clots
Those who spend a lot of time flying, especially on longer flights, may be more prone to a serious medical condition known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) blood clot; these large clots can form in the legs and eventually break off before moving to the heart and causing life-threatening health problems. When you wear compression socks, the pressure applied to the legs may help to improve overall blood flow to reduce the risk of clotting.
Keep Your Feet Warmer
It’s no secret that being on a plane can be uncomfortable for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is an overall lack of temperature control; while overhead fans/vents can help to cool down a warm plane, there isn’t much that can be done to warm you up if you’re cold on a plane. However, wearing compression socks can help to keep your feet and legs warm, which in turn can help to warm the rest of your body. This, in addition to wearing layers on a plane, can help you stay as comfortable as possible on your next flight.
Made to Suit Your Sense of Style
If you tend to imagine plain, boring styles when you think of compression socks, think again. Compression sock design and style have come a long way in the last few years, especially now that so many frequent travelers are wearing them for the potential health benefits that they may offer.
Today, you can find compression socks in just about any color imaginable, as well as in a wide range of patterns and other fun styles. As a result, you can find a pair of compression socks that suits your unique sense of style and makes you feel more confident as you step onto the plane or pack them into your suitcase or carry-on luggage.
Possible Drawbacks of Wearing Compression Socks
While there are many potential benefits of wearing compression socks, there are also some possible drawbacks to consider as well.
Can Be Uncomfortable if Improperly Sized
For starters, be sure to understand the importance of proper sizing when ordering compression socks—especially if you’ll be ordering them online rather than buying in-person. Compression socks are designed to create pressure on the legs, but if you’re wearing socks that are too small, they could be downright uncomfortable and too constricting.
The good news is that compression sock sizing is typically pretty consistent; for most brands, you buy based on your shoe size. This will help to ensure a proper and comfortable fit.
Can Cause Itchiness and Dry Skin
Depending on the quality of the fabric out of which your compression socks are made, you may find that they’re itchy or cause dry skin when worn for long periods of time. This may be especially true of harsher materials that may scratch the skin with repeated wear. Wearing compression socks during dry times of the year, such as during the winter months, can compound these issues.
The key to avoiding itchiness and dry skin with compression socks is to shop around for fabrics that are breathable and smooth, such as Lycra. Moisture-wicking materials can also help to prevent sweating and bacteria growth that could lead to chafing, rashes, and other discomfort.
May Clash With Your Outfit
Unless you’re careful about the colors and styles you choose while shopping for compression socks, they could clash with your wardrobe. While compression sock styles have come a long way in the past few years, they are still far from the most fashionable component of most wardrobes. With this in mind, you may find that you need to change out of your socks shortly after landing—especially if you have a business function or other formal event to attend.
How to Choose the Best Compression Socks for Travel
Now that you’ve had a chance to weigh the advantages and potential drawbacks of wearing compression socks while traveling, have you decided to try some out for yourself? If so, then we recommend that you begin with our list of top five compression socks. As you shop, there are some other tips worth keeping in mind that will ultimately help you make the best purchase for your unique needs.
Decide on the Right Height
While most people think of knee-high socks when they think of compression socks, the truth is that these socks come in a wide range of height options. Some come all the way up to the thighs for additional compression, whereas others come just up to the ankle or calf. Ultimately, the higher the socks come up, the more compression and pressure you’ll experience. There are even compression leggings available for those who want maximum compression. Decide on the height that’s right for your needs and you’ll be able to significantly narrow down your options right off the bat.
Consider Styles and Colors
If appearance is important to you, you’ll also want to make sure you find a compression sock brand that comes in a wide range of colors and styles. Keep in mind that there are even “designer” compression socks if you really want to make a statement. If you’ll be wearing your socks with leggings or pants, you generally won’t need to worry too much about how they look. However, if you’ll be wearing your compression socks with shorts or capris, then they’ll be much more visible and thus the color or style may be more important.
Many people opt for neutral and solid colors for their compression socks, as these tend to be more versatile and can thus be worn with a wide range of outfits. However, if you really want to stand out, you might consider a bolder color or pattern for your compression socks.
Choose the Correct Size
Your compression socks aren’t going to do you much good if they’re the wrong size. Make sure you order your socks based on the measurements provided or based on your shoe size, depending on the brand. Most compression sock brands allow you to size based on your shoe size, which makes it easier to order online.
Still, if you’re ordering online from a platform that offers free returns, it may be worth it to buy a couple of different sizes so that you can try them on in your home and simply return the ones that are too big or too small. If your socks are too large, they’re likely to slip and won’t offer the right level of compression/pressure. On the other hand, if they’re too small, they’re going to be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
What About Pressure?
Compression socks are also available in differing levels of compression. If you look, you’ll see that most socks offer an mmHg compression rating, which stands for millimeters of Mercury. This is the same unit used to measure blood pressure. The higher the mmHg, the more compression offered. If you’re shopping for compression socks for travel, you’ll probably want to opt for a pair that offers light to moderate compression, which would range from about 10-20 mmHg.
Don’t Overlook Materials
The materials out of which your compression socks are made can be extremely important. A soft, breathable material is a must if you want comfortable long-term wear. Some popular material options for compression socks include Lycra and Spandex, as these are stretchy yet breathable materials that will help to wick moisture away and keep you dry. Always be sure to choose a material you’ll be comfortable in and make sure the material from which your socks are made is easily laundered. After all, you don’t want to have to make a special trip to the dry cleaner to launder your compression socks.
Opt for the Best Value
In general, compression socks don’t cost very much unless you’re opting for a designer brand or a premium luggage brand. Still, prices can range quite a bit depending on materials and other factors. Ultimately, it’s worth spending a little more on quality socks that will last you for many years rather than opting for the cheapest pair you can find and needing to replace them a few months down the road due to tearing or unraveling. Take time to read customer reviews and consider buying from a brand that offers a money-back guarantee so you can enjoy the ultimate confidence with your purchase.
The Bottom Line on Compression Socks for Travel
If you do a lot of air traveling, then you could probably benefit from wearing compression socks on flights. Even if you don’t experience leg pain or noticeable swelling, compression socks can help to boost circulation and may reduce your risk of developing blood clots on long flights. And with all this information, you can now choose a pair of compression socks with confidence!