What Size Compression Socks Do I Need?

What Size Compression Socks Do I Need?

Wearing compression socks, compression stockings, and compression leggings can make a huge difference in the management of vein disease and lymphedema. There are strong findings in the medical literature that compression garments can reduce the severity of sleep apnea. Wearing the right compression socks can reduce itching, burning, redness, swelling, oozing, muscle cramps, leg pain, and even snoring. But three out of four people who could benefit from compression garments don’t wear them. Why is that?

A lot of the reasons people don’t use the compression socks and stocking they need come down to choosing the wrong size:

      • Vein disease patients choose socks that are too small and suffer even more itching, burning, and pain that before.

      • With lymphedema patients, the problem is more likely to be that they have compression socks and stockings that are too large. Lymphedema patients get a great result from their socks for a while. But as their therapy works and they no longer need plus size compression stockings or plus size compression leggings, staying with old pairs that don’t fit slowly wipes out all the progress they have made.

      • Damp, oozing “exudation lesions” are particularly sensitive to the compression garment size. Wearers need to start with the right size to keep oozing under control.

      • And no matter what the sizing issue, many people aren’t financially able to keep buying more and more compression socks and compression legging. Compression socks and compression stockings are non-returnable. If wearers don’t get the size right the first time, there just may not be enough money in the budget to get more.

So, how can you be sure that you are getting the precise size compression socks that your need? First, you need to get familiar with the different sizes for compression socks.

You always need to take measurements to find the right size compression socks.

Compression socks are worn knee-high, over the legs beneath the knees. Compression stockings provide pressure over both the lower legs and the thighs. They are worn thigh-high over the knees, but not all the way up to the hips. Sizing is based on measurements of the legs before treatment as follows:

  • Knee-high socks only require measuring the circumference of your ankle and calf.
  • Thigh-high stockings require measurements of the circumference of your ankle, calf, and thigh, as do waist-high. Maternity, and chaps style compression stockings.
  • Any kind of compression socks or stockings also requires measuring length.

There are some simple rules for taking accurate and useful leg measurements for compression socks and compression stockings. You will need to take your measurements in centimeters, not in inches. All you have to do is to flip the tape measure over to the side where the units of measurement are smaller. A centimeter is a little less than half of an inch.

It is best to take your measurements when you first get up in the morning. This is so you will get measurements of your legs with the least amount of swelling, which you aim to maintain by wearing your socks.

Take your measurements while you are standing. If you do your measurements while you are sitting down, you probably won’t have the tape snug against your skin, and you may wind up getting compression garments that are too big for you.

Don’t measure over socks or slacks. Your compression socks or stockings will fit snugly over your skin, so you want to do your measurements over bare skin.

Where you do your measurements also makes a difference:

  • To accurately measure your ankle circumference, measure at the narrowest point, directly above your ankle bone.
  • To get a useful measurement of your calf, you need to measure the circumference of your calf at the widest point.
  • Also make sure to measure your thigh at the widest point.
  • Next, you need to measure for length. For knee-high compression socks, measure from the floor (you should be barefoot) to the bend of the knee. For thigh-high compression stockings, measure from the floor up to your gluteal fold, just below your hips.

Everyone needs help taking measurements for thigh-highs. It is a lot easier for someone else to take your measurements for compression socks than to measure yourself.

What is proper sizing for compression socks?

Once you get your measurements, you will have the numbers you need to find out whether you need small, medium, large, X-large, large and tall, large full calf, or X-large full socks or stockings.


A201 Size Chart

The Large-Tall size is for people who wear a shoe size of 12 or higher. You can also get a general idea of the size your need from just your height and weight, but you won’t get as good a fit.

  • If you are 4’10” to 5’7” and you weigh between 90 and 145 pounds, you may need a small size.
  • If you are 5’-0” to 5’9” and you weigh between 105 and 170 pounds, you may need medium.
  • If you are 5’2” to 5’10” and you weigh between 140 and 200 pounds, the best size for you may be large.
  • If you are over 5’10” and you weight 180 pounds, you may need X-large.

But relying on height and weight charts alone will never get you the best fit, and you may be disappointed with your purchase.

Just a word about compression sock marketing terms

When you are shopping for compression socks, you may come across labels such as plus size compression stockings, plus size compression leggings, women’s plus size socks, plus size compression socks, and extra wide calf compression socks. Never assume that what you need is a “plus” or “extra wide” size unless you have done your measurements and they don’t fit on the chart above. For a snug fit that relieves your symptoms, it’s important to buy compression socks and compression stockings that are the right size, not too large, and not too small.