The Anatomy of Compression Socks

How do compression socks work? What is a sandalfoot or a balloon toe? What’s the difference between a reciprocated and reinforced heel? This blog post covers aspects of compression socks to help you find the most beneficial compression sock for you.

The Basics:

Sockwell Compression Sock Diagram

Here is a diagram of a Sockwell compression sock. This sock uses triple zone graduated compression, which means you feel the most pressure at the ankle and decreases moving towards the top of the leg. Sockwell compression socks are made with Merino Wool for moisture management and natural thermoregulation, which is great for working out or for those with sweaty feet. The seamless toe closure is designed to prevent irritation and is ideal for diabetics or people with sensitive feet. These socks feature a reinforced heel and toe for durability.

What features should I look for in a compression sock?

Ease Compression Socks by Therafirm

The features you want in a compression sock depend on what you find most comfortable and beneficial to you. There is a large variety of options to choose from, including the fabric material, color choice, sheer or opaque styles, open or closed toe, and so on. Start by measuring to determine what size you need. Some socks and stockings are available in short and long lengths, petite, wide calf and plus sizes for the best fit. Depending on the fabric material and compression level, some garments can be softer and more stretchy than others.

If you are worried about wear and tear, look for socks with a reinforced toe for durability. These socks are designed to prevent your toes from sticking through or holes appearing from rubbing against your shoes. However, socks with a reinforced heel or toe may be visibly darker in these areas in order to be stronger to provide more protection to the stocking.

Allegro Essential - Sheer Support Knee Highs 15-20mmHg - # 16The Allegro Essential – Sheer Support Knee Highs (#16) feature a reciprocated heel and balloon toe for added comfort. A reciprocated heel is knitted in to the stocking and contoured for a better fit. This is so the garment feels more natural and and doesn’t wear out as fast. A balloon toe gives you more wiggle room, which is great for those with sensitive feet.



Allegro Essential - Sheer Support Knee High 08-15mmHg - #81

The Allegro Essential – Sheer Support Knee Highs (#81) feature a sandalfoot, meaning the reinforced area does not stand out from the rest of the stocking. Compare this knee high to the #16 stocking above. This extremely sheer stocking is perfect to wear with flats or sandals since there is no dark toe or heel area.


What is a silicone top band?

Most knee high compression socks feature a wide knit top band that sits comfortably below your knee without digging in or squeezing.  If you have trouble with your compression socks falling down or rolling, you can choose a sock that is made with a silicone top band that gives a bit of extra grip. The Juzo Soft 20-30mmHg Knee High features a silicone band at the top to comfortably keep them in place all day. This is a great option for people with larger calves or if you move around a lot throughout the day.

Jobst SoftFit Top BandIf you want the strength of silicone without the feeling, check out the Jobst SoftFit and Sensitive Bands. These high-tech, breathable bands are made by cleverly knitting silicone threads into the top band to give you the power of silicone with the comfort and softness of a knit band.

How do compression socks benefit athletes?

Coresport Athletic Compression Socks by Therafirm

The Core-Sport Compression Sock is made with a high-tech fabric that’s antimicrobial to prevent odor and also wicks moisture away from the skin while exercising. Core-Sport by Therafirm features arch protection for added support and a cushioned heel and foot to reduce impact. This sock provides 15-20mmHg graduated compression, which helps to increase circulation to reduce muscle fatigue and recovery time.

What’s the difference between compression socks and sleeves?

If you want the benefits of compression with the freedom to choose any shoe you want to wear, compression sleeves may be for you. However, to get the full benefits of recovery, compression socks are your go-to. Socks more effectively increase circulation to prevent and provide relief for swelling and fatigue, whereas sleeves only cover your ankle up to your knee. But for a nice run or when you hit the gym, compression sleeves are great to wear. Check out this great Zensah infographic to see what’s best for you:

Compression Socks or Sleeves?

Still have questions? Comment below!

The End of Slipping and Sliding – Jobst SoftFit and Medi Vitality

New compression stockings from Jobst and Mediven, with a totally new top-band, will put an end to slipping, sliding, and top-band strangulation.

Traditional knee highs with a grip-top have a top band sewn onto the sock that is covered on the inside with dots or strips of silicone.  This band never stretches as much as the stocking material, and the thickness of the silicone pushing into your skin can, for some, be quite uncomfortable.  The new band technology, uses individual threads of silicone that are knit into the top-band of the stocking. softfit-detailThese threads are very soft, and gently adhere to your skin.  Due to its superior gripping power, the tension of the top-band can be reduced.  You get a stocking that stays in place all day, without strangling your calf.

Jobst is calling their new band SoftFit.  It’s now available in their UltraSheer knee highs, in 15-20, 20-30, and 30-40mmHg compressions.  On the exterior, it looks just like a soft, knit UltraSheer top-band.  Inside you can see the fine strands of silicone.  Rub over them, and your skin sticks to the threads, but they feel very soft.  SoftFit knee highs are available in Natural and Black, and Full-Calf sizes.

Mediven is calling their new top-band mediGrip, and they have developed a totally new sock called Vitality to introduce this new technology.  Vitality is an opaque trouser sock with a contemporary herringbone pattern that will look great with a pair of dress pants or jeans.  Available in three colors, Charcoal, Chocolate, and Ebony, Vitality is offered in Regular and Petite lengths, for shorter legs.  Because compression stockings can dry your skin, Medi treats the Vitality fabric with lanolin.  This lanolin technology moisturizes your skin, and lasts the lifetime of the stocking.

So if your support stockings slip, slide, or strangle your calf, give one of these new stockings a try.