This might seem obvious, but compression socks are not the same as regular socks, which means that their sizes are different. When you’re trying to determine your compression sock size, you need to consider a few different factors, like your overall height and the size of your calf. Since compression socks are supposed to be tighter than regular socks, you also need to be able to know how tight is TOO tight. If that all feels a little overwhelming to you, don’t worry: we’re going to break down how to find the right fit for you step-by-step.
1. First Thing’s First: Refer to the Experts
Keep in mind that one of the best ways you can determine what size compression sock you need is to refer to your manufacturer’s website. They’re going to be able to tell you which of their socks fits you best, especially since one brand’s “small” could be another’s “medium.” There is no “one size fits all” in the world of compression! Look for a size guide on the brand’s website, either in the “About Us” section or in the specific product’s description.
Another expert to ask is your doctor. If you have certain medical conditions that require compression socks, your physician may take your measurements in the office to determine the best compression sock brand and size for you. Even if you don’t require a prescription, you can ask your doctor for insight and recommendations to try and choose the best compression sock.
2. Take Your Measurements
When you buy regular socks, you choose your size based on your shoe size. For compression socks, you also need to measure your calf girth. Keep in mind that, to get the most accurate measurements, you should measure yourself first thing in the morning, before you’ve had anything to eat or drink.
If you’d like to double-check your foot size, get a piece of paper that’s larger than your foot, a pencil, and a ruler. With your heel against a wall, trace an outline of each foot, and then use a ruler to measure the length from heel to toe and width from the widest part of your foot to another. Write down those measurements and then compare them to a foot size chart!
To do so, you’ll need a tape measure or a long piece of string that you can lay beside a yardstick for reference. If you’re using a tape measure, wrap it around the widest part of your calf with the inches facing outward so that you (or someone helping you) can see the numbers. If you’re using a piece of string, make sure you’re able to mark the circumference of your calf accurately, and then lay it out beside a yardstick to determine how many inches long it is. Once you have that number, write it down.
Take a second to measure the circumference of your ankle, while you’re at it. Not every compression sock brand includes ankles in their size guides, but it’s better to have more information than you need than to not have enough. To accurately measure the ankle, measure the circumference of the smallest part of the leg just above the ankle bone.
Another part of your leg you should measure is the height from the flat of your foot to the bend of your knee. To do so, simply sit in a chair and measure from the floor to the very top of your calf, where the bend behind the knee starts. This will provide you with the length of your calf.
Some websites recommend measuring your height as well. If you visit your doctor regularly, you might know this number off the top of your head, but if you don’t, it’s as easy as standing feet flat against a wall, with proper posture, and either holding a tape measure up to see how many inches tall you are or making a mark on the wall at the top of your head and measuring how high the mark is after you step away.
3. Try Them On and Test Them Out
Once you’ve gotten permission from your doctor to wear compression socks, and once you have all the measurements you could ever need, you can either go to a compression sock manufacturer in person or start browsing online. The benefit of going in person is that you can try pairs on before you buy them, which allows you to walk out of the store feeling confident with your purchase. If you order your socks online, your buying process might require a little more time and patience.
The most important thing to consider when trying on compression socks is that they should fit you snugly without feeling like they’re squeezing the life out of you. This is especially true if you’re buying compression socks that don’t require a prescription. Compression socks come in different pressures, and while certain medical conditions require higher levels of pressure, standard compression socks should feel like they’re giving your calves a gentle hug. If your legs hurt from wearing them, they’re not the right size. When in doubt, though, go back to step one and talk to your sock manufacturer AND your doctor. When it comes to blood circulation, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Make sure that your socks aren’t bunching, and make sure you don’t need to fold the tops up or down to get them to fit. If they’re too long, they could cause serious health issues if worn for too long. If you’re especially short, you should talk to your doctor to find a brand that can make socks to fit your specific needs.
When you’re trying to find compression socks that will fit you, it’s important to consult your doctor and your sock manufacturer’s size guide, take all the measurements you need, and then try them on to see how they fit. Once you find the right compression socks for you, you’ll probably never go back.