10 Best Compression Running Socks Tested & Reviewed
Searching for the best Compression Running socks? Take a look at our test and review, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them in a store!
When you think of compression socks, you might think of senior citizens with health problems, like poor circulation, or people that stand on their feet all day at work. You might think about compression gear as a bit of a surplus requirement for a runner, but then again if this is your opinion you’ve probably never tried them. Particularly if you’re a runner who has struggled with injuries, a good pair compression socks can be a godsend. They have much to offer in terms of performance, recovery, and injury prevention.
Below is a brief list we’ve put together of the best compression running socks available on the market today. Enjoy.
How To Put on Compression Socks Easily
1. MudGear OCR
The compression in these socks is provided by 168 needlepoint compression. It is graduated, so the pressure is greatest around your ankle and lessened around your calf.
These socks were made to stand up to the toughest obstacle course races, so in addition to being made of ultra breathable fabric, they have been designed to drain quickly, shedding water from your feet and shoe. Users says that when running through water, these socks do not hold the water and don't feel heavy when wet.
These socks are made of abrasion resistant fabric to keep your legs cut and bruise free in obstacle course races (think rope climbs, etc.).
These have a layer of padding along the lower leg to provide extra protection from debris and obstacles. Users say that no matter what conditions they wore these socks through, they did not slip!
These are priced a bit above average for compression socks.
- Consistent applied pressure throughout reduces muscle fatigue and lessens recovery time
- Exceptional airflow, even through the heavier duty construction
- Durable construction, designed for use in more intense types of running environments
- Specifically designed for off-road & obstacle course racing
- Well over 600 positive reviews from satisfied users
- Slightly thicker than other normal compression socks
2. Physix Gear Sport
These socks provide graduated compression at 20-30 mmHH. They will provide relief to tired legs, reduce swelling, and improve circulation. Some users felt these were a little too tight around the top of their calf, however.
Made of a nylon blend, these socks are breathable and wick moisture away from your legs. They also fight bacteria and fungus.
The firm yet flexible fit of these socks provides support to your arches, toes, ankles, and calves.
Stay-put cuffs keep these socks up around your calves during running or any other physical activity. These are durable socks, according to users, and can last through long road runs, rugged trail runs, or even a Tough Mudder.
These are priced slightly above the average for compression socks.
- Relatively low cost
- Moisture wicking
- Variety of colors
- Supportive fit with arch compression
- Some users found these to be tight in the calves
3. Danish Endurance
These socks provide 18-21 mgHH of constant pressure from your ankle to your calf, which aids in increased blood flow, better performance, and quicker recovery. It also provides relief from pain and swelling.
The 95% Polyamide and 5% Elasthane construction of these socks makes them incredibly light and breathable. They wick moisture away from your feet helping to prevent foot ailments like hot spots and blisters, and aids in the elimination of odors.
The anatomical fit and strategically placed padding allow these socks to provide arch and plantar support, while also protecting you from blister and other painful foot conditions. Don't worry- the padding is ventilated as to not compromise the breathability of these socks.
These socks have been wear tested by Olympic Athletes and Navy Seals in the harshest conditions, so they are definitely durable enough to last through many of your longest runs.
These are priced below average for compression socks.
- Great support all over the foot.
- Great comfort.
- Keep your feet dry.
- Good durability.
- An excellent overall compression sock.
- Compression socks are priced higher than standard socks in general
4. Vitalsox VT1211
These socks apply pressure beginning at the mid foot, which is different from most other compression socks. VitalSox researchers found that for runners and other athletes, this is the ideal starting point for compression. The greatest pressure is applied from the mid foot to the ankle.
Made with lightweight Silver Drystat, a fabric which is unique to VitalSox, these socks are not only breathable, but also wick moisture and fight odors. Teh quick drying polypropylene helps fight fungus and bacteria as well.
These socks, in addition to improved circulation and recovery times, also provide arch and plantar support. Users say their feet and legs felt great, even after standing all day, when wearing these socks.
These socks are available in 12 colors and multiple sizes. The company says they run a bit large.
These are average priced compression socks.
- Made from DRYSTAT, designed to kill bacteria and fungus, while wicking moisture away
- Good arch compression & support
- Lightly padded
- Runs a bit large
5. Zensah Tech +
These socks provide graduated compression, which means there is more pressure in the ankle and less in the calf. This helps prevent shin splints and leg cramps by increasing blood flow to the lower part of your leg.
Made of 82% Polyamide and 18% Elastane, this "Zensah Fabric" blend is not only breathable, but fights bacteria and helps regulate your body temperature by keeping your feet and lower legs cool and dry.
Your calf receives extra support from the ergonomic mesh panel built into the back of these socks. Ultra-Zone Ribbing provides firm yet flexible stability to your ankle and arch.
The toe and heel are both cushioned and seamless to ensure a comfortable fit. A no-slip cuff has been placed at the top of the sock to prevent slipping. Some users report that these socks began to wear after just one month of use.
These are an above average priced pair of compression socks.
- Ideal for those who want slightly less compression
- Improved Circulation and faster recovery
- Increased muscle support
- Material is anti-odor and ultra-breathable
- Not enough for those who expected a higher level of compression
These socks don't just offer general compression like other brands. They have a kinesiology tape influence design which is meant to distribute pressure where you need it most as well as provide support to your legs and feet. The k-tape design specifically wraps around the ankle and across the top of the foot.
These are made of Power+ Premium Performance Fabric. It is breathable and flexible.
Stay-put cuffs and a seamless toe and heel make these socks comfortable against your skin. The circular knit pattern increases durability and flexibility. These socks are available in 4 colors and 2 sizes.
These are average priced compression socks.
- Stay in place
- Bright and neutral colors
- May be too narrow for users with larger calf muscles
These socks provide the typical range of 20-30 mmHH of pressure from your ankle to your calf. The compression is graduate, so it lessens as the sock moves higher up your leg. In addition to better circulation, this type of pressure also helps prevent lactic acid build up in your lower leg. Users comment that they found the compression of these socks to be tighter than others they have worn.
The company does not list the specific materials of which these socks are made, other than saying it is breathable and anti-itch. Users have not commented positively or negatively on the breathability of these socks.
CompressionZ says that these socks are designed to provide support to your heel, arch, and metatarsals. Users comment that these socks left their feet feeling great, even after a long run or spending all day on their feet at work.
These are the only compression socks available in bright and colorful patterns.
These are an above average priced pair of compression socks.
- Bright and colorful
- Some users found that the designs left indentations on their calves
These socks provide compression that is appropriate for performance and/or recovery. The sock has been designed with gradient zone compression panels to optimize the graduated compression between your ankle and calf.
Made of high filament nylon and elastane yarn, these socks quickly wick moisture away from your foot and leg to the outside of the fabric so it can be evaporated. These socks also have zoned breathability panels to promote ventilation and airflow.
The snug yet flexible PWX Compression Fabric of which these socks are made provides firm support to every part of your body that is enclosed in the sock- arch, achilles, calf, ankle, and shin.
These socks are available in 18 color choices, and have been designed to fit a woman's physique.
These are average priced compression socks.
- Designed for women
- Moisture wicking
- Available in 18 colors
- Designed for women (sorry guys!)
- Some users found them difficult to put on
9. CEP Progressive+ 2.0
These socks provide consistent pressure through unique fabric design. The threads of the fabric wrap around your leg over 400 times to give you precise compression to the millimeter.
Made of 85% polyamide and 15% spandex, these socks breathe well, and fight odors and bacteria. The moisture wicking property of this fabric blend and the ribbed design helps keep your feet cool, dry, and free of blisters and hot spots.
These socks mold to your feet and legs to provide all around support. The micro fibers, especially in the calf area, provide stability and support, which helps avoid calf injuries like tears and shin splints.
These socks have a stay put band at the top of the calf to help keep them in place as your run.
These are a high priced pair of compression socks.
- Proprioceptive support to cushion the ankle/arch
- Medical grade 20-30mmHg compression for maximum output
- 85% polyamide/15% spandex
- Anatomical foot design to prevent friction
- Color variety, including reflective options
- Helps avoid shin splints, muscle soreness and wear/tear
- Users say these are very tight and too long
10. MoJo Elite
These socks apply 20-30 mmHH of medical grade graduated compression from your ankles to your calves. The compression is tightest around the ankle and gradually lessens as it moves up your calf to increase blood circulation and oxygen delivery.
These socks are made of thinner fabric than other MoJo socks, which allows for better airflow. They are made of 70% nylon and 30% Lyrca spandex.
In addition to compression, these socks provide runners with ankle and ligament support because of the firm yet flexible spandex fabric construction.
A seamless toe box increases the comfort of these socks, as well as helps minimize the occurrence of blisters and hot spots. A reinforced toe and heel increase the durability of the socks, and a two inch top band help them stay in place. Users note that these still fall down, even with the top band feature.
These are an average priced pair of compression socks.
- Thicker padding for increased oxygen delivery
- Specifically engineered to meet foot/leg contours
- Eye catching & stylish design
- Extra cushioning + moisture wicking material
- Users report slipping
Compression socks can help increase your circulation, reduce injuries and provide support to your muscles/joints. If you get heavy legged at times, try a pair of compression socks to test out the difference. If you live in a cold climate getting some good quality compression on your skin is especially important, as it helps keep your muscles loose and ready to run.
The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation Of The Best Compression socks for running
Do they offer consistent pressure?
The whole purpose of compression wear is to provide consistent levels of pressure to specific areas of the body, in this case the feet and lower legs. Realizing the effects of compression socks when worn for DVT (deep vein thrombosis), this type of wear soon became popular with runners as a way to improve blood flow. To have the desired result, the socks must compress the limb consistently all the way around, providing an equal level of pressure throughout.
Another positive effect of consistent pressure is the ability to better control muscle vibration during intense runs or exercise. This can also aid in preventing stress injuries from long and intensive activities.
Consistent pressure can be applied by the socks in a variety of ways. The thread pattern can be used to create consistent pressure, as can specially-engineered panels placed in strategic areas around the sock. K-tape design is also becoming popular in compression socks, as it helps apply consistent pressure while also providing support.
Firm enough support
The provided support must be and remain firm throughout wearing the socks. This will help with that aspect of evenly maintained pressure, mentioned above.
Lasting firm support also tends to be a sign of well made and properly constructed materials, offering the necessary control and performance ability which the product is intended to provide, in order to help with preventing injuries and avoidable stress.
Firm support also helps prevent and relieve other ailments, such as plantar fasciitis, and ensures that your arch is properly supported as you run.
They must fit correctly in order to perform as effectively as intended. The whole point of wearing compression socks is to have a fit which is not constrictive, but tight enough to provide the correct amount of compression.
The socks should remain conformed to the lower leg all the way up to above the calf, staying tightly in place and not sagging, bunching or falling down. The proper fit is crucial to the product’s successful functionality.
Often times a sock that, no matter is you have the right size, just will not stay in place or keeps falling down, is many times due to being poorly constructed or made of lower quality materials. This would definitely affect the repeated use and effectiveness of the socks.
One feature that helps ensure a proper fit are stay-put cuffs, located at the top of the sock. Many compression socks have such cuffs to help prevent slippage, bunching, or sagging.
Are they breathable enough?
Here is something which is repeated all the time, when discussing all kinds of running products and apparel. Running gear has to allow airflow in order to keep the runner comfortable and efficient, and compression gear is really no different.
Though the materials the socks are constructed with must have durable elasticity, there should be a decent mixture of breathable textiles as well.
This not only allows much more comfortable wear, but also, more importantly prevent bacterial issues from built up sweat and moisture. Breathability is also crucial to help your body regulate its temperature naturally.
Do they provide warmth?
It does involve the obvious of providing a thermal barrier, keeping the feet and lower legs warm in colder climates, but also goes a little further than that.
Keeping the limbs warm during activity allows the muscles to stay loose, preventing injuries caused by putting stress on constricted muscles. In addition to vibration control, compression socks also provide a small amount of insulation, keeping the muscles warm and loose during the run.
More important information to consider when searching for compression socks
Do you need to wear them?
Is compression gear right for you? That is something which you’ll need to determine. If you push yourself hard during a run, the compression and support can help quite a bit with running through the next day recovery.
Originally used to help treat Deep Vein Thrombosis, the pressure, when applied correctly, will help to increase blood flow. This allows blood to easily travel to the areas which are stressed and worked out during your long runs.
They do apply constant pressure to the feet and lower legs, so that is one thing that you’ll need to expect, and get used to if you plan on continuous use. If you aren’t used to or typically like to wear slightly constrictive under garments, this will certainly take some time to get accustomed to.
How tight is too tight?
Well, if your limbs turn blue, your socks are probably a little to constrictive. This really touches on what we mentioned earlier about consistent pressure.
You’ll want the socks to be consistently tight throughout. This means you will want to avoid pairs that are much tighter at the top, above the calf. A top fit that feels like a stretched rubber band around your leg is not an ideal fit, and can actually decrease or restrict the bloodflow to your lower legs, which is the opposite of what compression socks are intended to do.
It is really something that you will notice immediately after you put them on. If you have areas of the socks which fit much tighter, to the point of being noticeably uncomfortable and leaving a deep mark on the leg, that is too tight. They will have a tighter fit than you would get from regular running socks, however, the tightness should be the same level throughout the sock.
Get the sizing right
Since you are purchasing these to provide targeted benefits, sizing becomes even more important. You don’t want them to be too small, just as you don’t want them to be too big.
If you wear a size that is too large, you will receive none of the benefits from applying compression to the lower legs.
On the other end, buying a pair that is too small will put you in something which fits way too tight and uncomfortable. This would completely defeat the entire purpose of wearing compression gear. And, beyond being incredibly uncomfortable, it could lead to other issues after repeated use.
So, like with almost all running clothes, correct sizing is a very important aspect to consider. Be sure you check out the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines, as well as user reviews, to ensure that you select the proper size sock for your leg and feet.
This might seem silly to consider, but the color of your socks is really important, especially if you are an outdoor runner and they are a visible part of your running outfit.
Some compression socks are only available in dark or neutral colors, like black and gray. More and more manufacturers are making compression socks in bright colors and even with reflective details. This makes running outside, especially at dusk or in the evening, safer, because you will be more visible to drivers on the road. So, if your socks are a visible part of your running attire on a regular basis, you should definitely consider increasing your safety on the road by purchasing brightly colored and/or reflective compression socks.
In order to offer as much assistance and guidance as possible, we have gathered some frequently asked questions that others are asking when purchasing compression socks for running.
Q: I bought some compression socks, but they are really uncomfortable. Are they supposed to be so painful to wear?
A: They should not be painful to wear. A fit that is too tight would be counter productive to their intended benefits. Rather than increase blood flow to your lower leg as they should, a compression sock that is too tight will restrict blood flow. In this case the sizing should be checked to ensure that you are buying the correct size. You will feel compression, but they should not cut off circulation or be so tight that they are causing pain.
Q: How high should they go up on my legs?
A: Socks that go up just below the knees and above the calves are ideal, as that length covers and provides compression to the working and often stressed muscles of the lower legs. However, there are some products which are available in different lengths. You should choose the length that provides the benefits of compression to the areas that need it most.
Q: Can I wear compression clothing as an insulating layer?
A: Though that is not what they are normally intended for, they do by their nature provide some amount of insulation, but are really meant to keep the muscles warm and loosened up. However, this bonus feature certainly does allow them to be worn as an insulating layer under running clothes. Since they are a sock, and usually a high sock at that, they can be considered to provide an extra layer of warmth to your lower leg.
Q: I would imagine that these types of socks are thin and don’t offer much underfoot cushioning like i am used to with my regularly used pairs for running. Are there options which also offer extra cushioning?
A: Of course, like most other things, companies find ways to evolve their products to meet the needs of many. There are certainly brands which offer models with cushioning. One product that we have on our list which fits this need is Zensah’s Tech +. Research what different compression sock manufacturers have to offer- many have different models of compression socks that offer varying features, such as added cushioning.
Q: How bad will my feet sweat in these type of socks?
A: One thing that needs to be paid attention to is breathability. This is something which is important to just about all athletic apparel. Compression clothing should never be an exception. If you pay attention to the materials that different pairs are constructed of, making sure you go with the products made with lightweight and breathable materials. This will help your body to naturally regulate its temperature and keep your feet and legs cool and dry, which helps prevent build up of bacteria or fungus and the formation of blisters and hot spots.
Q: I have seen compression socks that say that have a k-tape design. What does this mean and do I need it?
A: K-tape, or kinesiology tape, is designed to provide support to muscles that are weak or injured, or to prevent injury from happening. It is specially designed to stick to your skin and lift the muscle to a placement that maximizes its use and strength without causing injury (or further injury).
Compression socks with a k-tape design do not stick to your skin like actual tape. They contain specially engineered panels that provide support in a pattern similar to what would be provided by k-tape. Most k-tape compression socks provide this extra support around the ankle and across the top of the foot.
Your need for them depends on how much ankle and foot support your require. If you have had previous ankle or foot injuries, or experience fatigue or weakness in these areas, k-tape design compression socks may be something you want to try.
This pretty much covers that basics of what should be considered when shopping for compression socks that will be used for running. Hopefully the information proves to be helpful in your search for the best gear.
Here are some sources we used while conducting our research
As we try to dig deep to find the best information, we tend to find quite a few good sources which provide some really helpful knowledge . Here are some of those sources.
- Do Compression Socks Really Work? , Running website, Dec 11, 2013 ,
- Effect of compression stockings on running performance in men runners., Clinical publication, ,
- Is Compression for Competition or Running Recovery?, Outdoor / fitness website, Dec 02, 2014 ,
- Compression Gear: Hype of Helpful?, Running enthusiast website, Dec 10, 2010 ,
- The Compression Sportswear Craze, Men's health publication, ,