Why Compression Socks?

a person wearing black socksIn all of my “long flight comfort” posts, I list compression socks. Wearing them on a long flight can be very beneficial on a lot of levels. Stylish? Not exactly. Super comfortable? Not so much. But worth it? Absolutely.  They are great because they basically help keep your circulation going  in your feet, legs, and ankles. From ClotCare.com:

In your leg veins, blood must flow upward to the heart. Graduated compression stockings apply a certain amount of pressure near your ankle and then apply gradually less and less pressure as they move up the leg. In this way, they help to squeeze or push blood back up the leg from the ankle to the thigh in an effort to counteract pooling of blood in the leg and the resultant swelling.

The two main benefits, related to travel, are that they will:

  • Keep you from swelling.Long flights, or a lot of flying in a short amount of time, can make your feet, legs, and ankles swell. This can be uncomfortable, especially if it gets to the point where your shoes are too tight. I have had some pretty severe swelling in the past, but when I flew to Manila with compression socks on my feet and ankles were barely bigger than normal. Even with the 25 hours of travel time.
  • Help prevent DVT. Deep Vein Thrombosis can cause blood clots in the legs, which leads to painful, red, and swollen legs, and even possibly death.

It’s not always possible to find cute ones (although LuLu Lemon has some on occasion), but mine are black and go with most long flight clothing options. You can find them at many places, including Amazon and TravelSmith, for less than $20. A good deal for something so helpful!


  1. I always use compression socks on mid and longhaul flights and am surprised that most people don’t. I don’t really care if they are cute or not as I’m a guy and they are not visible anyway under my trousers.

    I think the statement “they help to squeeze or push blood back up the leg from the ankle to the thigh” is not really accurate. What actually happens is that the veins are compressed thus increasing the velocity of the blood flow and therefore reducing the probability for a DVT.

    Which also explains why very fit people such as athletes benefit even more from compression socks. Due to their reduced heart rates, their blood flow is even slower at rest, and they are therefore at a higher risk considering DVT’s compared to the average person.

  2. Walmart carries a brand called Medi-Ped that has a compression sock for less than $10.00.

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