Best Compression Socks for Running | Men & Women


Have you ever seen another runner wearing a pair of compression socks and wondered why? There are many reasons to wear compression socks including comfort, to recover from injuries, to prevent medical conditions, and to improve your performance in different sports.

Over the years, compression socks have gotten a bad rap. Sexy is definitely not a word that would ever have been used to describe them. At one point, they could have been considered hosiery and certainly not something an athlete would be found dead in. Fortunately, times have changed, and compression socks have become very functional by improving blood flow and that is a great benefit for runners.

fitshit compression sock for running

Some of the advantages of wearing compression socks is that they can reduce pain and swelling, and lower your chance of having circulation problems. They are snug fitting socks that are stretchy and specially made to gradually squeeze your leg. They have tighter compression around your ankle and become looser as they go up.

compression socks also increase endurance, lessen recovery time, and reduce cramping. If you are interested in trying a pair, here are some tips to find the best compression socks for running and a few reviews to help you with your search.

What are compression socks?

Compression socks cover the area from your foot and leg all the way up to the knee. They give you support where you need it, and they lessen running-related injuries like plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

Compression socks work by directing moderate pressure on your legs. This pressure can help reduce the risk of blood clots after surgery, plus they can help heal ulcers on your legs and feet. Also, if you suffer from vein conditions like spider veins or varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, lymphedema, or phlebitis, your doctor may prescribe compression socks for you.

These types of stock may take a little time getting used to as well as a little finesse to get on. Some people may have a bit of a learning curve learning to put on compression socks, but it only takes a little practice and you’ll be getting in and out of them in no time.

Who uses compression socks?

Compression socks a good choice for people with circulation problems or that have diabetes. They are also good for:

  • Pregnant women
  • Recovery after surgery
  • People that are bedridden or can’t move their legs
  • People that stand all day
  • Athletes
  • Pilots

Benefits for Runners

Compression socks are still a good product for those with diabetes. However, doctors and scientist have discovered the benefits of compression socks for improving blood flow for athletes. There are quite a few benefits to wearing them as they help to increase recovery time after an injury, and, if you are running a race, compression socks will lessen cramping while improving your endurance. They also help those with poor circulation or that have tired muscles.

Besides improving blood circulation and preventing cramping, runners also see many other benefits of wearing compression socks.

  • Swelling: If you run for long periods of time, compression socks will help reduce swelling when you are on your feet all day on the trail.
  • Protection: Compression socks can also protect your legs from scratches and abrasions as well as poison ivy in case you encounter it on the trail.
  • Dirt: Instead of dirt collecting on your legs, it can collect on your socks.
  • Warmth: Compression socks are good on those cold days when you need a little extra warmth.

Vitalsox Graduated

One of the more popular pairs of compression socks is the Vitalsox. They are made from their own unique fiber called Drystat that is effective in controlling moisture, plus they lessen the possible growth of fungi and bacteria.

The VitalsoxVT1211 has performance graduated compression that is ideal for both racing and recovery with a graduated compression of 12-20 mm Hg.

This is a patented lightweight sock constructed of Silver DryStat that includes a footbed that is padded, plus a thin mesh stripe that runs from the top to the bottom of the sock on both sides. The compression not only supports the ligaments, heel, and arch, but it also helps stop blood from pooling.

The best part of these socks is the moisture control. The mesh and the lightweight fiber combined to give you superb ventilation and wicking. The Dry stat stops fungus and bacteria growth and creates a healthy environment that is dry and comfortable for your feet which mean fewer blisters. This is a runner’s race sock as it totally shuts down anything that can get in the way of your run.

The Vitalsox have mild compression that is gradual and you’ll feel it the mod at mid-foot to the very top of your ankle. You’ll get a boost in performance from the stimulated blood flow and increased circulation that will also reduce any swelling from your run.

This is the ideal sock that is designed to match the needs of the demands of athletes as well as the occasional runner.

Things We Like:

  • Comfortable and lightly padded
  • Great material, no signs of wear
  • Even with their thickness, feet will remain cool
  • Has arch support

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • A little on the expensive side
  • Sizes run tall
  • Limited compression
  • Can be a little hard to get on

2XU Women’s

Ladies, if you need a performance compression sock that is fun and functional, the 2XU Women’s Compression Performance Run Socks are for you. They come in a fun color assortment that includes hot pink/grey, fern green/lime green, vibrant blue/canary yellow, and candy pink/nectarine.

Features of the 2XU include improved moisture management and airflow. They also have a very tight pressure that is even and constant to lessen muscle fatigue and damage.

The 2XU are better used for running than as a recovery compression sock as they tend to not be as comfortable and a bit awkward just worn around the house. With their Lycra body, they have a lightweight high-denier ratio that will support your calf and shin to improve your running pose and posture. This allows you to move with better agility and greater speed while the material wicks moisture away.

Out of the all the compression socks on the market, these are a top contender for the best running compression socks. They may not give casual runners the same benefits as serious runners since they can bind in specific areas that may make a casual run a little uncomfortable. These are also very easy to put on compression socks.

Things We Like:

  • Reduces muscle fatigue
  • Helpful moisture management
  • Available in many colors
  • Improves your posture

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Very tight compression
  • Material may be a bit itchy for some
  • Can tend to bind during recovery

Injinji 2.0

If you are looking to boost circulation and reduce muscle soreness, the Injinji Compression Sock has a combined 5 Toe Fit System that gives you graduated lower leg compression. The Injini provides healing, and it has a terry heel that is padded to give you better support running downhill, plus it also helps when you are in recovery.

One of the Injinji’s main features is proper toe alignment that reduces blisters. It has a five-toe anatomical construction that provides your toes with a natural grip.

Muscle soreness in the lower legs and feet is reduced with the Injini’s compression elements and helps to increase circulation that promotes healing. If you are a downhill runner and you are tired of the sore heels that accompany it, the padded heel is perfect for you.

It not only gives you more support, it provides comfort as you are descending downhill. These are definitely a contender for best compression socks for runners with a design that assists with training and for their use healing your foot post-workout.

Things We Like:

  • Includes a five-toe anatomical design
  • Gives you proper toe alignment
  • Comfortable downhill padded heel

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Runs on the small side
  • May be a bit long for shorter legs
  • Can take a little effort to put on and off

CEP Men’s Progressive+ 2.0 Compression Run Socks

Guys, it’s your turn. The CEP Men’s Progressive Socks are some of the best all-around socks on the market. They rank among the highest selling and highest recommended compression sock products for a good reason. They can be used for both exercising as well as give you support when you are recovering. CEP Men’s Socks are made of filament fiber that also adds more life expectancy to the socks.

You barely feel the socks with their even compression zones, and they are even good during work hours for those that have to stand for long periods of time. During recovery, some may find their compression a little tight when walking around the office or home. Runners love them for their improved Achille’s heel protection where they can get wear on the heels of their feet, and cyclists love the arch support.

The CEP Men’s compression socks have just the right amount of compression to relieve those aches and pain and give you better circulation. They don’t restrict your movements and with the new dynamic footbed, you get just the right combination of support and comfort.

The arch support lessens fatigues and relieves the discomfort and pain you can get from plantar fasciitis. It is a stabilizing sock that helps to protect your ligaments and tendons, so they are a great choice for however long you plan to run.

Things We Like:

  • Doesn’t restrict movement
  • Has arch support
  • Has even compression zones
  • Available in several colors

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Heel material can bunch up
  • Runs a bit long
  • Doesn’t have any specialized wear

Zensah Tech+

Do you suffer from shin splints? Zensah compression socks can help prevent these types of injuries. These are true graduated compression socks that increase your blood circulation while helping to boost oxygen flow. You’ll see better performance and you will experience more comfort while you are working out and after.

Zensah Compression Socks have a unique ribbing design that gives you targeted support for your arch and ankle. This stabilizes your lower legs and feet. Zensah socks feature seamless technology that makes the socks comfortable while lessening your chance for blisters, irritation, and rubbing that seams usually cause. These socks come with a no-slip cuff to make sure your socks stay in the right place while you are running which is preferred by runners.

Zensah Compression Socks are ideal for runners by hitting all the support points they need. They are also good for cyclists and other athletes that want to increase their blood flow, have better oxygenation after vigorous activities, or are looking for a better recovery. The combination of Polyamide and Elastane fits over your arches, shins, and calves. They are a little difficult to put on, so expect a little bit of a workout in the process.

They have a very even compression, so you won’t feel a lot of the graduation at work as they compress. You won’t feel the blood moving up toward your knee, but you will feel some tightness around your ankle.

Things We Like:

  • True graduated compression, very tight
  • Has targeted arch and ankle support
  • Has an anti-slip cuff

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Anyone with small feet might find the foot area a little large
  • They may be too hot for some in warm weather
  • Can be difficult to put on

Soft Compression Socks 15-20 mmHg

When you are training for race and marathons, you can find yourself on the sideline if you suffer an injury like plantar fasciitis or shin splints. The Soft Compression Socks helps to increase recovery times and stop those irritating injuries that bother many runners.

They have 15-20 mm Hg graduated compression that will increase circulation, keep away annoying shin splints, leg pain, and calf cramps, and lessen recovery time, plus it reduces fatigue. There is also less friction and blisters because of the soft snug toe box and cradled heel.

This product from X31 Sports has a plush extra-padded sole that targets the heel and balls of the feet, increases sock absorption, and lessens the beating your legs will take during long runs. If you are prone to plantar fascia pain, the reinforced arch support is created to prevent it.

Your feet will also stay dry and comfortable with the moisture wicking microfiber (Nylon6). This very soft material is breathable and helps to control temperature, so your feet don’t get too hot which is a benefit for long runs when training for marathons.

The-20 mm Hg graduated compression is the ideal level of compression for athletes, especially if you are training or competing. Basketball, soccer, and running can really give your legs a beating and adding compression socks will help reduce the injuries associated with these sports.

Things We Like:

  • Does not add bulkiness or tightness
  • Reduce pain and swelling
  • Extra compression helps prevents cramps on long runs

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Tend to run on the long side


If you are looking for compression socks that will work in a variety of situations, the FIRELION feet and ankle compression socks work well for around the house, as well as athletes that run, hike, bike, fish, walk, or rock climb. They give you improved circulation with superb moisture management as well as support and comfort.

The FIRELION multifunctional compression stockings less muscle soreness and give you better blood oxidation which promotes faster recovery. These soft and comfortable socks are breathable, sweat-absorbent, and dry quickly.

If you are a runner, the FIRELION have a heel and toe protectors that lessen blistering, and the 15-30 mm HG compression gives runner powerful pressure to support your calves and give you relief from shin splints.

The FIRELION also stop varicose veins, lessen leg and foot swelling, and give you more muscle and tendon support. They are perfect for both sports and daily wear, especially if you are on your feet for long periods of time.

Things We Like:

  • Feet stay nice and dry
  • Durable with great compression
  • Easy to wear, well-made

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • A bit thick and heavy to use as a daily sock

FITSHIT Premium For Crossfit & Running

If you are looking to feel energized after a long day of activity, FITSHIT have a premium graduated compression that lessens muscle fatigue and injuries. They are perfect for everyday use making your legs feel refreshed and free of pain after standing all day or after a hard workout.

The FITSHIT is made from a high-grade fabric that includes moisture wicking plus anti-bacterial technology that stops bacteria and fungus growth. This technology also keeps your legs and feet dry and free of odor.

This Socks from FITSHIT proven to help support calf pain, ankle swelling, cramps, soreness, varicose veins and sports injury recovery. The 15-20 hh mg material blend has a high-quality grade compression that lessens fatigue and increases recovery time. Plus, form-fitted technology makes sure they fit perfectly and are easy to take on and off.

Things We Like:

  • Great quality with a good fit
  • Excellent construction and comfort
  • Hold up well to being worn, washed, and dried

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Run on the large side

2XU Men’s

When you think of compression socks, technically advanced is probably not a term that would first come to mind. However, that is exactly what you will find in the 2XU Men’s socks. They are one of the most technically advanced compression socks that you can buy making it a candidate for the best running compression socks.

They are created with breathability panels that are zoned to give you the most comfort and airflow. The panels are also seamless and gradient zoned to improve blood flow and give you the most muscle containment to give you better performance and increased recovery time.

With better muscle containment, you will have less oscillation and vibrations along with less muscle damage and fatigue. They are made with a high filament yard for dryness with wicks that seat to fabric exterior.

They feature a breathable lightweight zoned panel that features moisture management and antibacterial and SPF 50 sun protection. The 2XU are made of Invista Lycra that has a gradient compression with a medical circular knit construction that gives you constant and powerful pressure.

Things We Like:

  • Big reduction in pain after a run
  • Leg muscles feel less tired after a run
  • Better than medical compression socks

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Sizes run on the small side

Features of Compression Socks

There are lots of different compression sock models on the market. The features on compression socks can vary depending on the type of compression that they give you. When it comes to choosing the right compression level, it can be a little overwhelming at first until you find the right fit. If you are wearing them for a medical reason, it is best to discuss your options with your doctor to make sure you are choosing the right pair.


Measuring charts are provided by many of the retailers to tell you how to choose the proper size. Sizing will also depend on the type of compression sock that you want. For example, knee socks will include your shoe size, but full compression pantyhose is measured like normal department store pantyhose. The size of the socks is established based on a relationship between your weight and height. Other considerations can include calf circumference, ankle circumference, thigh circumference, calf length, and thigh length.

compression socks for running measurement


Depending on what you are wearing compression socks for, the material and style will vary. They can be constructed of Lycra, spandex, or rubber, and they also vary in length including full, knee, or thigh. It is always a good idea to consult your doctor about the type of socks you will be wearing, especially if it is for a medical condition.

Levels of Compression

Levels of Compression socks

You will find that compression socks come with different levels of pressure that are measured in mm Hg. They should feel snug, but they shouldn’t be so tight that they are painful.

Light to moderate compression (18-21 mm-Hg) — If you are traveling, pregnant, or you stand all day at work, this level is appropriate for mild leg swelling.

Moderate compression (22-32 mm-Hg) — If your legs feel tired or heavy, or if you are dealing with varicose veins and mile swelling, the moderate compression level socks will help give you extra support.

Firm compression (34-46 mm-Hg) — This level is good if you are pregnant with moderate to severe varicose veins, have moderate edema, have had vein stripping done, need to treat ulcers, or are trying to battle a disease like lymphedema.

Extra firm compression (48-50 mm-Hg) — This compression level helps with severe varicose veins or edema, severe lymphedema, chronic venous diseases, and severe post-thrombotic syndrome.

Heavy compression (52-60 mm-Hg) — This compression level is the strongest compression level, and it is primarily used to treat Severe Post Thrombotic Syndrome and lymphedema.

Types of Compression Socks

Types of Compression Socks

Depending on what you are wearing compression socks for, they can come in various lengths to cover different areas of your leg. If you have DVT, you will want compression socks that come just under your knee.

If you need them for standing all day at work, moderate compression that is in the lower numbers is usually enough. If you have a medical condition like DVT, then you’ll need more compression with socks in the higher numbers.

There are also compression socks that are specifically designed such as thrombo-embolic deterrent (TED) hose, also known as anti-embolism stockings. These are used after surgery when you will be spending a lot of time in bed.

Once you can stand and walk around, you will find that graduated compression socks work better. If you do need compression socks for a medical reason, your doctor should measure your legs to make sure you are prescribed the right type of compression socks for you.

How do they work?

When pressure is applied on your legs from the stockings, your blood flow is better. This allows your heart to relax from taking blood to your muscles and also helps your veins when they push blood back to your heart.

Compression socks will keep your legs from getting achy and tired, plus they can stop swelling in your ankles and feet which reduces your risk of spider veins. This can also help you from being dizzy or light-headed when you stand up, which is always a good thing.

When your blood keeps moving, it makes it hard to collect in your veins and clot. If a clot breaks free, it is possible for it to travel in your blood and become stuck in a dangerous spot. There can also be swelling if the blood clot gets lodged and blood can’t flow around it.

Athletes, especially runners, triathletes, and basketball players, often find benefits from wearing compression socks. While you are active, this allows blood to flow better to get oxygen to your muscles and to stop tissue damage. This also helps muscles recover quickly after activity from the increased blood and lymph circulation making muscles less sore and prevents cramping.

How are they worn?

When you are ready to put on your compression socks, make sure to smooth them out flat to avoid bunching. They shouldn’t be too long and you don’t want to fold or roll them down as that can make them too tight cutting out your blood flow like a tourniquet.

It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before wearing them if you have a medical condition. You may have to wear them most of the time, but you can remove them to bathe. You should be able to wear normal shoes with compression socks without any problems.

Bottom Line

When you are looking for the best runners compression socks, there are several contenders on the market. Runners will appreciate the faster recovery time you get when you wear compression socks as well as the boost in performance you will see. When you try one of our Picks of the best compression socks for running, you will see a big advantage that lessens your pain and makes your legs feel awesome after a long run.

They are definitely not your parent’s compression socks. There is a new generation of compression socks that are fun and functional. If you are tired of living with painful or tired muscles, or you are interested in boosting your endurance and reduce cramping while running, compression socks may be your answer.

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