Compression stockings: The complete guide

Make no mistake: compression stockings are neither ugly nor uncomfortable and are not just for seniors or after surgery. Médicus answers your questions and lifts the veil on this oh-so-practical solution to leg problems.


What are compression stockings used for?

Compression stockings or socks are different from regular socks. They are specifically designed to treat, relieve and prevent pain and disorders.

How does compression therapy work?

Compression stockings apply a measured amount of compression to the legs. The pressure is highest at the ankle and gradually decreases towards the thigh. This facilitates blood flow to the heart, which pumps blood through the arteries and veins more efficiently.

Thus, compression stockings or tights can reduce fluid build-up and resulting discomfort in the legs.

When to use compression stockings?

At work

By remaining in a sitting or standing position for long periods of time, to minimize leg fatigue.

For sports

During or after physical activity, to improve the recovery period and provide a thermoregulatory effect.

During pregnancy

To avoid edema (swelling) and thus help minimize the appearance of reticular veins or varicose veins.

To travel

During long air travel, to prevent leg pain and swelling of the feet and ankles.

Are all compression stockings the same?

There are compression stockings for different purposes. Athletes can benefit from them just as much as seniors—for completely different reasons.

Comfort stockings

As the name suggests, these socks are comfortable. They fit feet and legs of almost any size and shape without restricting circulation. They’re great for people with diabetes or swollen legs. They’re so comfortable because, among other things, they are:

  • Made from cotton, merino wool or linen (nice for sensitive skin)
  • Breathable
  • Soft

Comfort compression stockings are also easy to put on, take off and care for. These must-haves are available in a range of models. See comfort stocking models


Fashion stockings

They are intended for people with mild edema and designed to be versatile. Our fashion stockings are available in a wide selection of fabrics, patterns and colours to complement your professional attire (skirts, dresses, suits) and casual outfits (shorts, city shoes).

They look just like conventional nylon stockings. They are often recommended for pregnant people and people who work for long periods standing or sitting.

See fashion stocking models


Sport stockings

Athletes wear compression stockings for a number of reasons. These include improved performance, injury prevention, comfort and support during recovery.

Compression stockings for sports are designed with highly innovative technology that:

  • Reduces vibration from impact with the ground
  • Decreases the risk of periostitis
  • Prevents calf cramps
  • Avoids lactic acid build-up in muscle tissue

They are also highly breathable and dry quickly. Different models are made from high-quality polyester, polyamide or spandex fibres. Take good care of them to preserve their properties for as long as possible.

See sport stocking models


Therapeutic stockings

Therapeutic compression stockings are used to treat various conditions. They are specifically designed to reduce the symptoms and prevent complications of certain disorders.

Diabetes: People with diabetes are vulnerable to a variety of foot conditions, and therapeutic stockings are a proven preventive ally.

Venous ulcers: Compression is the first-line treatment for venous ulcers (or varicose ulcers). It can also avoid the need for weekly bandages.

Thromboembolism: When worn properly, therapeutic compression stockings reduce coagulation from thromboembolism. Generally, high-tension stockings are suggested. They must be worn continuously to narrow the vein diameter and speed up blood flow.

Lymphedema: A stocking with flat-knit compression fabric is suggested as the garment of choice for lymphedema. When the affected limb stabilizes and symptoms are in the first stage, a circular knit may be considered, depending on the weave and tension level.

How to put on compression stockings properly

There are some things you can do to make sure you put on compression stockings or tights the right way. Here are some simple steps and a few mistakes to avoid:

  • Always wear appropriate rubber gloves when putting on or taking off your garment, or use assistive devices.
  • Take your stocking and turn it inside-out except for the foot.
  • Hold your stocking or tights where the ankle is supposed to go, using both hands, to create an opening (as if you were putting on a sock).
  • Insert the toe first and gently slip the heel in, then unroll the stocking or tights to your ankle (unroll to the top of your thigh for stockings and thigh-highs, to below the knee for knee-highs, or to the waist for tights).
  • With a little water, or as recommended by your professional, wet your hands and adjust the stockings or tights from top to bottom, massaging vertically.

How to care for compression stockings

Compression stockings require special care. Our experts offer the following tips:

  • Wash your stockings daily in warm water with mild soap. Do not add fabric softener
  • Wash by hand or machine, delicate cycle (unless otherwise advised by the manufacturer)
  • Rinse your stockings with warm, clear water
  • Do not wring out your stockings, and avoid direct heat (dryer, radiator, sun)
  • Pat them dry in a towel and let them air dry
  • Follow the manufacturer’s or your healthcare professional’s guidelines for putting on and removing compression stockings.
  • Watch for any issues and replace your stockings as soon as you notice wear.

Download our care and warranty card

Where to buy compression stockings

Compression stockings should be selected carefully. Ideally, have a certified compression garment fitter guide and measure you.

Whatever your reasons for considering a purchase, it’s a good idea to find out about the most popular products on the market.

See the line of compression stockings available from Médicus

Got questions?

Contact our certified advisors.