Congrats! You’ve decided to take care of your legs and wear compression socks. When shopping you might notice that in addition to different sizes, compression socks also come in different levels of compression indicated by mmHg. What does this mean and does it matter?
What is mmHg?
mmHg stands for millimeters of mercury and it is a measurement of pressure. In addition to being used on compression socks, it is also used for blood pressure readings. Common levels for compression socks include; 8-15mmHg, 15-20 mmHg, 20-30 mmHg and 30-40 mmHg. Compression socks provide graduated compression so mmHg is listed as a range. The higher number in the range is the amount of pressure at the foot while the lower number is the amount at the top of the sock.
Does it Matter?
Yes, choosing the right level of compression is important. With the wrong level of compression the socks won’t be as helpful and could even cause harm. Since they work by compressing surface veins to assist with circulation, socks without enough pressure won’t be helpful. Too much compression can completely cut off circulation. Give some thought to which level of mmHg is best for you.
How to Choose the Best mmHg Level for Me?
Some simple guidelines.
- 8-15 mmHg: These socks provide very light compression. They are perfect for those who spend a lot of time on their feet or suffer from minor occasional swelling. See our selection of compression socks with 8-15 mmHg here.
- 15-20 mmHg: This is the compression range usually recommended to prevent blood clots with long distance travel and to prevent swelling during pregnancy. It is also great for those who suffer from minor swelling and spend a lot of time on their feet. See our selection of compression socks with 15-20 mmHg here.
- 20-30 mmHg: These socks provide more compression and are ideal if you often experience swelling in your lower legs at the end of the day. They can also provide relief from varicose veins and heavier pregnancy related edema. See compression socks with 20-30 mmHg here.
- 30-40 mmHg: This level of compression should only be worn when prescribed by your doctor. It is often prescribed for lymphedema, DVT and venous insufficiency.
Swelling in your legs can be the result of a variety of medical conditions so have a discussion with your physician to understand the cause.
The good news is you can help your health and comfort with something as simple as compression socks. The better news is you don’t need to sacrifice your style to do it!