The Best Compression Socks for Men: 6 Brands to Know
Are you experiencing general leg discomforts like muscle soreness and cramping? You're not alone.
In the daily bustle of everyday life, we push ourselves to go harder and faster. Pulling a long day at work and running that marathon over the weekend may give you a sense of accomplishment. But, it's probably why you complain of muscle aches and leg fatigue now.
You might also have a leg ailment that's cramping your plans. Fitness enthusiasts often face health issues like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Others may deal with chronic leg conditions such as severe leg swelling or varicose veins. Sometimes, the pain may be so overwhelming that you can't go about your daily life as usual.
But, what if there's a simple solution to relieve and manage lower leg discomfort? Introducing graduated compression socks that utilize compression technology to alleviate the discomforts mentioned earlier. Read on to find out how to choose the best compression socks for men so that achy, heavy legs no longer hold you back from reaching your full potential.
Here's Why You Need a Pair of Men's Compression Socks
Did you know that compression socks can be used for almost every occasion? Whether you're a businessman who often travels for work, a healthcare professional who’s always on your feet, or a fitness enthusiast who wants faster muscle recovery in between workouts, rolling on a pair of compression socks can help you go further.
Graduated compression socks are even more of a must if you're dealing with mild to moderate leg ailments like varicose veins and blood clots. Here, we'll briefly go through some of the best uses of compression socks for men.
1. Promote Blood Circulation
If you sit or stand for long periods with little activity, chances are you've dealt or are dealing with poor blood circulation, particularly in your lower legs. As a result, you're no stranger to symptoms like cramping, leg swelling, and leg fatigue.
Luckily, a pair of compression socks can help minimize and prevent all of these symptoms. Graduated compression socks are tightest at the ankles with the compression gradually decreasing up the leg. This compression technology reduces the diameter of the veins in your legs, thereby improving blood circulation.
2. Enhance Athletic Performance
If you're a fitness enthusiast, you'll definitely need a pair of compression socks for greater athletic performance. Since compression socks promote blood flow in your lower legs, this means that deoxygenated blood is transported back to your heart and exchanged for oxygenated blood at a faster rate. As such, the greater oxygen delivery rate may help lessen muscle soreness and leg fatigue after a run.
A 2020 review featured in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine supports this theory. The simple act of wearing compression socks after exercising reduced muscle soreness and leg fatigue. This, in turn, shortened the duration of muscle recovery in between workouts, which means less time resting on the couch and more time in the gym. Plus, wearing compression socks during physical activity actually increased the individual's athletic performance.
3. Provide Pain Relief
Graduated compression socks are often used to provide pain relief for lower leg ailments like:
- Edema (leg swelling)
- Varicose veins
- Poor blood circulation
- Exercise-induced vasculitis
- Blood clots (or deep vein thrombosis)
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Post-surgery recovery
In that sense, donning on a pair of compression socks may create a biohacking effect — it "upgrades" your body's ability to go beyond physical limits set in place by medical issues.
For instance, plantar fasciitis often causes sharp pain at the soles of your feet. This annoying symptom is particularly pronounced after long periods of inactivity or after intense exercise.
Rather than allow plantar fasciitis to limit your daily movements and gym sessions, wearing graduated compression socks with arch support may provide pain relief to continue doing what you love. In other words, a pair of compression socks enables you to accomplish more, even with a medical condition.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Compression Socks for Men
To choose the best compression socks for men, here are a few factors to consider.
1. Compression Level
The compression level refers to the amount of pressure exerted by compression socks. It's measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is categorized as such:
- Non-medical grade compression socks: This type of compression socks don't require a doctor's prescription for purchase. They usually come in 8-15 mmHg compression or 15-20 mmHg compression.
- Medical grade compression socks: These usually have a higher compression level of 20-30 mmHg or 30-40 mmHg. They are designed for those with severe medical conditions or have just undergone surgery.
Compression levels of 8-15 mmHg or 15-20 mmHg are usually sufficient for traveling (read: long flights), work (i.e., long periods of sitting or standing), or boosting muscle recovery after an intense workout. These compression socks may also provide pain relief for plantar fasciitis and shin splints or alleviate minor swelling and mild cases of varicose veins.
If you're using compression socks for chronic health conditions or after surgery, check with your doctor to see if you require a higher compression level.
Material is one of the top factors you have to take into consideration when choosing the best compression socks for men. Ideally, the material should have the following properties:
- Moisture-wicking: With moisture-wicking material, sweat is absorbed and whisked away to the outer surface of the garment. Adequate moisture management prevents bacteria from breeding, thus minimizing foot odor. Also, the lack of sweat drying on your skin lowers the likelihood of rashes and blisters. Bamboo, Merino wool, wool, and nylon are some of the popular choices.
- Breathable fabric: Breathability is important when it comes to minimizing leg sweat, especially on long days or during workouts. After all, less sweat means reduced foot odor and rashes. Opt for rayon, nylon, or Merino wool.
- Thermoregulation: In other words, temperature control — the socks keep you warm during colder seasons and cool during warmer temperatures.
- Anti-odor: Encasing your lower legs in a thick pair of compression socks may cause stinky feet for some people. Choose a material that uses anti-odor technology to save you from social embarrassment.
- Sustainable: Besides caring for your feet, the pair of compression socks should also care for the environment. Bamboo and Merino wool are planet-friendly fabrics to keep on your radar.
- Stretchability: This allows you to put on knee-high compression socks easily. Spandex, lycra, nylon, and rayon are most commonly used.
- Durability: A quality pair of compression socks will last between three and six months. Opt for durable fabrics that withstand wear and tear, particularly when you're wearing them for extreme sports.
Generally, men's compression socks come in different styles:
- Knee-high compression socks: These socks start from your toes to just below your knees.
- Compression sleeves: They provide targeted calf compression, covering from the ankles to the calves.
- Low-cut/no-show compression socks: In other words, they look like your average pair of running socks but imbued with compression technology. They pair well with running shoes and are ideal for warm climates or those who don't like knee-high socks.
The best compression socks for men don't just come in black or white; there are different color options to brighten up your drawer. Some brands like Cuvu also offer fun patterns that will show off your personal style.
One factor that really makes or breaks your compression socks is size. Too-small compression socks constrict your blood vessels and worsen the issue of poor blood flow. Too-large compression socks end up sliding down your lower legs so that you don't reap any benefits from the graduated compression technology.
Study the sizing guide intently. Take note of the measurements for your shoe size, ankles, calves, and thighs (for mid-thigh compression socks that go above the knee). If you have wide calves, check if the manufacturer offers wide-calf options so that the compression socks don't feel too tight around the calf area.
6 Brands That Have the Best Compression Socks for Men
If you're shopping for men's compression socks, here are some of the best brands to choose from.
1. Cuvu Compression Socks
As the unbeatable champion in the world of compression socks, Cuvu offers some of the best options on the market. Made with sustainable bamboo material that's breathable, durable, yet feels crazy-soft on your skin (sorry, no itchy fabrics here), these compression socks are comfortable to wear on long days, minus the annoying blisters.
Leveraging graduated compression technology, Cuvu's compression socks are ideal for all occasions — be it daily comfort, enhanced athletic performance, or pain relief that actually works. Plus, these socks are super affordable so that your wallet won't take a major hit.
What's more, the brand offers a wide range of masculine colors and designs. Whether you need a dark, neutral color that goes with your office work pants or sporty prints that appeal to your athletic side, Cuvu has you covered.
2. Sockwell Compression Socks
When it comes to the best compression socks for men, Sockwell does it pretty well too. Using a custom-crafted Merino wool blend, their socks wrap around your lower legs snugly while providing temperature and odor control. With a variety of colors and styles — knee-high socks, compression sleeves, and low-cut ankle socks — there's definitely at least one pair that will tickle your fancy.
3. Nurse Mates Compression Socks
Sometimes, it can be difficult to find compression socks that fit a wide calf and large feet, a common complaint among men. That's where Nurse Mates comes in for your perfect fit — its wide calf compression socks can fit up to a 22" calf size.
The brand also offers compression levels of 12-14 mmHg for daily casual use at very affordable price points. Plus, there's a ton of variety in different colors and fun designs.
4. Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks
For the serious athletes, you'll want to check out Physix Gear Sport. With graduated compression technology, the brand's compression socks provide stable calf and ankle support for optimal performance.
Moreover, Physix Gear Sport offers compression socks in different styles to suit your needs. You can choose to pair knee-high socks with your favorite pair of basketball shorts or don low-cut ones that match your sneakers effortlessly. To boost muscle recovery, use Physix Gear Sport compression socks during and after your workouts.
But it should be noted that the brand’s compression socks sport a distinctly athletic design that may not go well with your business pants or casual clothes if you’re intending to wear compression socks for non-sports activities.
5. Copper Compression Socks
Copper Compression Socks set themselves apart from others, thanks to the infusion of copper ions in the threads. The result? Antimicrobial compression socks that ward off foot odor while giving your lower legs maximum comfort through compression technology.
Whether you're a frequent flyer, a marathoner, or a nurse that's constantly on your feet, Copper Compression Socks will not disappoint. One drawback though is that these socks come in limited colors and designs.
6. Vitalsox Compression Socks
Vitalsox compression socks are made with a patented graduated compression technology that starts from the feet rather than the ankles.
Specifically designed for fitness enthusiasts, Vitalsox uses a proprietary Silver DryStat® fiber blend to minimize odor and prevent bacterial growth. Plus, the breathable fabric offers thermoregulation and moisture-wicking properties. An added benefit: It comes in different colors to match your running shoes.
Unfortunately, the brand’s socks do err on the pricier side. As such, if you’re dipping your toes into the world of compression socks for the first time or on a tight budget, you may want to look somewhere else for cheaper options.
Compression Socks Are a Man's Best Friend
To recap, compression socks are ideal for almost any situation in your daily life. From preventing leg cramping on a long flight to improved blood circulation whilst sitting or standing for long periods to maximizing your performance in the next ultra-marathon, it's no wonder that compression socks are touted as men's new best friend.
To choose the best compression socks for men, look out for key factors such as the compression level, material, and size. Plus, various styles of different colors amp up the fun factor of this hardworking footwear. Make compression socks a staple in your wardrobe if they aren't already.