How Tight Should Compression Socks Be For Running

Compression socks have become increasingly popular among runners due to their potential benefits such as improved blood circulation, reduced muscle fatigue, and faster recovery times. However, it is important to understand how tight compression socks should be for optimal performance and comfort.

Why Wear Compression Socks for Running?

Before diving into the topic of how tight compression socks should be, let’s briefly discuss why runners choose to wear them. Compression socks are specially designed to apply pressure to the lower leg, helping to improve blood flow and prevent swelling. This can be particularly beneficial for long-distance runners or those with pre-existing conditions such as varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis.

Additionally, compression socks can help reduce muscle vibration, which is believed to be a leading cause of muscle fatigue during running. By stabilizing the muscles, compression socks may help runners maintain their form and reduce the risk of injury.

Choosing the Right Compression Level

When it comes to compression socks, one size does not fit all. Different levels of compression are available, ranging from mild to extra firm. The compression level is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and indicates the amount of pressure applied to the legs.

For most runners, a compression level of 15-20 mmHg is recommended. This level of compression is considered moderate and provides a good balance between compression effectiveness and comfort. It helps improve blood circulation and reduce muscle fatigue without feeling overly constrictive.

However, if you have specific needs or conditions, you may require a different compression level. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional or a specialist to determine the most suitable compression level for your individual needs.

Ensuring the Right Fit

In addition to the compression level, it is crucial to wear compression socks that fit properly. Ill-fitting socks can cause discomfort, restrict movement, and potentially hinder the benefits of compression.

When selecting compression socks, pay attention to the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer. Measure your calf circumference and ankle circumference to find the appropriate size. It’s important to note that different brands may have slightly different sizing guidelines, so always refer to the specific brand’s recommendations.

Compression socks should feel snug but not excessively tight. They should provide a gentle squeeze around the calf and ankle area without causing discomfort or cutting off circulation. If you experience any pain, numbness, or tingling sensations after putting on compression socks, they may be too tight, and you should consider trying a different size or compression level.

Putting on Compression Socks

Putting on compression socks can sometimes be a bit challenging, especially with higher compression levels. Here are a few tips to make the process easier:

  1. Roll the sock down, then insert your foot into it.
  2. Gradually pull the sock up, making sure to smooth out any wrinkles or folds.
  3. Avoid pulling the sock too hard or tugging forcefully, as this can stretch or damage the fabric.
  4. If necessary, consider using a specialized tool like a compression sock aid or a rubber glove to help with the application.


Compression socks can be a valuable addition to a runner’s gear, providing benefits such as improved blood circulation, reduced muscle fatigue, and potentially faster recovery times. The key to maximizing their effectiveness is wearing compression socks with the appropriate level of compression and ensuring a proper fit. Remember, comfort is paramount, so if you experience any discomfort or pain, be sure to reevaluate the size or compression level of your socks. Happy running!