What Size Compression Socks Do I Need For Running

When it comes to running, there are many factors to consider in order to optimize performance and prevent injuries. One often overlooked aspect is the use of compression socks. These specialized socks have gained popularity among runners due to their potential benefits, such as improved blood circulation and reduced muscle soreness. But how do you know what size compression socks you need for running? Let’s dive deep into the details.

Understanding Compression Levels

Compression socks are available in different compression levels, which are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The compression level determines the amount of pressure exerted by the socks on your legs. The most common compression levels for running socks are 15-20 mmHg and 20-30 mmHg.

The 15-20 mmHg compression level is considered mild to moderate compression. It provides a gentle squeeze to your legs, helping to improve blood flow and reduce fatigue during moderate-intensity activities like running. These socks are suitable for most runners, particularly those who are new to compression wear or have no specific medical conditions.

On the other hand, the 20-30 mmHg compression level is classified as moderate to firm compression. It provides a tighter squeeze to your legs, offering more support for improved performance and enhanced recovery. These socks are often recommended for runners who have specific medical conditions like varicose veins or a history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

It’s important to note that higher compression levels can be more restrictive and may feel tighter on your legs. If you’re unsure about which compression level is right for you, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or a specialist in compression wear.

Measuring for the Perfect Fit

Now that we understand the different compression levels, let’s talk about finding the right size for your compression socks. The size of the socks is determined by measuring the circumference of your calf and ankle.

Start by measuring the widest part of your calf, usually around the calf’s thickest point. Use a flexible tape measure and wrap it snugly around your calf without tightening too much. Take note of this measurement.

Next, measure the circumference of your ankle, just above the ankle bone. Again, use a flexible tape measure and wrap it snugly without applying too much pressure. Record this measurement as well.

Now that you have the measurements, refer to the size chart provided by the compression sock manufacturer. Different brands may have slightly different size charts, so it’s essential to follow the specific guidelines for the brand you choose.

Most size charts will include ranges of calf and ankle measurements that correspond to different sock sizes. Match your measurements to the appropriate size on the chart. If you fall between sizes, it’s generally recommended to go with the larger size for a more comfortable fit.

Additional Considerations

While measuring for size is crucial, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind when choosing compression socks for running:

  • Fabric: Look for compression socks made from moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics, such as nylon or polyester blends. These materials will help keep your feet dry and comfortable during your runs.
  • Length: Compression socks come in various lengths, including knee-high, calf-high, and ankle-high. The length you choose is a matter of personal preference and the level of compression you need. Knee-high socks offer more coverage and support, while ankle-high socks are more discreet and suitable for warmer weather.
  • Graduated Compression: Opt for compression socks that provide graduated compression, meaning the pressure is highest at the ankle and gradually decreases as it moves up the leg. This design promotes better blood circulation.


Choosing the right size compression socks for running is essential to reap the full benefits they offer. Understanding the different compression levels, accurately measuring your calf and ankle, and considering additional factors like fabric and length will help you find the perfect fit for your needs. Remember, when it comes to compression socks, comfort and proper fit are key. Happy running!