What Do Compression Socks Do?

This is what all the hoopla is about...

Compression socks rock. They make our legs feel refreshed and energized, almost like they’re getting a mini-massage. How do they do it? By increasing the blood flow from our legs to our heart and raising our blood oxygen level.

But compression socks do more than just make our legs feel great. They minimize leg pain and cramping and reduce swelling in our ankles and feet. Wearing compression socks can also help keep our legs healthy, by delaying the onset of varicose and spider veins. Most importantly, they can help prevent a DVT (deep vein thrombosis)— a life-threatening blood clot that can show up in our legs.

Elite and amateur athletes wear compression socks to increase their athletic performance, speed up muscle recovery and alleviate the lactic acid build up that occurs post workout. It’s that lactic acid that can make your legs feel tired and achy. But it’s not just athletes who benefit!

But it’s not just athletes who benefit!

What Do Compression Socks Do for Swelling, Swollen Legs and Feet? 

  • Seasoned travelers wear compression socks to alleviate leg cramps and swollen feet and to minimize their risk of developing a DVT on a long flight.
  • Many healthcare workers understand the benefits of compression from their medical school education and from working with patients. They wear compression socks as part of their medical uniform, for their grueling 10-12 hour shifts.

Compression socks are no longer the ugly beige medical ‘grandma’ socks of years gone by. They’re part of an athlete’s arsenal of gear, a traveler’s must-have for long flights and a healthcare worker’s standard uniform.

Lily Trotters have transformed what was once a utilitarian garment into a fashion statement— compression socks that can be worn on a run, a flight or a long shift, to give expectant mom’s relief or just for a night out on the town.

Why not show your legs the love they deserve? Find what you need to know here, to understand the benefits of compression socks and learn why they should be part of your wardrobe.

The Skinny on Circulation and Compression

We have sixteen miles of veins running through our bodies. Our heart pumps blood into these veins, which carry blood throughout our body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to our muscles. Once these deliveries are complete, the blood returns to our lungs and heart to be enriched…and the process starts all over again.

Certain situations and medical conditions challenge this process, causing blood and fluids to pool in our ankles and feet. Graduated compression socks can help prevent and combat some of these circulatory-related issues.

How Graduated Compression Works

Graduated compression begins with a slight squeeze, or pressure, at the foot. The tightest compression is at the ankle, followed by a decreased, incremental and carefully measured squeeze moving up the leg. This compression ensures blood flows toward our heart instead of down toward our feet— or even laterally into superficial veins. This upward movement keeps blood from pooling in our ankles, returning it to our heart and lungs more efficiently than without compression.

Compression reduces the diameter of major veins, which increases the velocity and volume of blood flow. The overall pressure we feel as a result of the compression is affected by many factors, including the elasticity and stiffness of the compression material, the size and shape of our legs and our movements and activities. As a result, we experience increased blood oxygen levels, which can enhance athletic performance, speed up muscle recovery and simply leave our legs feeling refreshed and energized.

Measuring Compression Strength

Compression strength is described as a range. Each range is described in the chart below. The higher number represents the pressure at the ankle and the lower number represents the pressure at the top of the sock. This unit of pressure is referred to as mm/Hg (millimeters of mercury).

Compression Strength

Category of Compression

Compression Range



8-15 mmHg


15-20 mmHg


20-30 mmHg

Typically requires a doctor’s prescription

Extra Firm

30-40 mmHg

Always requires a doctor’s prescription and management


40-60 mmHg

Absolutely requires a doctor’s prescription and management

How Compression Strength is Used

Lily Trotters’ compression socks are 15-20 mmHg of compression (moderate compression); this is the strongest level of compression that can be used without a doctor’s prescription. It’s most often recommended for:

  • running or exercising,
  • recovery after exercise,
  • during pregnancy,
  • for long flights or for those who sit or stand for long periods.

Light to moderate compression is for those without a serious medical condition who want support—like runners, athletes, travelers, expectant moms, healthcare workers or anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time. A physician may recommend light to moderate compression after a medical treatment or surgery, for comfort and prevention of future issues.

Extra firm and heavy compression are typically worn post-surgery and by those with more serious health issues or chronic medical conditions like DVT, arthritis, diabetes, etc. Wearing extra firm to heavy compression should always be under a doctor’s care.

If you have a health issue, you should consult your doctor about the level of compression that’s best for your specific situation. A common compression myth is that more compression is better. However, that isn’t always true and compression that is too strong for your particular need could be dangerous. If you think medical grade compression (higher than 20 mmHg) is what you need, please consult with a medical professional.

High-performance compression vs. medical compression: what’s the difference?

Compression socks, compression stockings and other compression garments were originally used for medical purposes – to improve blood circulation, add support after an injury, treat venous insufficiencies, wear post-surgery and manage chronic illnesses. The idea of wearing compression for performance is relatively new, and today there are an array of compression garments to support athletic performance and recovery.

Medical compression socks span the range of strengths listed above (from 8-15 mmHg to 40-60 mmHg). They’re typically a thin sock and available in only plain beige and black. A staggering 30-60% of patients do not wear medical compression socks as prescribed by their doctors. The most commonly cited reasons are the lack of style and appearance, discomfort, including excessive heat and skin irritation and difficulty getting them on and off.

People crave style and comfort from their medical compression socks and are unhappy with boring beige socks that are so hard to get on and off.

Performance compression socks deliver the same benefits as medical compression socks. But they’re gear, built very strong, to enhance athletic performance, minimize muscle fatigue and speed up muscle recovery. They’re primarily 15-20 mmHg— the optimal compression strength for performance, recovery and non-medical wear.

For the most part, performance compression socks are thick, ribbed and super tight, making them hard to get on and off and uncomfortable to wear for long periods. Additionally, the style options offered to women can be very limited. Until now….

Lily Trotters compression socks for women are stylish, high-performance and marathon-strong. But, unlike other athletic compression socks, they are uncharacteristically thin, EASY to get ON & OFF and comfortable to wear for many hours, which means they’re a great solution for women seeking a designer, longer-lasting medical compression sock, too. Fashion plus fitness packed into one sock.

Where do Lily Trotters fit into the compression sock market?

  • Lily Trotters are all about DESIGN - everyone can and look and feel stylish while wearing them.
  • Lily Trotters are 15-20 mmHg— the IDEAL STRENGTH for what you need for all parts of your life: athletic performance, recovery, travel and everyday wear.
  • Lily Trotters are BUILT-TO-PERFORM – high-tech, DURABLE SOCKS THAT LAST – and a ‘must-have’ for our strong and growing following of unstoppable runners, athletes, travelers and all those with busy lives. We will support you before, during or after your workout and keep your legs and feet dry and odor-free with our moisture-wicking and antimicrobial finishes.
  • Lily Trotters proprietary weave is EASY ON & EASY OFF – a huge deal for those used to wrestling with their compression socks and a big reason why DOCTORS who prescribe Lily Trotters get RAVE REVIEWS from their patients— who are happy to have finally found a STYLISH and COMFORTABLE compression sock. (Watch this video to learn how to wear your Lilly Trotters comfortably, for hours.)
  • Lily Trotters are THINNER THAN OTHER ATHLETIC BRANDS, they FIT INTO DRESS SHOES (fashion alert—they’re multi-purpose!) and are COMFORTABLE enough to wear for hours. We’ve heard from satisfied customers, including one who wore hers for more than 36 hours straight while traveling and another, one of our product testers, who wore the same pair for 2.5 years, clocking thousands of miles as an ultra-marathoner. We believe it's time to demand more from compression socks. It’s time for choices beyond thick, hard-to-get-on athletic compression socks and plain and boring medical compression socks.
  • Lily Trotters are the ultimate athleisure compression socks. We’re unique— marrying original, modern, fashionable designs with thin, comfortable high-performance compression. Be unstoppable with Lily Trotters! Our women’s compression socks are built to perform.


The Lily Trotters Difference: Wear the same compression socks to run a marathon or simply get through a marathon-long day.

  • Fashion-forward DESIGNS— ready to rock your running shorts and your favorite skirt or pants.
  • BUILT TO PERFORM —cushioned heels, reinforced seamless toes, antimicrobial treatment and moisture-wicking finishes. Run long, run far – we’ll support your performance and your recovery.
  • EASY ON & EASY OFF — need we say more? 15-20 mmHg graduated compression – just the right squeeze for HOURS OF COMFORT.
  • FASHION or FITNESS — our thin and sturdy socks FIT inside dress shoes and running shoes.
  • BUILT TO LAST — follow our care instructions and your socks should ((hug)) you for a long time.
  • Made (with love) in the USA.

Our socks are designed, manufactured and quality-tested in the USA. Every pair of Lily Trotters you buy helps strengthen our economy by supporting well-paying jobs and professional working conditions for USA factory workers. Lily Trotters are the ‘feel-good’ socks for your legs, your wardrobe and your heart!