Compression socks first became popular with runners, but now you see top athletes in many sports wearing them to help improve their performance and speed up their recovery. Do compression socks work for cyclists?

Yes! Whether you do mountain biking, long-distance rides, or bike for fun, compression socks can make a difference.

Are all compression socks the same, though? You want to find the best compression socks for cycling.  

This guide will explain more about how compression socks can improve your biking experience and what to look for when choosing cycling socks.

My Experience with Compression Socks

Initially, I started wearing compression socks to reduce the swelling that I had in my legs from sitting too long while traveling.  I was amazed the socks were actually comfortable and quickly helped with the swelling.

After that experience, I have started wearing compression socks not just when I travel, but for exercise too.  The socks help with my circulation which gives my legs more energy and helps the recovery process, so now I wear them whenever I am on my cruiser bike.

How Do Compression Socks Work?

Compression socks use a stronger elastic to increase the pressure on your legs, ankles, and feet. This graduated compression helps move blood through veins towards the heart and helps to increase circulation, energize tired, achy legs, reduce swelling, and help with muscle recovery.

Other Uses for Compression Socks

You will end up wearing compression socks more often than expected.  Compression socks can be helpful in other situations such as:

  • Exercising (Compression socks are also popular with runners, skiers, and hikers too).  
  • On long flights or road trips (You may be seated for long periods of time)
  • When recovering from surgery
  • When you are pregnant

What to Look for When Buying Compression Socks

It’s important that you find compression socks that are right for you.  Especially, if this is the first time you are buying compression socks, here are some factors to take into consideration.

Compression Level

Compression socks vary in the level of pressure they provide.  It ranges from mild (8-15 millimeters of Mercury or mmHg) to extra firm (30-40 mmHg).  If you have serious circulation issues, a doctor may recommend 40-50 mmHg.

The right level for you depends on personal preference and any current medical issues, like varicose veins. For the average cyclist, 20-30 mmHg will be fine.  Higher compression levels may not be as comfortable.

If you are not sure what compression level you need, it’s best to get advice from a doctor.  In some cases for those with medical issues, insurance may cover the cost of compression socks.

Make sure the socks have graduated compression rather than consistent compression through the sock.  Graduated compression socks apply the most pressure at the ankle then the pressure decreases the further the sock goes up the leg which helps push blood back up the leg and provides the most benefits.

Size

Compression socks must be the right size or they are not going to feel comfortable.  More importantly, if compression socks don’t fit correctly, they are not going to provide any benefit.  Since the socks have graduated pressure, make sure the right amount of pressure is applied to the right spot.

Each brand has a slightly different definition of sizes, so it’s important to measure yourself and look at the sizing chart.  Be sure to check whether the shoe sizes listed are men’s or women’s. In addition to your shoe size, you will need to know leg measurements.  Use a tape measure and follow these tips:

  • Take these measurements in the morning as legs may swell as the day goes on.
  • Ankle: Measure the narrowest point of your leg, usually an inch or two above the ankle bone.
  • Calves: Measure the widest point of your calf.
  • Calf length: Sit with your legs at a 90-degree angle and measure the distance from the floor to one finger below the bend of the knee.

Material

It’s important that the compression socks you choose are made from high-quality material so they last.  If the material is subpar than they might not keep the shape or compression level after several washes.

Each brand may use different materials to make their compression socks.  These materials normally include spandex, lycra, nylon, polyester, or some combination of those.  It’s personal preference as to which material is best.

Style

Compression socks may not be the most stylish article of clothing you will own, but there are some different color and pattern options available.  It’s all subjective, so chose biking socks that you feel comfortable wearing. Don’t stress about it too much, you will be wearing the socks while biking and it’s not a fashion competition.

They offer a few options when it comes to length.  While compression ankle socks may look less obvious, it’s best to stick with ones that at least go to the knees. You need the compression on your calf to get the benefit.

Price

Of course, compression socks are going to cost a bit more than your average athletic socks, but that’s because it offers more benefits.  You can find high-quality compression socks in a wide range of prices. When comparing prices of the different options make sure to take into consideration the number of pairs that are included.  The more pairs included, the less often you have to do laundry.

What are the Best Compression Socks for Bike Rides

This table summarizes some of the top compression sock options available on the market.  It includes a range of styles, prices, and pressure levels. All these options will work for both men and women.  More details about each of the top compression sock recommendations follows below the table.

[Comparison Table coming soon]

Mild Pressure

DANISH ENDURANCE Graduated Compression Socks

The Danish Endurance socks are top quality with a mild level of compression (18-21 mmHg).  These socks have more stitches per inch than many other socks making them more durable, comfortable, and snug-fitting.  They are made of 95% Polyamide and 5% Elasthan. The entire footbed also has reasonable cushioning.

Click here to check the price for the Danish Endurance Compression Socks.

CHARMKING Compression Socks

These are the cheapest compression socks on my list, but they also have the lowest pressure level (15-20 mmHg) which is fine for most casual athletes.  They are sold as 8 pairs together so perfect for those on a budget. These socks have light padding on the foot for added comfort and the special material provides moisture control.  There are plenty of color and pattern options.

Medium Pressure

CEP Compression Socks

CEP is compression apparel company owned by medi, who has been one of the global leaders in medical compression manufacturing for more than 80 years, so these socks are top quality.  They use a cotton nylon blend that provides a compression level of 20-30 mmHg. These socks are manufactured to last! You can choose from 5 different colors.

Physix Gear Compression Socks

These Physix Gear compression socks are popular on Amazon for good reason.  The socks are designed to be comfortable and provide a compression level of 20-30 mmHg.  The toe lining won’t squeeze and the material won’t slip down the leg. They are double-stitched with an anti-bacterial fabric that is also moisture wicking.  

Click here to check the price of the Physix Gear compression socks.

 

SB SOX Compression Socks

The SB SOX come in four different sizes with a wide range of calf circumferences so you are sure to find one that fits.  They also use a special fabric to prevents odors and static. These socks have a compression level of 20-30mmHg.

Click here to check the price for the SB SOX compression socks.

 

High Pressure

CompressionZ Compression Socks 

If you do need a firmer pressure sock, then this is an attractive option.  It has a compression level of 30-40 mmHg, but since it is made with a nylon and spandex blend the socks are breathable, moisture-wicking, and comfortable. The reinforced heel and toe make the socks more durable. There are 9 different styles (colors/patterns) to choose from.

If you don’t need this level of pressure, then it’s probably best to choose socks with less.  It will save you money and be more comfortable.

Caring for Your Compression Socks

To maximize the life of your cycling compression socks, it’s important to take good care of them.  Specifically:

  • Wash the socks after every use.
  • Buy two pairs of compression socks so that you will always have one that is clean.
  • Follow the care recommendations for your specific compressions socks, some should only be hand-washed.
  • Use a garment bag to reduce ‘lint balls’ that may collect in the bottom of the socks.
  • Compressions socks should air dry instead of putting them in the dryer.
  • Do not iron the socks.
  • Make sure the compression socks are completely dry before putting them on.

What do you think about compression socks? If you have some, do you think they have made a difference?  

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