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Why You Should Wear Compression Socks on Your Next Flight

As a frequent flier, I’m always looking for ways to stay comfortable and healthy during long flights. One of the best tips I’ve discovered is wearing compression socks. These special socks apply gentle pressure to your legs and feet, which can help prevent swelling, fatigue and even dangerous blood clots.

In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned about the benefits of compression socks and how to choose the right pair for your next trip.

What are compression socks and how do they work?

Compression socks, also known as flight socks, are snug-fitting knee-high socks that gently squeeze your legs. 

They are tighter around your ankles and get gradually looser as they go up your calf. This graduated compression helps promote blood flow from your feet back up to your heart.

When you sit still for long periods of time, like on an airplane, blood can pool in your feet and lower legs. This can lead to swelling, achiness, and in rare cases, blood clots. Wearing compression socks helps prevent this by keeping your blood circulating.

Benefits of wearing compression socks during flights

There are several reasons why I never fly without my trusty compression socks:

  1. Reduced swelling and discomfort: The mild pressure from the socks minimizes fluid buildup in your feet and ankles. I used to always take my shoes off mid-flight because my feet would swell up, but compression socks keep them feeling comfortable the whole time.
  2. Decreased risk of blood clots: Sitting motionless for hours in a cramped airplane seat slows down your blood flow, which can cause clots to form in your legs – a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Compression socks help prevent this scary scenario by keeping your blood moving. While the risk is small for most people, it’s higher if you’re pregnant, have had recent surgery, or have a history of blood clots.
  3. More energy after long flights: By improving circulation, compression socks help fight the sluggish, fatigued feeling you can get after a long flight. I find my legs feel lighter and I have more pep in my step when I wear them, especially after red-eyes or international trips.
  4. Warmth: Airplanes can get quite chilly, so the extra layer on my legs keeps me cozy without having to pack bulky sweaters or blankets.

How to choose the best compression socks for travel

With so many compression socks on the market, it can be tricky to find the right ones for your needs. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Compression level: For travel, look for socks with a mild to moderate compression level, between 10-30 mmHg. Higher numbers indicate a stronger squeeze. If you have a medical condition, ask your doctor what strength you need.
  • Size: Compression socks should fit snugly but not painfully tight. Most brands provide a size chart based on your calf circumference and shoe size. Measure the widest part of your calf to ensure a proper fit.
  • Material: Choose socks made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics like nylon or merino wool. Avoid 100% cotton as it retains moisture. Some socks have extra cushioning or arch support for added comfort.
  • Style: While the most important thing is function, you can find compression socks in a variety of colors and patterns to suit your personal style. I stick to basic black or navy so they look like regular dress socks under my trousers.

My personal favorite brand is GainTheEdge. Their socks have just the right amount of compression, don’t feel too constrictive, and hold up well after repeated washes. I also appreciate that they come in a wide range of sizes, including wide calf options.

Learn more from GainTheEdgeOfficial guide for compression socks to buy before taking a flight !!

How to wear compression socks correctly

To get the most benefit from your compression socks, it’s important to put them on properly. Here are some tips:

  1. Put the socks on first thing in the morning before any swelling starts. It’s much harder to get them on once your feet and ankles are already puffy.
  2. Gather up the sock with your thumbs inside until you reach the toe. Then slip your foot inside and gradually roll or slide the sock up your leg, being careful not to create any creases or folds. The socks should lay smoothly against your skin.
  3. Check that the toe and heel are aligned and that the top of the sock comes up to just below your knee. Adjust as needed for a snug and comfortable fit.
  4. If you find the socks difficult to put on, try using a donning aid like a stocking butler or rubber gloves to give you a better grip. You can also try a little talc powder to help them slide on more easily.
  5. Take the socks off before going to bed to let your skin breathe overnight. Hand wash or machine wash on a gentle cycle and air dry to maintain the compression.

Other tips for healthy, comfortable flying

In addition to wearing compression socks, there are a few other things I do to feel my best when traveling:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after the flight. Avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine as they can dehydrate you.
  • Move around the cabin every hour or two to get your blood flowing. I like to book an aisle seat so I can easily get up without disturbing others. You can also do some simple stretches and foot exercises while seated.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and slip-on shoes. Avoid anything too tight or restrictive.
  • Get up and walk around the airport during layovers instead of just sitting at the gate.
  • Adjust your sleep schedule in the days leading up to your trip if you’re crossing time zones. This can help minimize jet lag.


Wearing compression socks is an easy and effective way to improve comfort and reduce health risks on long flights. As someone who travels frequently for both work and leisure, I consider them an essential part of my in-flight routine.

Of course, compression socks are not a magic bullet. They work best when combined with other healthy habits like staying hydrated, moving around frequently, and wearing comfortable clothing. If you have any medical concerns, always check with your doctor before wearing compression socks or flying.

Ready to give compression socks a try on your next trip? To learn more about choosing the best flight socks for your needs, check out GainTheEdgeOfficial guide. With the right pair, you can arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to explore, instead of sore and sluggish.