These Ankle Compression Socks Fight Swelling (Minus the Hassle of Pulling Them On)

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I love a good compression sock. After a long run when my achy feet and sore calves feel about 1,000 years old, slipping into a tight, knee-high stocking helps me feel like I can actually walk around without limping. The only problem is “slipping” them on—because they’re so tight, compression socks are notoriously hard to get all the way up (especially if you’re someone like me with thicker calves). So, when I came across ankle-length compression socks while perusing the internet, I was super intrigued. With ankle compression socks, I could get that welcome hug around my foot and ankle without feeling like I had to fight an MMA match with a piece of clothing. But would I still get any actual benefit from compression if it didn’t go up over my calves?

Experts In This Article

Well, it depends on which benefits I’m looking for. “There are many reasons why people would wear compression socks, ranging from a little bit of leg swelling to ulcers on their legs,” says Anahita Dua, MD, a vascular surgeon and director of the vascular lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. Read on to hear what the pros have to say about the real benefits of ankle compression socks, then shop five pairs we've got our eyes (feet?) on.

The best ankle compression socks, at a glance:

What are compression socks, anyway?

Compression socks are designed to increase blood flow over the particular area that they’re covering. “They can help improve circulation (especially in people who stand a lot), help prevent potentially deadly blood clots, relieve varicose vein pain, and decrease swelling,” physical therapist Jasmine Marcus, DPT, previously told Well+Good about using compression socks for recovery. Some research shows that knee-high compression socks can also slightly help athletes with endurance and reduce impact forces from activities like running.

Dr. Dua points out that traditional compression stockings used for medical purposes actually go all the way up the entire leg, ending near the groin. This is the only way compression will help with something like lymphedema that starts in the thigh.

However, knee-high compression socks have become a far more popular option because “compression stockings are annoying, hot, and difficult to put on,” Dr. Dua says. “People really hate them.” So if you don’t need to go all out, you can wear compression just up to the knees and still get the circulation benefits in the lower leg to decrease your chances of, say, getting a blood clot when flying, for instance.

The benefits of compression ankle socks

An ankle sock, Dr. Dua says, further limits those benefits to just the foot and ankle. “Ankle socks are not going to stop blood clots that occur in the calf,” she says. But, if you’re someone like me who gets annoyingly swollen feet from long runs—or pregnancy—an ankle-length compression sock can do the trick. “It'll prevent the foot from being really swollen because of pooled fluid,” Dr. Dua says.

Some people also simply like the tight, supportive sensation when struggling with something like plantar fasciitis or recovering from a sprained ankle. Others, like me, just like the feeling for workouts; I’ve started wearing ankle compression socks both during and after long runs and even slipped on a pair to run the Boston Marathon this spring. I couldn’t tell you whether they improve my endurance at all, but they do keep my feet feeling just a little bit happier.

Curious to try some yourself? Scroll to shop some fan-favorite ankle compression socks, below.

5 best ankle compression socks

a pair of grey bombas ankle compression socks
Best overall: Bombas Ankle Compression Socks — $20.00

Available sizes: S-L

Your feet will thank you not only for the support you get from these socks, but also for the buttery-soft fabric they get to slip into. They’ll help keep swelling down if you’re on your feet all day, giving your arches a good hug. Just know that Bombas’ compression socks definitely run tight, so be prepared for a squeeze.

Colors: 6


  • Super soft fabric
  • Strong compression
  • Bombas donates a pair for every pair bought


  • Compression can wear out over time
  • Run tight—might be too tight for some folks
feetures ankle compression socks
Best for plantar fasciitis: Feetures Plantar Fasciitis Relief Sock — $25.00

Available sizes: S-XL

Designed specifically for plantar fasciitis, these socks have targeted compression to lift, stabilize, and stretch the plantar fascia (the band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes). The tab style reaches just over the ankle bone to give the Achilles a little extra love, too. We particularly appreciate this pair in the summer because the lightweight fabric keeps our feet from getting too sweaty.

Colors: 5


  • Thin, breathable fabric
  • Targeted relief for plantar fasciitis pain
  • Tab design provides ankle cushioning and achilles support


  • Pricier option
comrad ankle compression socks
Best for everyday wear: Comrad Ankle Compression Socks — $36.00

Sizes: S-XL

This thin pair from Comrad offers just a little light compression for a snug fit around the arch and heel. They’re lightweight, easy to put on, and ideal for everyday wear when you want a tad extra support but don’t want intense compression. That said, they are on the lighter side, so if you’re expecting something a bit tighter, maybe opt for another pair.

Colors: 3


  • Soft, breathable material
  • Easy to get on
  • A budget-friendly option as far as compression socks go
  • Sweat-wicking and anti-odor fabric


  • Compression could be too subtle for some
  • Need to air dry so they don’t shrink
a pair of red swiftwick ankle compression socks
Best for workouts: Swiftwick Aspire Zero Tab — $17.00

Available sizes: S-XL

This pair is another great option for workouts if you’re into the no-show look. (Crew sock lovers will want to check out its cousin, the Aspire Five, ($19). Gentle compression wraps around your arch to give you that locked-in feeling without feeling restricted. The fabric on top is thin, but a little thicker underfoot for a welcome bit of additional padding.

Colors: 15+


  • Offers gentle support during workouts
  • Plenty of color options
  • Thin on top but slightly padded underneath
  • Several cuff height options


  • Compression might be too subtle for some
a pair of black cep compression socks
Best crew socks: Cep 80s Mid Cut Compression Socks — $20.00

Available sizes: S-L

We appreciate that, in addition to its low-cut and no-show socks, Cep also offers this mid-cut option. It sits like a crew sock, giving retro vibes and compression all the way up to the bottom of your calf. Yet it’s still easier to pull on than a knee-high compression sock. With a 20-30 mmHg compression rating, you get a medium amount of squeeze that’s great for athletes.

Colors: 2


  • Strong compression helps the feet and ankles feel secure
  • Sweat-wicking fabric
  • Retro look


  • Fabric is prone to picking up lint and pet hair

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Engel, F.A., Holmberg, HC. & Sperlich, B. Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing?. Sports Med 46, 1939–1952 (2016).
  2. Lucas-Cuevas AG, Priego-Quesada JI, Aparicio I, et al. Effect of 3 Weeks Use of Compression Garments on Stride and Impact Shock during a Fatiguing Run. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015 Oct;36(10):826-831. DOI: 10.1055/s-0035-1548813. PMID: 26090880.

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