How to Wear Compression Socks

Wearing a sock is fairly simple: pull on feet, smooth over heel and pull upwards over ankle. But compression socks are a little more difficult to wear, as they are tighter around the ankle. Read on to learn an easy way to wear such socks.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2018
Socks come in different sizes and colors as well as different types. Dress socks are thin, elegant and subtly designed and worn for formal occasions. Sports socks are made of a thick material, like cotton and are more wear-and-tear resistant. They are designed to keep moisture away from the skin.
One type of sock, which is used in the field of medicine is compression socks or stockings. These are specially designed medicated socks, that exert pressure on the foot when worn. The degree of pressure is less at the knee. These socks are used to treat venous disorders like varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency, venous leg ulcers.
They can prevent blood from clotting and encourage healthy blood circulation. There are various benefits associated with compression socks and they are even recommended for use by those traveling on long flights or whose jobs require them to stand for long periods of time.
When to Wear Compression Socks
Along with learning how to wear compression socks, one must also know when and for how long to wear them, especially if the stockings are worn for a medical issue. For those suffering from serious blood clotting ailments, the stockings may have to be worn continuously.
If continuous use is not prescribed by the doctor, consult a medical professional as to whether the socks can be taken off and for how long.
Wearing compression stockings at night should only be done at the recommendation of a doctor, otherwise they should be removed before sleeping. To prevent complications, the feet should be elevated throughout the night, when the stockings are not worn.
Compression stockings should be worn first thing in the morning, before performing any other activity. The minute the patient or individual is awake, he/she should put on the socks and then walk around or go to the washroom. Immediate wearing of the socks prevents the legs from swelling up.
If individual has walked around for a while and now needs to put on socks, make him/her lie down flat with feet raised above the level of their heart for 20 minutes. Such elevation causes blood and fluid collected in legs to travel back to heart. Elevating feet for at least 15 minutes is also helpful for those wearing compression stockings for first time.
How to Wear Compression Socks
Before you start putting them on, here are some tips on wearing compression socks, that may make the process easier:
  • Putting your compression socks on, should be the first thing you do in the morning.
  • Elevate your legs and feet for 15 minutes prior to putting on the socks.
  • Make sure your feet and legs are completely dry.
  • Remove rings and any jewelry on the arms and fingers.
  • Do not apply lotion or skin creams on the legs that will make the skin sticky.
  • To make it easier to pull on the socks, use talcum powder or a little cornstarch on the legs.
  • Try wearing or donning rubber gloves while pulling on the socks. They provide a better grip on the sock and prevent you from tearing them with your nails.
  • The material of the socks can be irritating to the skin. If it feels itchy, wear the socks inside out.
  • The socks should be flush against your skin, do not wear regular socks or stockings underneath and pull the socks over them.
  • Always sit down and try to raise your feet while putting the socks on. Either cross your legs or use a footstool to keep them raised.
  • Do not bunch or roll up the socks while pulling them on. Try to keep the sock as straight as possible.
  • Remember that the socks are tightest at the ankles and foot and less tight at the knee.
Here the technique for wearing compression socks is listed, for both open-toe and closed-toe varieties.
Way 1: Closed-toe socks
1. Insert your hand into the sock until you reach the heel portion of the sock.
2. Your arm is now wearing the long portion of the sock with the heel and feet part hanging loose.
3. Pull the sock back from your arm, such that it turns inside out. Do so until you reach the heel part of the sock.
4. Do not bunch or fold the inside-out part of the sock. Elevate your foot and slip it in the sock's foot portion.
5. Make sure your toes are firmly in the sock and gently ease the sock over your heel.
6. There should be no folds or lines over the sock, make sure your heel is placed in the heel pocket correctly.
7. Now start to roll out the inside-out portion of the sock around your ankle and upwards towards your knee.
8. Do not pull the sock upwards, instead unroll a little part of the sock and smooth it over your leg before going further.
9. You should use a rolling and massaging motion to ease the sock up your leg. Smooth out creases and folds gently.
10. The sock should fit you smoothly from knee to toe, there should be no creases or folds and your heel should be firmly in place.
Way 2: Open-toe socks
  1. Open-toe socks come with foot-slips that help to put them on.
  2. Pull on foot-slip first. Then pull sock over foot in one smooth motion.
  3. Smooth over any creases and folds in sock-covered foot.
  4. Make sure the sock fits correctly over your heel.
  5. Pull the sock upwards towards your knee, smoothing over any creases.
  6. Once the sock is completely on, pull the foot-slip off.
It takes a little practice and patience to put on compression socks or stockings. If you find it very painful and difficult to put the socks on, then you could buy a donning aid or compression sock aid. This is a small non-electrical tool that makes the process of putting on compression socks much easier. It is useful for senior citizens and the infirm.