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Everything You Need to Know About Wearing Compression Socks

kathy-schader-compression-socks-585On a lovely LA afternoon I sat down with Kathy Schader, founder and president of Marvy, a compression legwear company, and chatted about all things compression socks. I’ve always been curious about wearing compression socks. I thought they were great for runs, but I wasn’t really sure when to use them or how. Luckily, Kathy knows her stuff and was happy to walk me through the business of compressing.

Q&A With Kathy Schader on Wearing Compression Socks

So what exactly is a compression sock? Compression is a technically advanced weave that promotes blood flow and circulation in the legs, which has enormous wellness benefits for overall leg health and appearance.

How did you get into the compression sock business?

I discovered compression socks early on: I would borrow black ones from my dad’s sock drawer to wear under my boots while trekking across campus in college, and then when I was starting out on my own, I wore them as both a waitress and PA because I was on my feet all day. They alleviated aches and pains. I moved to Japan at one point and started experiencing the adverse effects of 17-hour plane rides — again, compression socks did the trick then as they do now. So, compression and I have had a long history together.

A few years ago, my sister was pregnant and her doctor recommended wearing compression stockings to combat the spider veins and swelling in her legs. She called me one day after teaching in her lovely nude-color stockings and said, “I wish there were some cute compression socks.” A year later, we saw that compression socks were evolving for athletes with neon colors and really bold patterns. Like so many female entrepreneurs, I was inspired by the success stories of Spanx founder Sarah Blakely, and thought, why not go for it: why not create more wearable styles for everyday — a compression sock that people actually want to wear? A year and a half later, we started Marvy!

How should compression socks be used? Compression socks can be worn pretty much all day, every day, depending on the level of compression. Marvy socks in particular are medium compression, meaning that they are great for daily wear to prevent aches and pains from standing or sitting for long periods, to help prevent spider veins and swelling and to support overall leg health and wellness. Some people notice a gentle massaging sensation, which is a great bonus.

Who do they benefit? Just about everyone can benefit from wearing compression socks. Compression promotes blood flow and circulation. So, athletes wear compression socks to reduce muscle fatigue and aches by moving lactic acid away from muscles. The same science applies for people sitting all day or from standing all day — the compression provides a light massage and helps keep legs from feeling heavy and feet from swelling. Pregnant women can wear them to help prevent swelling, spider and varicose veins, and overall support for heavy-feeling legs. Travelers wear them to help prevent blood-clots and for reducing and preventing swelling on long-haul flights. It’s amazing how different your legs will feel if you slide Marvy on before a cross-country or overseas flight.

What are the biggest misconceptions about wearing compression socks? Most people aren’t aware that the average person — no matter their lifestyle or age — can receive a very important wellness benefit from wearing compression socks and that they are actually preventative. I always say they are like a lipstick that plumps or a foundation that moisturizes. They are working from the inside out, and ideally, looking good at the same time.

I’ve been wearing compression socks since my early 20s, maybe longer, and I can’t tell you how much agony they’ve saved me from a long day running around or a late night out in heels, and probably a few spider veins along the way.

Another misconception is that compression socks are hard to put on. The latest technology creates a true compression sock that is easier to put on than the old heavy ones. Plus, medium compression socks, like Marvy, are not super tight, so putting them on shouldn’t be a struggle.

How should we take care of the compression socks once we purchase them? The best thing to do is be careful with snags — watch for rings and jagged fingernails. Wash cool and lie flat. Most will dry overnight. This will help keep your elastic structure intact and compression true.

When should wear them? All day, everyday. Some people wear them at night, but we don’t recommend it. Socks that felt so good during the day will feel too tight and uncomfortable when your body is at rest. I also recommend slipping them on after a day or evening in heels. It’s immediate relief for swollen feet and ankles.

Anything else we should know about wearing compression socks? Some compression socks go by calf measurements; this is to ensure that your socks are not too tight and give proper compression. At the same time, you don’t want a sock that is too long in the foot, so it’s all really personal preference. If your socks ever feel uncomfortable, legs throb while wearing them or you see red marks from the elastic, your socks are too tight and you may want to go up a size.

marvy socks, compression socks

Compression can be cute, too! Credit: Marvy

I don’t know about y’all, but I was delightfully surprised to hear when you should put on a pair of compression socks. I always assumed you only wore them when running. I love thinking of them as a recovery indulgence. Just another treat I can spoil myself with after a great and challenging workout!

Do you love wearing compression socks? Learn anything new? —Tish

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!


  1. Kiales says:

    Good to know! I’ve been curious about compression socks recently, so this was very helpful 🙂

  2. I have a pair on now! My calves have been in knots lately and I thought they might help. Too early to tell, but it’s great to find out all this stuff about them that I didn’t know!

  3. Duh, I forgot one of the reasons I stopped by, got all psyched about the socks–

    I’ll try to get the word out other ways, but I’ve got a giveaway going for THREE copies of the FBG’s new book and chances of winning are excellent for FBG fans as not that many people come to my crappy blog to comment! Plus Rick Hanson too and he rocks.


    1. Jenn says:

      Yay, Crabby! Yay! 🙂

      —FBG Jenn

  4. Tish says:

    Pound it , Crabby! You the woman!

  5. You guys crack me up. And sorry for the compression sock giveaway post hijack!

    But I gotta say the Marvy’s are way cuter than the ones I’m wearing. 🙂

  6. Emily says:

    I haven’t tried socks, but I do wear compression fingerless gloves when I knit or play violin. I used to get tendinitis in my wrists all the time, and since I’ve started wearing the gloves, it hardly ever happens! I do have a new job where in on my feet all day – I am definitely planning to give Marcy a try ?

  7. Lil says:

    Everything I have been told and read is that you need to have your ankle pressure taken and calves measured before wearing. They should be medical grade in order for them to work, not over the counter from CVS, Walgreens, online etc.. get them from a doctor’s office or a medical grade store.

    I just went to a vascular doctor b/c my shins kept killing me and I wanted to make sure my circulation ws ok.

    The in depth ultrasound was normal. Anyways, she suggested wearing compression socks to help relieve the discomfort. Theirs were so tight, more than normal and for some reason when removed, my inner thighs hurt which freaked me out thinking it ws compressing my arteries. I wore them for 4 days just in case I was being silly. The thigh discomfort continued, shins kinda felt better.

    I quit wearing them. I have an appt to go back to the doc, but in the mean time, I have read up on compression socks. I know they are good for you, but it is imperative if they are to really work to have your calves measured and your ankle pressure measured (which my doc did not) b4 prescribing them. So it makes me wonder if buying your “compression” socks would really help since their not medical grade(or are they) and you should mention to ppl to get their ankle pressure measured?

  8. Alice says:

    Oh, this is a great article! I urgently need such socks! I love high-heeled shoes and in the evening my feet require rest.

  9. Banshee says:

    My husband just started wearing TED stockings, but today he said that one of them hurt. He had red marks from the elastic. He has CHF and it’s hard to get the circulation going in his legs.

  10. Mary Braun says:

    Most compression socks are too long in the legs for me and come up just over my knees and are the uncomfortable. Do you have shorter ones or not?

    1. Kristen says:

      Hey Mary,

      We don’t actually offer a product (so no, we don’t have shorter ones, but to be fair, we don’t have longer ones, either.) However, there are companies with shorter options — I know I have a couple from Stance. So, it’s worth checking around! –FBG Kristen

  11. SUSAN WILLEMS says:

    where can one get GOOD compression socks for the elderly socks that don’t leave red marks on moms legs under the knees?

  12. Very interesting article, I would cringe at the name of ‘compression socks’ (based on nothing really) but this has put a much different ‘spin’ on it – Thanks!!

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