How to Buy Travel Compression Socks

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Whenever possible on your plane ride stand up, stretch your legs out into the aisle and rotate your ankles to help keep your blood circulating properly.
Whenever possible on your plane ride stand up, stretch your legs out into the aisle and rotate your ankles to help keep your blood circulating properly. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Travel compression socks are designed to aid blood circulation in your legs when you are sitting for long periods of time, such as during air travel. Leg swelling can be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a formation of a blood clot in the deep veins in your body. DVT is most likely to occur if you already have a medical condition related to blood clots, are obese, pregnant or have other conditions that limit your blood circulation while you are stationary. Travelers without any of these conditions, however, can also experience swelling in the leg caused by restricted blood circulation. Compression socks can help to keep swelling at bay.

Consult with your doctor prior to travel if you have a history of blood clots, poor circulation, are pregnant or have other diagnosed medical conditions that might cause swelling in your legs during travel. Your doctor will likely recommend travel compression socks as one aid to keep you healthy during your flight.

Determine the appropriate sock size. Some manufacturers sell compression socks by sock size and others by shoe size. You want the socks to fit comfortably, but not to be too loose. The goal of a compression sock is to provide a steady pressure on the leg with the most pressure at the ankle and the least at the knee. Socks should fit snug on your legs in order to provide an appropriate amount of pressure to be effective.

Determine the style of sock you want. Travel compression socks are now offered in a variety of styles and colors. This allows you to select a sock that is more discreet and matches your personal style.

Order your socks from an online resource such as TravelSmith.com or Legsmart.com. You might also find compression socks at your local medical supply store or pharmacy. A pharmacist can assist you in finding the right compression sock for your health needs and concerns.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stay well hydrated during prior to and during your flight. This will help limit swelling during travel.
  • Cut back on caffeine, alcohol and salty foods prior to traveling to aid in avoiding dehydration.
  • Wash your compression socks according to the manufacturer's instructions in order to prolong their life. Compression socks are more expensive than regular socks. To save money, care for them properly.

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