How to measure compression socks

Written by blair foy
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How to measure compression socks
Use a sewing tape measure to take leg measurements for compression stockings. (tape measure image by MichMac from

Wearing compression stockings can be a key factor in the treatment plan for a variety of medical conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, compression stockings are commonly used to combat the symptoms of oedema, or swelling in the legs, and vein conditions such as varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. For compression socks to work properly, the stockings must be fit specifically for the individual wearing them. With compression stockings available in either knee-high, thigh-high or pantyhose styles, men and women can choose a compression sock that best suits their lifestyle.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sewing tape measure

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  1. 1

    Determine what type of compression stocking you want to wear. Knee-high socks are generally easier to use, as they reach to just below the knee. As thigh-high stockings reach over the knee to the mid-thigh, they can cause discomfort with increased tightness or risk of falling down. Pantyhose styles are generally used by women in a professional setting. Consider your lifestyle and needs when deciding which type of compression stocking will work best.

  2. 2

    Start with the smallest part of the leg---the ankle circumference. Measure your ankle just above the ankle bone. Ensure that while you are measuring, the tape is straight and lies flat. Crooked placement or a twisted measuring tape could lead to inaccurate measurements.

  3. 3

    Measure the calf at its largest circumference for a proper dimension. If you are having difficulty finding the largest part of your calf, take a number of measurements below the knee, from your lower calf up to mid-calf. Compare these measurements to determine your largest calf circumference.

  4. 4

    Measure the thigh at the point of largest circumference. You'll need to stand up to take this measurement.

  5. 5

    Measure the length of your entire leg. Based on your preferences for compression stocking style, you have two options in taking this measurement. If you prefer knee-high stockings, run the measuring tape from the back of your knee to the base of your heel. For thigh-high stockings, stand up and measure from the top of your thigh to the base of your heel. You may need assistance to measure the length of your leg for thigh-high compression stockings.

Tips and warnings

  • To combat any swelling, measure your legs in the morning. If you are experiencing issues with oedema, attempting to measure your legs in the afternoon could prove unsuccessful, due to fluid retention.
  • Do not wear shoes while measuring for compression stockings.

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