Compression Socks or Calf Compression Sleeves?

Compression Socks or Compression Calf Sleeves for Workouts?

When it comes to compression clothing, one size does not fit all. Depending on your body, the level of activity you do throughout your day and the kind of support your body needs, you could require different types of compression apparel.

Compression socks may not always be ideal and there are times when calf compression sleeves might be the best choice. The best way to identify which one will work best for you is to understand the differences and pick what matches your needs.

Read on and use this guide to help you choose between compression socks and calf compression sleeves.

How Do Compression Socks Work?

Compression helps your blood circulate properly throughout your body. By fitting snugly around your core muscles, the compression socks prevent the blood in your body from staying in one place. It is forced to continue circulating and flow from your feet and legs back to your heart. That’s why high-quality compression products have that signature tight fit. For people who are sitting or standing for long periods of time for work, especially nurses/medical staff, hospitality workers, and anyone who works a desk job, gravity is working against your circulation. It’s harder for the blood to flow upwards from your feet to your heart without an extra push from the compression socks.


Additionally, when you exert yourself during an intense training session, your muscles require quick circulation in order to recover. Without good circulation, your muscles will fatigue faster and build up waste products from exercise
, which means they’ll also likely get sore and swell soon after or the following day.

Compression promotes your body’s natural functions and helps speed up the cleansing and healing processes. Compression socks are start working from your feet and keep blood from staying stagnant there, which could cause swelling. Calf compression sleeves, on the other hand, focus more on the calf muscles to give you extra support during a workout and improve the blood flow in that area.

Types of Compression Products

Neon Yellow Calf Compression Sleeves at The Grand Canyon

PRO Compression offers a variety of over-the-calf/knee-high compression socks (also referred to as compression stockings), along with crew-length/mid-rise socks and low (ankle) compression socks. Each is based on the graduated compression design that PRO Compression is known for. Our graduated compression design means that the compression gets tighter the farther away the material is from the heart. For example, on our Marathon sock, the compression is tightest by the arch of the foot and loosest at the opening, by your knee. 

So whether you’re wearing a low compression sock that doesn’t go above your ankle or one that reaches up to your knee, you’ll feel the benefits of graduated compression. You may find that one style works better for you during your workouts and another style that’s best for your workdays. It’s helpful to experiment and see what feels good for your body.

In addition to socks, we also carry calf compression sleeves. There are times when socks might be the better choice, for example throughout the day or during travel. But there are times when a calf compression sleeve is ideal, such as supporting movement during training sessions or for use on strenuous runs.

What is the Difference Between Compression Socks and Calf Compression Sleeves?

Knowing the difference between full compression socks and a calf compression sleeve can impact which product you choose. Depending on the activity, a sock may be a better choice than a sleeve or vice versa. For some activities, a calf compression sleeve might actually do more harm than good, so it’s important to do your research first. 

PRO Compression Graduated Compression Calf Sleeves

The most important difference to note between compression socks vs. calf sleeves is the length and form of each product. Simply put, socks have a foot bed and sleeves do not as they end right at the ankle.

With a calf compression sleeve, the second opening towards the ankle can be restrictive if worn for long periods of time. The blood can actually pool in your foot, causing the swelling you’re trying to avoid. Conversely, compression socks only have one opening, which keeps the blood circulating at all times, no matter how long you’re on your feet.

Compression for Muscle and Tendon Support

Each compression product will support your muscles and ligaments while you move, but compression socks are the much better choice if you plan to wear them for a long period of time. However, a calf compression sleeve is perfect for shorter intense training sessions or activities that require you to be barefoot or use specialized footwear. The versatility of a compression calf sleeves can make them a more convenient choice. Also, don't underestimate the ability to quickly put on and take off calf sleeves. 

How to Know Which Is Best for You

Obviously, everyone’s goals and needs are different, so there is not a single right answer when it comes to which compression product is right for you. The best way to understand which one you need is to experiment. Test each product and see how your body feels. 

Here are a few details to pay attention to when you’re deciding which is the right choice for you.

Signs You Need Compression Socks

Almost everyone will benefit from wearing some version of compression socks. However, here are a few signs you should think about buying them:

  1. Your feet and ankles are constantly swollen at the end of the day
  2. You plan to travel for a long, international flight where your movement will be restricted
  3. Your feet ache/are in pain at the end of each workday
  4. You are in need of recovery after a long bout of exercise
  5. Blood circulation is your primary concern
  6. You're looking for all-day relief of aches, pain, and swelling

Signs You Need a Calf Compression Sleeve

Someone who needs a calf compression sleeve might experience one or more of the following: 

  1. You workout with high-intensity multiple times a week
  2. You need a little extra support for fast movements
  3. You notice aches and pains during your workout that weren’t there before
  4. You have a favorite pair of low socks and want to pair them with a compression sleeve
  5. You need a quick and easy way to get in and out of your compression apparel
  6. Calf muscle support and protection is your main concern

These are not the only signs that you should follow in order to buy compression socks or a calf compression sleeve, but if you can identify one or more of these experiences in your own life, it might be time to consider wearing compression products during your day.

Compression Socks and Calf Compression Sleeves Available at PRO Compression 

Now that you know all the differences between our premium compression products, you’re probably ready for a pair yourself. We’re so glad you’re excited to try them!

When you’re ready to buy your first compression products, browse through our line of compression socks and compression sleeves.

We release new colors and designs every month, so there will always be something new waiting for you. For those of you blessed with larger calf muscles, we have recently released both compression socks and calf sleeves in Wide-Calf sizes.

Choosing between compression socks and calf sleeves can be a tough decision. If you're still not sure which you should choose, we are happy to help you decide. Simply contact us with any questions: 


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