Here's the short answer—yes. For most people, it's safe to wear compression socks throughout the day. As long as you wear compression socks properly, without allowing them to bunch or fold, they're safe and beneficial. As for the ideal length of time, it might be helpful to look at some of the common reasons that people wear compression socks for customized guidance.
To Aid in the Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Doctors often recommend compression therapy as a way to prevent blood clots from forming in the deep veins. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be particularly dangerous when blood clots break off and move to other parts of the body, causing embolisms. For example, a pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot breaks off from a deep vein, travels through the bloodstream, and blocks an artery in the lung. Pulmonary embolisms can be fatal, so avoiding DVT is an important way to prevent life-threatening blockages.
On A Long-Haul Flight
There is compelling evidence to suggest that graduated compression may help to prevent DVT during long-haul flights. (Clarke et al.) Let's say you're planning to take a long flight from San Francisco to Singapore. Since you'll be on the plane for over 16 hours, you might wonder whether it's safe to wear compression socks for the entire length of the journey. While we do not generally advise customers to wear compression socks while they sleep, many doctors recommend wearing compression socks for the duration of a long flight.
Particularly for passengers who plan to sit upright throughout a flight, compression socks could be useful, helping your veins to pump blood against the force of gravity. If you'll be traveling in a seat that completely reclines and lies flat, compression socks may not be needed when you're lying down. During those times, gravity will not cause blood to pool in your lower legs, so you'll have less of a need for compression socks. If you're sitting upright, blood is more likely to pool in the lower legs, slowing blood flow and leading to increased risk of DVT. Compression socks can help improve your circulation and prevent blood clots, so we'd recommend that you wear them all the way from San Francisco to Singapore.
After surgery, the risk of developing DVT becomes more pronounced. Doctors often recommend compression therapy during the postoperative period. (Cayley) Usually, if a patient requires bedrest, doctors do not recommend regular compression socks. Instead, they might suggest anti-embolism stockings or light compression products designed for patients with limited mobility.
When a patient regains mobility after surgery, that could be a good time to transition to graduated compression socks like the ones we manufacture. For post-surgical patients, it's particularly important to discuss any compression therapy with your surgeon. He or she will be able to advise you regarding the optimal number of hours per day you can wear compression garments, based on your condition.
Pregnant women are also at increased risk of developing DVT, especially during the time period from the first month of pregnancy to the sixth week after giving birth. According to an article in Phlebolymphology, "Thrombotic complications in the superficial and deep venous systems are a major concern in pregnant women, in whom the risk of venous thromboembolism is four times higher than in nonpregnant women of the same age." (Cornu-Thenard 140) The same article goes on to advise that pregnant patients should utilize compression therapy throughout the day. Compression therapy decreases the risk of developing DVT for pregnant women, but it should only be used during the daytime for mobile patients. At night, the researchers advise that pregnant women elevate their legs.
To Aid in the Prevention of Chronic Venous Insufficiency
A healthy circulatory system functions in such a way that arteries carry oxygenated blood and nutrients from the heart to the cells, while veins transport deoxygenated blood and waste materials back to the heart. Veins should act like a one-way road; however, chronic venous insufficiency causes the valves inside veins to fail. This allows the blood to stagnate in veins and flow in the wrong direction, away from the heart. As you can imagine, this causes a traffic jam for your blood flow. When the one-way valves cease to function properly, discolored spider veins and bulging varicose veins may develop, causing swelling, discomfort, and even ulcers.
Although compression therapy cannot repair the failed valves inside your veins, compression socks work to improve the velocity of blood flow. Continuing the metaphor, you might think of compression socks as speeding up the traffic on the highway, preventing stagnation and blockages. As a result, many patients experience reduced pain, ulcers, and swelling with the use of compression socks. In addition, compression therapy helps to prevent new varicose veins and spider veins from forming. For patients with chronic venous insufficiency, compression therapy should be used during the daytime to alleviate symptoms. ("Compression") When risk factors are high, such as during periods of hormonal change or long periods of standing, wearing compression socks may help to prevent new varicose and spider veins from forming. ("Varicose")
To Prevent Leg Swelling
Edema, also known as swelling, occurs when fluid leaks from your small blood vessels or lymph vessels into nearby tissue, causing that tissue to swell. Different types of edema exist that can cause swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet, including peripheral edema, pedal edema, and lymphedema. By putting gentle pressure on your veins and blood vessels, compression garments stop fluid from collecting in your tissue and keep your blood and lymph fluid moving throughout your body.
Unfortunately, compression therapy does not help to resolve swelling caused by some medications, infection, or injury. It's important to understand and treat the root cause of edema, whenever possible. For some conditions, such as lymphedema, compression therapy is the one of the main treatment models.
For example, in a 1992 study in The Journal of Vascular Surgery, over 90% of lymphedema patients were able to maintain a long-term reduction of limb girth after participating in a treatment protocol that included the use of elastic compression garments. "Patients were encouraged to wear their stockings daily by applying them in the morning before rising from bed." (Pappas 556) The compression garments helped patients maintain reduced girth. By putting compression garments on before getting out of bed, the patients did not give their limbs a chance to swell from gravity.
So, for the prevention of edema, it's ideal to put on the compression sock at the time of day when the leg and ankle are the least swollen. For most people, legs will be least swollen in the early morning. Compression socks may be worn throughout the day, but must be removed in the evening before bed.
To Eliminate Muscle Soreness
Studies indicate that compression garments help to eliminate soreness when worn both during and after exercise. "Wearing graduated compression stockings during a 10-km road run appears to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness after exercise in recreationally active men," according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences. (Ali, italics added) Another paper, published by The Textile Research Journal suggests that wearing compression garments for eight hours after exercise also has a measurable impact on perception of soreness. (McDonnell) For athletes hoping to reduce muscle soreness, we would recommend wearing compression socks both during exercise and for the eight hours following exercise, based on this evidence.
To Feel More Energized
Let's say you're a graphic designer, and you work at a desk all day. Your legs may begin to feel heavy or even numb after a few hours. Many people who sit in the same position for long periods suffer from circulatory issues. It's well known that sitting for many hours at a time can be unhealthy, but some people don't realize that standing for long periods may cause circulatory issues as well. As Alex Hutchinson explains in an article for Runner's World, "...The elevated risk of heart disease for standing jobs like sales clerk, cook, and machine operator is real, and something that people should be aware of." One easy, inexpensive way to increase blood flow and keep your legs feeling energized during a long shift is to wear compression socks.
When you stand or sit, gravity pulls blood away from the heart. This places extra stress on your heart, which must work to maintain healthy circulation by pushing the blood against gravity. By wearing graduated compression socks, you help your circulatory system function well, which leaves you feeling more energized. Compression socks can help you feel healthy and light on your feet—even after a long day at your desk.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Compression Socks?
There are a few things to consider before you put on a pair of compression socks.
Some medical conditions make it riskier to wear compression socks. If you suffer from ischaemia, peripheral neuropathy, congestive heart failure, diabetes, or cellulitis, you should consult your doctor before wearing compression socks or stockings.
Tips for Proper Usage
Be sure to adjust your compression socks so that they are pulled tight to your skin. Use our compression sock sizing guide to achieve the perfect fit. Avoid wearing compression socks in the wrong size. If you wear socks that are too small for you, they could cut off your circulation. Overly large compression socks may fail to deliver the health benefits appropriate to the compression range on the label.
What’s the Maximum Number of Hours I Can Wear My Socks?
As long as you're awake and mobile, it's safe to wear your Comrad compression socks. Just be sure to take them off before you go to bed!
Ali, A., Caine, M. P., and Snow B. G. "Graduated compression stockings: Physiological and perceptual responses during and after exercise," Journal of Sports Sciences, Vol. 25, Iss. 4, Feb. 20, 2007, pp. 413-419, https://shapeamerica.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02640410600718376.
“Boosting circulation with compression stockings.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, Nov 2013, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/boosting-circulation-with-compression-stockings.
Cayley, William E. “Preventing deep vein thrombosis in hospital inpatients.” Clinical Review, Midlands Business Journal, Jul 19, 2007, https://www.bmj.com/content/335/7611/147.
Clarke MJ, Broderick C, Hopewell S, Juszczak E, Eisinga A. "Compression stockings for preventing deep vein thrombosis in airline passengers." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Iss. 9, 2016, https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004002.pub3/abstract.
“Compression socks can help prevent varicose veins.” The Scope, University of Utah, Jan 10, 2018, https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_u6yd3xaw.
Engel FA, Holmberg HC, Sperlich B. "Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing?" Sports Med. Vol. 46, Iss. 12. Dec 2016(12):, pp. 1939-1952. PubMed, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27106555.
Hutchinson, Alex. “Standing All Day Is Twice as Bad as Sitting for Your Heart.” Runner's World, Hearst Magazine Media, 21 Oct. 2019, www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20860422/standing-all-day-is-twice-as-bad-as-sitting-for-your-heart/.
McDonnell, Adam C., et al. “The Effect of Post-Exercise Application of Either Graduated or Uniform Compression Socks on the Mitigation of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.” Textile Research Journal, vol. 89, no. 9, May 2019, pp. 1792–1806, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0040517518780002.
Pappas, Christos J, and Thomas F O'Donnell. “Long-Term Results of Compression Treatment for Lymphedema.” Journal of Vascular Surgery, vol. 16, no. 4, Oct. 1992, pp. 555–564. ScienceDirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0741521492901633.
“Varicose Veins.” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/varicose-veins.