Which Compression Level is Right for You?

Posted by Shannon on Apr 9th 2024

APRIL 10, 2024

Which Compression Level is Right for You?

Learn about each compression level and determine the right choose for you based on your needs and conditions.

Woman lounging on couch wearing Core-Spun Gradient Compression Socks in Pink Argyle

Are you considering wearing compression but dont know which level to choose? This is a common question that many people have when they consider wearing compression for the first time.

First and foremost, you should always consult with your doctor for advice on wearing compression and what level of compression to wear. However, you can use the general information below to learn about each compression level and who might best benefit from those.

Before we dive into the compression levels, we should explain how they are measured. Compression socks and stockings are measured by millimeters of mercury, abbreviated as mmHg. Since true gradient compression is greatest at the ankle and decreases further up the leg, the first number of the range indicates the amount of pressure at the top of the stocking. The second number indicates the amount of pressure at the bottom.

Gradient compression shouldnt be confused with uniform compression, which is when an equal amount of pressure, or millimeters of mercury, is present throughout the garment. A feature absent in uniform compression, the gradual decrease in pressure in true gradient compression counteracts gravity encouraging the blood to move back to the heart improving circulation.

Light Compression | 10–15mmHg

Light compression helps improve blood flow, control swelling, and relieves tired, achy legs and feet. Most people who choose light compression probably do not have any specific medical conditions, but like the feel and comfort provided by low compression levels. When wearing light compression, their legs will feel energized. They are a great option for people who spend a lot of time on their feet and often feel their legs becoming heavy and achy after a long day.

Light Compression

Improves circulation
Helps to prevent swelling
Energizes legs and feet

Man putting on Core-Spun Gradient Compression Socks in black

Mild Compression | 15–20mmHg

Mild compression is the ideal compression level for daily wear, travel, and sports. They improve circulation without feeling too tight or providing medical-grade compression. Someone may choose to wear mild compression if they experience minor leg or ankle swelling, if they have mild vein conditions like varicose veins, or if they frequently travel long distance and are at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

MILD Compression

Relieves heavy, tired, achy legs
Prevents or improves mild varicose veins
Improves poor blood circulation
Relieves leg discomfort
Prevents and relieves mild to moderate swelling or edema
Prevents DVT in travelers
Improves varicosities and swelling during pregnancy
Helps to prevent thrombosi

Woman standing with luggage while wearing Core-Spun Gradient Compression Socks in White

Moderate Compression | 20–30mmHg

Someone who wears moderate compression often will be prescribed this level by a physician. Moderate compression is ideal for people who experience varicose veins, spider veins, or swelling or edema after surgery. However, some people choose to wear moderate compression because they want to experience more support than what is offered with mild compression. Athletes may choose moderate compression for the increase in performance and endurance during athletic activity.

MODERATE Compression

Relieves heavy, tired, achy legs
Improves moderate varicose veins
Improves venous insufficiency
Relieves moderate swelling
Improves mild edema or lymphedema
Prevents and manages DVT
Improves varicosities and swelling during pregnancy
Improves superficial thrombophlebitis
Improves arterial insufficiency
Ideal for post-op sclerotherapy or vein ligation
Ideal for post venous ulceration

Male wearing Ease Gradient Compression Socks in Evergreen

Firm Compression | 30–40mmHg

Someone who wears firm compression will have received a medical prescription from a physician. This strong level of compression is recommended for someone who is experiencing blood clots, lymphedema, severe swelling, severe varicose veins, or has just undergone vein surgery.

FIRM Compression

Relieves heavy, tired, achy legs
Treatment of advanced varicose veins
Improves severe chronic venous insufficiency
Improves moderate swelling
Improves moderate edema or lymphedema
Prevents, manages, or treats DVT
Ideal for post-thrombotic syndrome
Ideal for post-phlebitis syndrome
Ideal for post vein stripping or sclerotherapy
Ideal for wearing after moderate ulcerations have healed

Female putting on Therafirm Knee High Compression Stockings in Sand

Anti-Embolism Support | 18mmHg

Anti-Embolism Compression stockings are not gradient compression like the other compression levels. These stockings offer the same amount of compression—18mmHg—throughout the entire stocking. They are intended for patients whose health conditions have rendered them immobile.


Ideal for patients that are subject to immobility and predisposed to developing deep
vein thrombosis, edema or leg discomfort

Person wearing knee high anti-embolism stockings

For more information on compression levels offered by our brands, please visit our Compression Level Guide.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Compression products should not be worn and are contraindicated if you have any of the following conditions: Severe arterial insufficiency, cutaneous infections, acute dermatitis, wet dermatosis, uncontrolled congestive heart failure, skin irritations, allergies to dyes.

This is only general information and is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Always consult your physician or other health care provider about all health concerns, conditions, and recommended treatments.

Keep reading...

Who Can Benefit from Compression

How to Style Your Compression Garments

© 2024 Knit-Rite, LLC

Therafirm®, Core-Spun by Therafirm®, Ease by Therafirm®, TheraSport by Therafirm®, Core-Sport by Therafirm®, Preggers® by Therafirm®, SmartKnit®, SmartKnitKIDS®, and Knit-Rite Direct® are all brands of Knit-Rite, LLC.

Proudly made in USA in Kansas City, KS and Hamlet, NC.


This is general information and not intended to diagnose or treat patients. It is the provider's responsibility to ascertain the appropriateness of individual applications of compression therapy. Patients should always consult with their provider prior to wearing compression products.