Compression Socks vs. Sleeves

You may be wondering: “What, exactly, is the point of compression sleeves? Are they better than socks? Do they offer more or less compression??” 

These are all great questions! To help provide some answers, we have put together a detailed comparison of socks and sleeves. Let’s start with what they have in common. 

What are the benefits of Compression Socks and Sleeves 

Compression socks and sleeves both provide many of the benefits of compression, including energizing your legs, preventing swelling, aiding in muscle recovery and relieving achiness and heaviness. Our sizing is designed fit both men and women (see the sizing chart). And, all our products - socks, sleeves, tights — provide long-lasting, stylish options for everyday wear. Their main commonality is that they both provide graduated compression for your legs to support the before mentioned benefits. 

Merino wool compression socks on a woman with a dog and a pinecone

How does Graduated Compression Work?  

Graduated compression is like a gentle hug to your legs that guides blood through them allowing it to circulate easier. Graduated compression is tightest at the ankle and progressively moves up the leg. This gentle pressure helps to create a path for blood flow, which prevents clots, varicose veins, edema, and DVT. 

Compression sleeves, however, cannot provide the same level of graduated compression as compression socks. This is because they do not squeeze the foot and ankle allowing blood to pool in certain cases. Compression sleeves do not provide the same level of graduated compression as compression socks, but they can still be a great tool for swelling relief. Many people enjoy wearing compression sleeves in the summer to keep their feet cool. In cases where someone wants to wear true graduated compression but still wear sandals, we recommend our open toe compression socks. Open toe compression socks compress the foot and ankle while leaving the toes free. 

open toe compression socks with woman and dog

How are socks different than sleeves?  

Our compression socks are available in four unique fabrics — making them a stylish option for every season. They feature compression at three levels: moderate compression (15-20 mmHg), moderate-firm compression (20-30 mmHg), and firm compression (30-40 mmHg). Compression socks are a particularly great option if you suffer from swelling or heaviness in your feet and ankles. The graduated compression will help keep blood moving back to your heart efficiently. 

Plus with compression socks, you don’t have to find socks to wear — obviously! They solve for one of your most basic accessories, keep your feet warm and add some style to your outfit. 

How are Sleeves Different from Socks 

Our compression sleeves are favored by runners and dancers alike. They provide all the benefits of compression, with the versatility of going barefoot or pairing your favorite no-show sock. They’re a great option for summer and go perfectly with sandals or sneakers. We find compression sleeves to be especially good for muscle recovery, delivering a hug for your calves after a long run or during an endless day on your feet. 

At the moment, our compression sleeves come exclusively in an everyday level of compression (15 - 20 mmHg) and are made of our high-quality nylon blend. 

What’s the Difference Between Calf Sleeves vs Compression Socks? 

As stated before, the main difference between compression sleeves and compression socks is the quality of compression. While both provide compression, they offer it in different qualities. Read on to learn more!

benefits of VIM & VIGR Compression Socks and compression sleeves


When to Choose a Compression Sock vs Sleeve 

Now that we know the differences between socks and sleeves, choosing which is suitable is straightforward. Compression socks and sleeves are similar in they both offer some form of graduated compress, however their uses and strengths are different. It is important to consider this when choosing between the two.  

When to Choose Compression Socks 

Compression socks are great for every day wear. They offer graduated compression through the ankle and up the calf. They also come in higher grades of compression. This makes them the optimal choice for those with chronic illness, DVT, plantar fasciitis, and those recovering from surgery. Think of compression socks as the more effective version of sleeves that will remedy your legs throughout the day.  

When to Choose Compression Sleeves 

While compression socks are more effective than compression sleeves, compression sleeves still have very useful applications. Runners love sleeves because they can wear a more padded sock with them while still benefiting from the compression. Some individuals with chronic illnesses enjoy compression sleeves in the summer so they can wear sandals and keep their feet cool. Compression sleeves are also useful for hikers that do not want to be stuck by thorns on their hike.  

Something in between 

If you find yourself having a hard time choosing between these two options, these is a middle ground. In 2022 we released our first ever open toe compression sock. This sock is meant to allow wearers to have a more barefoot experience, while still getting true graduated compression through the ankle and calf.  

“More Open Toe Needed! 
I have to wear compression socks for a while and so far Vim & Vigr are my favorites. I love the open toe variety since I'm a barefoot first human and I work from home, so these are the most comfortable and I can wear them all day like I'm supposed to.” - Kathleen Donahue 

Can You Wear Compression Sleeves and Socks Together? 

It is not advised to wear compression socks and compression sleeves together. This may provide too much constriction to your legs. If you find yourself wanting more of a “squeeze,” consider going up a level in compression. The compression levels we offer are as follows (It should be noted that sleevs only come in 15-20 mmHg) 

  • 15-20 mmHg, Moderate, Ideal for all-day, every day wear. Offers moderate support to reduce ankle and leg swelling, ease tired and achy legs, and aid in muscle recovery. Commonly used for travel, mild to moderate edema, pregnancy, spider and varicose veins. 
  • 20-30 mmHg, Moderate to Firm, 20-30 mmHg is a medical grade compression level and often comes as a prescription or recommendation by a healthcare provider. Please consult with your healthcare provider before choosing this level of support. Commonly used for moderate edema, lymphedema, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), pre and post-surgical applications, moderate spider and varicose veins. 
  • 30-40 mmHg, Firm, 30-40 mmHg is a prescription compression level and is often prescribed by a doctor for treating health conditions such as venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and lymphedema. Please consult with your healthcare provider before choosing this level of support. 
Merino wool compression socks around a fire

How Tight Do Compression Garments Need to Be? 

Now that we have covered the basic levels of compression, you may be wondering, how tight should my compression socks or sleeves feel? Our compression socks use graduated compression technology (designed in partnership with vascular surgeons) to help prevent blood from pooling in your lower leg. So, yes, they will feel tight! However, compression socks should always feel comfortable. Compression socks and sleeves should gently hug and support your legs throughout the day. The higher levels of compression may be harder to put on than the others, but once they are on they should feel comfortable and supportive.  

Compression Sleeves vs Socks: Which One is Better for You? 

This answer totally depends on what you will be using the garments for! Both compression socks and compression sleeves have useful applications and should leave your legs feeling refreshed and supported. Compression socks are recommended for everyday wear, and sleeves are great for activity or wearing sandals. If you are having a tough time choosing, also consider our open toe compression sock as an option, it is a great way to meet in the middle! 

The Best Compression Socks and Sleeves for Men and Women 

In summary, both socks and sleeves are great options. It really comes down to personal preference! Are you someone who wears socks everyday for work? Then you would probably love our compression socks! Are you a runner who is very particular about your running socks? You might like the flexibility of sleeves, so you can pair them with your tried-and-true socks. Do you live in sandals in the spring and summer? Then sleeves might be best for you! 

We highly recommend you try both the sleeves and socks to compare. Let us know which you prefer in the comments below! 

SHOP SLEEVES 

two women wearing compression sleeves

 


3 comments


  • Patricia E. Baker

    My calf is 15” from my heal to bottom of my knee. All brands so far cause my calf to swell because circulation stops all are 2 tall.


  • VIM & VIGR

    Hi Denis – We’re so glad to hear that you are enjoying the socks. Thanks for sharing!


  • Denis G Carr

    I wear your 30-40 Heather compression socks daily. I have chronic varicose veins and your sock are most comfortable and stylish I’ve found for men. I hope you expand what you offer for men and make a more complete line in the 30-40 range. Thanks for a great product!


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