Compression Socks vs Sleeves : What You Need to Know

The importance of wearing the right type of socks and footwear cannot be stressed enough. Even in our daily activities, our feet encounter a lot of pressure from walking, running, and other ground reaction forces. These pressures cause friction that is why the right footwear is necessary to lessen the any more rubbing and not further aggravate the pressure.

For athletes, socks are a vital component in completing their sports wear. It is not just about the looks, but more importantly, the protection that their feet need to have from the high levels of stress brought by their athletic activities.

Compression socks and compression sleeves are two of the most often worn by athletes not just for protection but also for better performance. Both are said to energize the legs during training and other physical activities. They are also believed to lessen the pain from the common leg or foot injuries suffered by athletes such as shin splints, cramps, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles strains.

Compression Socks and Sleeves

If both socks and sleeves do the same thing, what makes them different? Most people say that it is only a matter of preference whether you will choose one over the other. There are similarities and differences, for sure, so let us try to look at each one so you can decide which is more suitable for different situations.

What are compression socks and how do they work?

Compression socks look like normal socks, but they are made to provide graduated compression. It means that there is higher and tighter compression at the foot and ankle area and it becomes lower and looser as it moves up the calf and the lower leg.

The compression helps in stabilizing the muscle and decreasing the amount of muscular vibration and fatigue. So, when you wear it during physical activities such as training or running, you will get to feel the benefits. What it basically does is it enhances your performance through increased blood flow, allows you to recover quicker, decreases soreness in your muscles, and lessens fatigue.

What are compression sleeves and how do they work?

Compression sleeves are pieces of fabric worn over the lower leg to compress the muscles during physical activities.

Like the compression socks and steel toe work socks, sleeves are used to enhance athletic performance and for quick recovery and less fatigue. The major difference is that compression sleeves only cover the calf and the lower leg. Other than that, they basically work the same.

Pros and Cons

Some athletes prefer compression socks over sleeves because of the following benefits:

  • A compression sock covers the entire foot so there is no swelling in the feet.
  • It already serves as a sock so there is no need to bring extra, especially when traveling.
  • Since the compression starts from the foot up to the lower leg, it seems to provide more compression and effectiveness.

Advantages of wearing compression sleeves than socks

  • A compression sleeve is easier to put on.
  • You can change socks as often as you like especially if you do not like the feeling of sweaty feet while running or training. You do not have to remove the sleeves, just change your socks just like how you normally do it.
  • It provides more ventilation at the ankle. Some prefer to have a bare ankle so they do not feel too restricted. A compression sleeve works just as well as a sock, but with the extra ventilation and comfort.

Different Case

However, not everyone is a fan of neither socks nor sleeves. Here are some of the reasons why.

Given that the cons focus mostly on the discomfort and irritation that both socks and sleeves may cause, it is safe to say that the better choice would be compression sleeves. The advantage that it has over socks is the ventilation and ease of use that if ever you get too uncomfortable, you can remove the sleeves faster and easier than the socks. But then again, it is still a matter of personal preference.

​Frequently Asked Questions

Question:Are compression socks and sleeves only for professional athletes?

​Answer: ​Compressions socks and sleeves can be used by anyone, even the non-athletes. People who engage in physical activities using their legs or those who are often on their feet can take advantage of the benefits of compression.

Question:Will wearing compression socks make you a faster runner?

Answer: ​The socks will not necessarily make you run faster but you can have a better performance because of better blood circulation and muscle efficiency. Just look at it this way: you perform better when you are in your best shape.

Question: ​How long can the socks or sleeves be worn?

Answer: ​You can wear compression socks or sleeves for as long as you want, before or during any physical activity. However, as soon as you feel any discomfort, remove them immediately.

Question:Is there a tendency of developing a dependency on compression?

Answer: ​While most users feel better when they are wearing their socks or sleeves, there have been no reported cases of dependency yet.


That's all about compression socks vs Compression sleeves. Hope this will help you a lot. Feel free to contact us anything more you want from us about your footwear.

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