Compression Socks While Flying: Benefits & Side Effects

Compression Socks While Flying: Benefits & Side Effects

After a lengthy travel, swelling legs and feet are painful but not unusual. The veins in your legs have a difficult time returning blood to your heart when you spend a lot of time in a small space and are unable to move around much. Your lower legs may experience pressure and swelling as a result.

Compression socks are increasingly common as a way to reduce swelling during flights.

Wearing compression socks while flying can offer a lot of benefits. And in this article we will go through the different kinds of compression socks, who should and shouldn't wear them, and everything else you need to know about wearing compression socks for flying.

What are Compression socks?

The clothing items compression socks and compression stockings constrict and increase circulation in your calves and feet.

These types of socks and stockings have a small amount of elasticity built into their fabric to help them maintain their shape while fitting closely against your body.

There are 3 primary types of compression socks:

1. Graduated Compression Socks

Graduated Compression Socks starts with applying pressure on your ankles and as they move up, the pressure applied reduces. Most often, a prescription and a professional fitting are necessary for graduated compression socks. They are often made to satisfy specific medical requirements for length, strength, and flexibility.

2. Non-Medical Support Hosiery

Greater flexibility is a feature of non-medical support hosiery compared to graduated compression socks. They are easily accessible in stores and online without a prescription. Non-medical support hosiery is frequently worn to alleviate and promote circulation in fatigued legs.

3. Anti-Embolism Stockings

Deep vein thrombosis is a problem that can be prevented with the use of anti-embolism stockings (DVT). These socks can provide varying degrees of compression.

Anti-embolism stockings are often designed for individuals with limited mobility. Similar to graduated compression socks, a prescription is needed to buy these stockings.

Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks While Flying

There's a good probability that you won't move around much during a lengthy flight (5 hours or more). Circulation between your heart and lower legs slows down when you're confined to a tight space and aren't moving around.

Your calf muscles are responsible for returning blood from your lower body to your heart via your circulatory system. Circulation is less effective when these muscles aren't contracting. Swelling, tingling, and soreness are possible side effects. You may also be more susceptible to blood clots and pulmonary embolisms as a result of the decreased circulation.

Nonmedical support hosiery are the compression socks that are typically advised for travel if you don't have a prescription for them. These compression socks are simple to buy at pharmacies or online. You can select a compression level based on how comfy it is for you.

When to Put Them On

You might want to practice putting on compression socks a few times before your travel if you plan to wear compression socks while flying.

It can take some getting accustomed to wearing them on your feet, especially in the cramped quarters of a flight. Perhaps shortly before you board, when you're waiting at your gate, is the perfect time to put them on.

How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks?

Compression socks are comfortable to wear for lengthy periods of time, so you can put them on at home before starting your trip to the airport. After a few hours of continuous use, however, pain and other adverse effects can start to manifest. That’s why you need to know about the potential side-effects of wearing compression socks.

Potential Side-Effects of Wearing Compression Socks While Flying

There are various negative effects of compression socks. Although you may be accustomed to wearing compression socks at home, the dry air, confined spaces, and unpredictable nature of flight travel can increase the likelihood of negative side effects.

Potential side effects of wearing compression socks during flying may include:

  • Itching
  • Loss of Blood Circulation
  • Burning or Chafing
  • Bruises and Broken Skin

Keep in mind that adverse effects are less likely to happen when your compression socks are fitted appropriately. Your risk of experiencing uncomfortable symptoms can increase if you misuse or overuse compression socks.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Wear Compression Socks?

Your doctor might recommend compression socks during travel if you have:

  • A persistent vein condition
  • A history of Blood Clots
  • A recent varicose vein surgery
  • A medical condition, such as cancer, that increases your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Even if you don’t suffer from the above mentioned conditions it will be beneficial to wear compression socks during your travel if you tend to experience swelling or loss of blood circulation frequently during your travels.

Who Shouldn’t Wear Compression Socks?

Wearing compression socks is not advised if you have easily bruised skin or a weakened skin layer that is prone to scrapes and bruises. They can harm your skin, and if chafing or sores aren't properly treated, compression socks' side effects could include an infection that would be painful in the long run.

Before wearing compression socks on a long vacation, consult a doctor if you're not sure if they're a good fit for you.


Compression socks are a simple and easy treatment that can make your long flight comfortable. And if you have a history of blood clots or vein conditions, compression socks might be the best thing for you as it can promote healthy circulation and provide you peace of mind while flying.