Aside from airlines giving passengers terrible leg room, the pressure of being thousands of feet in the air can also cause swelling and increase the chance of a blood clot. For many, compression socks are the answer since they fit tightly around your lower legs, apply pressure and help to maintain blood flow.
Certainly, if you're at risk of deep vein thrombosis, then such socks are a must, particularly if your flight duration is more than three hours. In general, a pressure of 14-17 mmHg at the ankle will suffice for the prevention of DVT and most socks will provide this. In truth, the only difference between many of them is the design and range of colours but you will want to consider how easy they are to put on and whether they will also reduce odours and moisture – there's no point adding problems, after all.
When you do buy your socks, be sure to start wearing them earlier in the day rather than just before you're about to embark so that your body can adapt to them. You should also continue wearing them a few hours after you land, again to help reduce swelling and increase the effectiveness of the sock.
To this end, it's perhaps worth going for cushioned socks for maximum comfort while you're walking around. You should also try to extend your legs during the flight and get up every so often for a short stroll, even if it's only to pay a visit to the bathroom.
These socks offer both style and function. Not only does the pattern around the reinforced heel and a solid block of colour over the cushioned toe look great, these flight socks offer graduated 20-30mmHg compression for the improvement of blood circulation and the reduction of fatigue.
They're made from a moisture-drawing fabric – a combination of nylon and spandex – that keeps sweat away from the feet and legs so that they don't become smelly. The material also ensures the socks don't cause any bacterial problems or start to irritate.
As with most flight socks, they pull up towards the knee. Held in place with a non-slip, double-stitched cuff, they can be worn for hours and, as long as they're cared for well, should last a good while too.
Created from a blend of nylon fabric that fights moisture and bacteria, these socks are primarily aimed at people who are on their feet all day or play sports. They are, however, also perfectly suited for flights and they offer true graduated compression as well as a promise that they won't pinch at the skin.
Of particular note is the maker's claim that they can be washed without losing compression and we love that they have a shock absorption effect that will reduce lower leg swelling. With smooth toes and heel seams, too, and no stitches in places that are prone to rubbing or ripping, they should see you through many a multiple-hour flight.
Looking more like a regular pair of socks, these can be worn on a flight without drawing too much attention to yourself. Graduated, they give you 25-30 mmhg at the foot and ankle, 15-20 mmhg in the mid-leg and calf and 10-15 mmhg below the knee and because they have padding and a seamless section covering over the toe, the potential for foot problems is lowered.
They're made from 80 percent cotton with the remaining 20 percent a mixture of polyester, nylon and lycra. Wanderlust reckons they'll last longer than any other compression sock too. The material won't necessarily draw away bacteria and moisture, however, although it won't bunch and it has been designed to stay on the legs without rolling down.
Having spent time testing for maximum circulation, VitalSox ended up creating patented graduated compression technology that starts from the mid-foot rather than the ankle as in most other socks. It works to increase the blood flow in the body, reduce blood pooling and lower inflammation. They are made to be easy to put on too.
Since they're manufactured using 70 percent polypropylene infused with silver, they should dry quickly and prevent bacterial growth and bad smells. VitalSox also says its team closely inspects every pair that it creates in its factory in Northern Italy, where production has been ongoing since 1998. You can choose from a range of sizes as well as loads of different colours and designs.
Having entered the market with compression socks as its first product in 2016, SB Sox offers a good-looking range of designs with reinforced heel and toe support. You can buy them in four different sizes and, like many rivals, they are made from moisture-wicking material for dryness and comfort.
Each pair of socks give you a moderate graduated compression of 20-30 mmHg and the non-slip cuff is made to stay up without digging into the skin. The company even gives you access to a free ebook called Benefits of Exercise, Diet and Sleep for Improved Health, when you buy a pair, which is a nice little extra.