Our legs feel achy just thinking about an eight-hour shift of non-stop standing or a cross-country flight cramped in the middle seat. Compression socks, which come in a range of tightness grades—the tightest being prescription-only—can prevent and alleviate leg and foot pain, says Dr. Jenny Ling, a podiatrist at Metrotown Podiatry Center in Burnaby, B.C. Swelling and pain are often caused by a lack of circulation, explains Ling, and the pressure created by compression socks encourages better blood flow and reduces fluid accumulation.
If you have noticeable varicose or spider veins, sudden swelling or pain on one side of your leg(s), you should see a doctor for medical-grade socks, says Ling. But for mild aches, look for medium-level non-prescription compression socks in your shoe size.
Some good news for the fashion-conscious: The Quebec-based brand Supporo has a line of Lycra compression socks in a variety of colours and patterns, including the fun leopard print shown here. We had our tester, a pediatric nurse, wear a pair for a 12-hour shift. (She also walked to and from work, an additional hour of hoofing.) At the end of the day, her feet—typically swollen and in need of elevation—felt great. She also found the socks super easy to slip on and off.