Ultimate Guide to Flight Socks: Are They Really a Good Idea?

If you ever go on long flights, you may notice that your ankles start to swell up after a few hours. It can be uncomfortable, and it may even hurt to walk.

To prevent this from happening, many travellers use flight socks, which are also called compression socks or compression stockings.

But what exactly are compression socks? Should you use them? And are there any potential side effects to consider?

Here we provide you with the information you need on flight compression socks so you can go prepared for your next trip.

What Exactly Are Flight Compression Socks?

Women's compression socks

Flight socks are specially designed to apply gentle pressure to the legs to squeeze them consistently. This helps the muscles in your legs move the blood with greater efficiency.

There are a few types of compression socks.

For example, graduated compression socks are tighter at the bottom and looser at the top. To get a pair of these, you will usually need a prescription from your doctor.

But there are other types of compression socks that you can buy and use without any medical supervision.

These are sometimes called non-medical support hosiery. If you are looking for the best flight compression socks in the UK, you can pick up a pair at any shop that sells them without a prescription. 

These flight socks are made of cotton. There are also various flight sock sizes and colours to choose from.

Why Wear Compression Socks on a Flight?

The main reason to use compression socks on a flight is to keep the blood circulating.

When you are in a confined space for a long period of time without moving much, the veins in the lower legs can struggle to circulate blood to your heart. This can lead to pressure and swelling in your lower legs, which can be uncomfortable. 

As well as being uncomfortable, reduced circulation can also increase the risk of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that can form in a deep vein, usually in the legs, and it can be fatal.

Compression socks aim to prevent this from happening. They do this by squeezing the feet and calves, stimulating circulation.

Inside of an airplane with passenger watching films

As such, your doctor might recommend that you use compression socks when you travel, especially if you have a history of blood clots, chronic venous insufficiency or suffer from varicose veins.

But even if you don’t have any of these conditions, you may still want to use compression socks for a more comfortable flight.

Possible Side Effects of Compression Socks

Although there are several benefits of flight socks, there are potential side effects to consider too.

The main side effect is that they could be uncomfortable and itchy to wear. They might cause chafing on your skin, and they could even lead to bruising and broken skin, which could potentially lead to infections.

This is more likely if they are not fitted properly if you use them too much or if you don’t use them properly. Always try to find the best flight socks you can for a more comfortable experience.

If your skin is bruised easily, or there are any other reasons why you are concerned about using compression socks, always ask your doctor for their advice.

At The Yorkshire Sock Company, we get our compression socks manufactured in Switzerland with a specific purpose to ensure all potential side effects are minimised. Our compression socks qualify as Class 2 (strong) compression.

Should I Wear Flight Socks When Pregnant?

When it comes to flight socks and pregnancy, it’s best to ask your doctor before using flight socks.

Many pregnant women wear compression socks on long flights to help with their circulation but check with your doctor first and see what they recommend.

Using Compression Socks

If you’ve decided to use compression socks, you may want to wear them for the whole trip. You can wear them for hours at a time, so you could wear them to the airport.

However, you might prefer to pack them in your carry-on bag and then change into them once you’re on the aeroplane or when you are waiting to board your flight.

Compression socks can be worn for long periods of time, so you can wear them for the whole journey as long as you are comfortable. 

Compression socks can also be used in other settings where a person maintains a lengthy period of sitting. This includes activities like riding, driving or simply sitting at a desk.

Other Tips for Long Flights

The primary reason to use compression socks is to improve circulation. But there are other ways to help with circulation when you are on a long flight:

  • Stretch your legs and your body while you are sitting in your seat.
  • If you can’t stand up, at least move your legs and feet around and stretch your ankles every half hour or so.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated during the flight.

Even if you don’t wear compression socks, make sure you travel in comfort. Wear a pair of soft and durable socks made from high-quality wool to keep you comfortable throughout the journey.

Travel in Comfort with Compression Socks

If you’re wondering “Should I wear compression socks on a long flight?”, it all depends on your situation. 

Flight socks can certainly be very useful for travellers. Many people wear them on long flights to help with circulation and reduce swelling and the risk of DVT.

Passengers travelling in an airplane

Whether you wear compression socks or soft merino socks or just regular socks on a flight is up to you. 

Have any doubts? Always consult your doctor first, especially if you have a health condition. Your doctor may even prescribe you some compression stockings. 

Then try out compression socks on your next flight and see whether they lead to a more comfortable experience when you are travelling.

Get in touch with The Yorkshire Sock Company if you have any questions about flight socks or socks in general and we’ll be happy to assist you.