How to put on and take off compression stockings

Watch the recommended ways for putting on compression socks and stockings. You will also find helpful hints and tips.

Man sitting on a low chair putting on compression socks

For more donning information, i.e. how to put on other Sigvaris compression products such as wraps etc., please visit our YouTube channel. Donning and doffing can also be made even easier – with our donning aids.

How to put on compression stockings

Helpful tips for donning & doffing

Donning compression socks doesn’t have to be a daily struggle.  
Yes, they’re snug. They’re supposed to be –  that’s what makes them medically useful. But that’s also why it can be difficult to put on compression socks, especially over the heel and ankle. Unfortunately, when people get discouraged, they don’t wear them consistently – and the swelling in their lower legs and ankles tends to get worse rather than better. 
The following tips for wearing compression socks can help you adopt smarter habits. Soon, a frustrating task will become a quick and simple part of your daily routine. 

Put on compression stockings before starting your day.

While you’re lying in bed in the morning, your legs are the least swollen, since gravity hasn’t been pulling blood and fluids down like it does when you’re standing up.  

If you’re already up and around, lie back down for a bit before you put on your compression stockings, or sit with your legs elevated. 

Powder up to make things go smoother.

A dusting of talcum powder or cornstarch can help compression socks slide on when your skin is either moist or too dry. If you’ve first put lotion on your legs, rub it in until the skin is good and dry. 

Put the sock over your toes, then work it up your leg.

Don’t roll up compression stockings like regular socks before putting them on. Instead, try turning them inside out, either half-way, or fully. An open-toed stocking may need to be held in place at the bottom while pulling it all the way up. Make sure it’s straight, and the heel is in the right place. And never fold the top edge down. 

Smooth out wrinkles from bottom to top.

Wrinkled and bunched-up compression stockings don’t just look untidy – they can hurt more than help. But don’t tug on your stocking by the top band; that can damage it. Rather than trying to straighten out a badly twisted or wrinkled stocking, it may be easier to pull it off and start over. But more practice usually means less bunching, especially around the ankles. 

Take off compression socks by reversing the process.

For removing or doffing compression stockings, it’s okay to start by pulling the top band down. Then stroke downward with flat hands as the sock doubles over itself. Finally, pull it over your heel, and then off. 

Doffing is generally easier than donning the socks, but things can still get bunched up if you move too quickly. 

Practice. Go slow at first. Experiment a little.

Taking the time to learn how to put on your compression socks really will make a difference. Consider it a worthwhile investment in your own health. You can do this! 

However, if your compression stockings still seem too tight to get on, or if you feel tingling or numbness, check with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure they’re the right fit. 

Watch our videos on putting on and taking off compression stockings 

Calf open toe

Calf closed toe



Further reading