Footless Compression Leggings: Fashion vs. Medical, Key Features & How to Find your Perfect Pair
When I began wearing compression in 2008, I had to wear a stocking that covered my full leg due to the location of my DVT. Since it extended up my calf to behind my knee, a sock didn’t provide enough length to manage the symptoms I was experiencing. At the time, thigh highs & pantyhose were my only option – two hosiery styles I didn’t often wear. Despite this, I dutifully wore the two alternating between them depending on my outfit & the weather. Their function was amazing, but they were tricky to integrate into my clothing routine.
Living in California, I frequently wear sandals. While open toe styles helped me do this, I was sometimes still embarrassed for the piece of their foot that extended past my pant cuff. As my condition healed & symptoms improved, I began seeking ways to continue wearing compression without feeling like it was so obvious to others. Leggings were becoming especially popular with the growth of brands like Lululemon & the birth of the “athleisure” movement. To feel like I was keeping up with this, I started cutting the feet off my pantyhose. Ultimately this personal trick was the inspiration behind the development of our footless leggings.
Since we introduced our first solid black footless version of them a few years ago, they’ve quickly become our best-selling style. To continue offering wearers different options for different needs, we’ve since added a few variations of this original variation. To help you decide whether any or one of these footless leggings is right for you, here’s some added info on their respective features & answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about footless garments.
Q: What’s the difference between something like a Spanx fashion or Nike sport compression legging & a Rejuva wellness compression legging?
A: Many brands like Spanx have fantastic fashion leggings that advertise compression for added slimming benefits. I myself have some of these (and love them) but there’s a very important differentiation between them. Most compression leggings you see advertised in mainstream athletic or department stores are simply elastic clothes that squeeze parts of the body in uniform ways to suck in & flatten common trouble areas like the bum, upper thigh or tummy. This can offer a sensation of being held-in or supported but they do not contain the specific type of FDA registered, carefully-measured and controlled compression that comes in medically conscious versions like Rejuva’s. For graduated compression to have its true circulation-enhancing effects, a specific decreasing amount of compression must be applied from the ankle to the knee and above. Special medical knitting machines are required to do this along with special testing to confirm the compression is just right. These garments are held to different standards than fashion & sport variations. In fact, wearing an extremely tight compression pant or legging that doesn’t have graduated compression can actually have the opposite effect on the leg’s circulation. By squeezing in a uniform or reverse way it can impede normal circulation
If you’re unsure of a garments’ compression type (i.e. whether it’s uniform or true graduated) one hint is to check material composition. Non-medical, unregistered fashion or sport variations typically contain a nylon/spandex mix with 5-6% spandex. By comparison, something like a Rejuva legging has nearer 23-25% spandex. This larger proportion of spandex is required to exert the degree of pressure required of effective medical compression. It’s also what makes getting into a Rejuva compression legging trickier than a Spanx version. Real graduated compression should be noticeably firm in the ankle region.
Q: Who can wear footless compression leggings?
A: People seeking relief from swelling & discomfort often use footless compression leggings. We have wearers who use them for things ranging from preventative reasons like standing or sitting for long periods (hair stylists, retail associates, restaurant staff, hotel employees, road or desk warriors) to medical conditions like clots, POTs, autoimmune disorders, edemas. It really varies.
Q: Who should NOT wear footless compression leggings?
A: If you have moderate to severe venous insufficiency or edema or are recovering from a surgery, talk to your doctor to ensure this style’s right for you. In certain advanced cases, compression with a full foot may be recommended.
Q: You mention sometimes a full foot is recommended. Why?
A: The leg’s vascular system starts in the foot. Giving that area a hug of support along with the ankle captures all the veins & valves that begin in that lowest region. This is why we recommend positioning the bottom of your legging to cover your ankle as much as possible when you put them on. Do this by pulling the garment below your anklebone as you apply them. Also watch to ensure they don’t creep up during the day. Unintended creep up the calf can cause your ankles to swell via incorrect positioning.
Q: What features are unique to the Rejuva legging I may not see in a fashion or sport legging?
A: There are a few. First, to achieve their firm graduated compression they’re knit in a way sometimes feels like thinly ribbed finish. This is an issue of functionality & required to achieve their opacity. Personally, I barely notice it but we have had people ask about it before so it’s something I like to give an extra heads up on. They’re not perfectly flat like a cotton legging. Second, they contain side panels on the side of the torso reminiscent of an equestrian pant. This is also a functional feature. Our first version of this item didn’t have those & it resulted in an extremely tight bum region. Without extra room for the tush, the first generation leggings were susceptible to a plumber’s crack look when sitting or bending over. I prefer not having to worry about adjusting my pants as I go about my day (and exposing my bum!) so added this extra space in our second generation. Lastly, they’re more work to get into than a fashion or sport legging. This is another feature of most graduated compression. Be patient when putting them on the first time & be sure to do so from a sitting position. It’s worth it!
Q: What’s the best way to put them on?
A: Do not bunch them up like you would a cotton sock or legging. This concentrates the compression & will make them impossible to get on. Instead, keep them laid out flat on the floor. Sit down & begin sliding ONE foot in first. Slowly pull that leg over your foot & heel bit by bit. As you gather more fabric on the other side of your heel, start inching the leg up your calf. Don’t go all the way up above your knee or it will be tough to get on the other leg. Repeat the same lower half of the leg on your remaining side. Once knee high on both, then continue slowly pulling up the remainder of the garment over the thighs. After pulling up to your waist, hold the waistband out & slide your hand palm facing out down your thigh, pulling the garment up to flatten & adjust. This is my secret trick for getting them positioned just right! Ensure the crotch is all the way up to your groin to avoid them slipping down through your day. If they aren’t pulled up properly from the start, they can become a drag (literally).
Q: What’s the difference between a footless & stirrup Rejuva legging?
A: The only difference between the footless & stirrup Rejuva leggings is an added piece of material connected to the end of the leg that wraps around the arch of the foot. The leg & top portions of the two versions are identical. The purpose of this stirrup is to hold the legging securely down over the ankle & prevent it from creeping up. By doing this it can eliminate the need to adjust the bottom of the garment through the day. From a functional perspective, this lends added support to foot and ankle veins (similar to an open-toed garment) while still leaving the toes and heel open. It can also provide a feel-good hug to the arch. From a fashion perspective, this enables wearers to wear open toe & open heel shoes. I love how stirrups stay put when layered under longer socks or boots.
Q: Are Rejuva leggings available in 20-30 mmHg?
A: Yes but in sheer leggings only. This is something we’ve been working on for a long time but haven’t yet been able to get just right. Since we want them to be absolutely perfect for you, we’re continuing our product development quest. Be assured, it’s definitely something we’re prioritizing & working actively upon. In the meantime, one thing to note about our current 15-20 mmHg leggings is that they are produced to land on the highest side of that support range. For that reason, many 20-30 mmHg wearers are often pleasantly surprised by their firm support. If you’re a 20-30 mmHg wearer concerned as to whether you would get adequate compression from them, I’d suggest giving them a try. If they’re not quite right, just let us know within 30 days and we’ll help you find something that’s a better match.