The 10 Best Stocking Donners
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in December of 2016. Putting on hosiery is hard enough when you have full mobility in your arms, back, and legs, but for people who suffer from certain medical conditions, it can be a real struggle. These stocking donners make it easier for anyone with strength or flexibility issues to maintain their independence. They're designed for compression pairs, but many work with regular items, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 16, 2021:
We removed the Medi Big Butler in this update because it was significantly pricier than similar alternatives and its shape wasn't ideal for many users. We also removed the Stockeez Assistance Kit due to availability concerns.
New to the list, the Sammons Preston Flexible is a compact option that can be used for socks as well as stockings. It has loops at the end of its straps, which can be helpful for those who are unable to grip more traditional handles.
We also added the Easy Slide Applicator. This one may require a bit of bending, but if that's not a dealbreaker than it may be worth it for how easy it is to fold into a small size for storage or transport. It's also designed to work with open-toe stockings, which is a plus for many.
September 20, 2019:
Although the Helping Hand Company Soxon offers an interesting design, it’s become tough to find at this time, so we’ve opted to remove it. We’ve also removed the Sigvaris Doff N' Donner and replaced it with the new Sigvaris Doff N' Donner Combo Pack. This updated model comes with a cone applicator that offers a suction cup to keep the device in place as you load the stocking. As with the previous version, note that this model is not for extremely large or swollen legs, and there is a steep learning curve for using it. For something simpler, we still like the RMS Sock Aid Deluxe, which can be used successfully with a range of stockings, including diabetic socks. We've also kept the Jobst Complete Medical Gloves; you may need to pair them with a donning device for the best results.
What Are Compression Stockings?
For individuals with health issues such as chronic venous insufficiency or lymphedema, this seemingly small action can make a big difference.
Your circulatory system has a pretty big job; each day, your blood travels a distance that equals around 12,000 miles, which is just about four times the distance between the East and West coasts of the United States. This task is a tall order all by itself, but for those with health or mobility issues, the circulatory system has to work just a little bit harder. To improve circulation for these individuals, doctors often suggest or prescribe aids, including compression stockings.
So, how do compression stockings work? Essentially, they give the blood a boost as it fights against gravity to pump back up into the heart. The pressure that these stockings exert on the surface arteries and veins in the legs causes the blood to flow through narrower channels. In turn, this increases the arterial pressure overall, keeping the blood moving. For individuals with health issues such as chronic venous insufficiency or lymphedema, this seemingly small action can make a big difference.
Because this boost in flow prevents the blood from pooling in the legs, compression stockings are also an excellent aid to those who may be at risk of blood clots, such as passengers on long plane journeys, pregnant women, and those on bed rest following surgical procedures. Blood clots, especially deep vein thrombosis, are potentially life threatening, as they can break off and move to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
But not all the people who wear compression stockings have a medical problem; evidence suggests that the improved circulation and lymph flow can bring relief to tired or aching legs. For those who work on their feet all day, such as retail workers, that kind of relief is a boon. Athletes also sometimes wear compression gear to decrease lactic acid buildup and minimize muscle fatigue, although there is much debate as to whether this gear is the miracle product it’s often advertised to be. Nevertheless, because compression gear is not harmful in the majority of cases, most people can safely wear these items. The exceptions include those with diabetes, ischemia, and cellulitis, among others, who should consult a doctor before wearing compression items.
Let’s Get It On
For compression stockings to be effective, they have to be tight, making putting them on something of an ordeal. Fortunately, companies offer a range of aids to enable wearers to put them on by themselves, with less bending, pulling, tugging, and cursing. Stocking donners both hold the sock open and provide something to grip as the footwear slides up the leg, which is great for those who have trouble grasping, perhaps due to arthritis or mobility troubles that make bending over tough. A few other helpful hints will make the process even easier.
Fortunately, companies offer a range of aids to enable wearers to put them on by themselves, with less bending, pulling, tugging, and cursing.
For example, you need to make absolutely certain that you have correctly sized stockings. You’ll need a measuring tape to compare the size of your ankle, calf, and foot against the measurements provided by the manufacturer. If you are having trouble with this, a doctor or physical therapist may be able to help. You’ll also need a stocking donner that suits the size of compression stockings you have; some donners are larger and some are smaller.
Also, you’ll want to put your stockings on in the morning when swelling is usually at its lowest. Your legs should be totally dry without any lotions or creams on them. You can also try baby powder, as it can make the stockings move more smoothly against your legs as you pull up the stocking donner.
Rubber gloves, too, are a big help in pulling up a pair of compression socks. They give your hands a little extra friction and grip against the fabric, so as you smooth it up your leg, you’ll be able to manipulate the stocking better. Take off any rings, as well, that could snag on the fabric. Compression stockings are not exactly known for being inexpensive, so you want to protect your investment.
Finally, when it comes time to take off your stockings, peel them down the leg, turning them inside out, instead of pushing and bunching them. You’ll struggle less and keep the stockings in better shape for the future.
Improving Circulation In The Legs
A high-quality pair of compression stockings paired with a stocking donner can make life better for people suffering from some medical problems, but this isn’t the only way to give the circulatory system a boost. The circulation in your legs will see improvement if you follow a few tips; you should consult your doctor before making any radical changes, however.
Look for foods high in lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, all of which have been shown to help with blood flow, either directly or indirectly.
One cost-free method you can try, if you're able, is walking and stretching. Certainly, this can be tough for those with mobility issues, but small efforts often lead to big changes. In fact, gentle exercise will not only improve blood flow but also mood, as working out has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health and cognitive function.
Another way to improve circulation — quickly — is to quit smoking. By now, the many hazards of smoking are well known, so we won’t rehash them all here. But it’s worth noting that smoking harms more than just the lungs, as it causes damage to veins throughout the body, leading to poor circulation and even an elevated risk of blood clots.
The food you eat can also affect your circulatory health. There is some evidence to suggest that certain foods help boost circulation, including oranges, cayenne pepper, watermelon, green tea, and dark chocolate. Look for foods high in lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, all of which have been shown to help with blood flow, either directly or indirectly. On the flip side, you can avoid fatty, artery clogging foods, such as anything fried in lard.
Finally, there’s weight to consider. Obesity is a touchy topic, but it’s a fact that being overweight can have a detrimental effect on circulation. Carrying a significant number of extra pounds also puts people at greater risk of developing bone and joint troubles, heart disease, and more, which makes weight loss not only helpful for circulation, but health in general.