Of all occupations, nurses have among the most demands on their legs. They need to stand for long periods of time, often on unpredictable surfaces or in situations or postures that do not easily provide for frequent rest breaks. As a result, they are often the first people to look for relief and support in compression socks which are designed to allow for better blood flow in their legs and feet and improved recovery from the strain of their jobs.
In the U.S. alone, there are approximately 3.5 million RNs and LPNs. That means there are lots of people going to work every day putting strain on their legs.
With all of these demands on anyone’s legs during the workday, it is natural to look for ways to take care of your legs. Comfort is a key benefit of compression socks for nurses. If you can do something to help you feel better on your feet during a long shift, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?
A number of manufacturers have invested in the development and design of compression socks which specifically offer support for nurses having to work in challenging circumstances that include being on their feet continuously for long hours, in warm environments with potentially high infection rates.
Choosing which compression socks to use should be done with care. In our internet age, it is easy to do searches for ‘compression socks’ and at the top of the list comes a selection of compression socks to buy from the most popular retailer in the online purchasing business, not necessarily the suppliers of the best products available. Also, you need to be mindful that, even where the company managing the online platform is registered as the seller of the products, there still is not any guaranteed stringent quality assurance checks of their products that might be applied by most well respected brick and mortar clothing retailers.
What to Look For: The Basics
The first thing to look for is if the sock is made for long-duration comfort, or rather for athletics. We have done lots of reviews on athletic compression socks, but frankly they may not be the most comfortable ones to wear for an 8 or 12 hour shift. They are meant to support a runner on a 45 or 90 minute run, or help them recover after the workout. They are not necessarily intended for wearing all day long. The locks we list below are more on the comfort side of the spectrum.
Look at the compression pressure, which is measured using the same metric as blood pressure. When buying compression socks, the harsh reality is that cheap is not option. Always check for the compression strength of the socks you buy :
- 8-15mmHg – mild compression
- 15-20mmHg – moderate compression
- 20-30mmHb – firm compression
- 30-40mmHg – extra firm compression (probably too much for everyday purposes)
If a seller doesn’t state the strength of compression then the advice is do not take the risk buying those socks as there are a lot of sham products in the internet. If a seller has to be asked for such valuable information then they really are not experts in this field. You might be able to buy cheaper compression socks online, but you are not guaranteed the quality product you need. Doing a basic mmHg test on a pair of compression socks is something that any reputable maker can easily do and stand behind.
For your convenience, we have done our research and offer a listing of what we consider the top compression socks for nurses below:
Physix Gear Sport
They offer compression socks that are claimed not only suitable for nurses, but also work well for exercise. These socks are made from a nylon blend and are 20-30 mmHg and described as suitable for a 6-mile walk, which may be sufficient for most nursing shifts, depending on how much walking and standing up required for their duties. These are available in uniform compatible colours and for the level of protection they provide for active legs are reasonably priced. Reviews of their socks are positive, many stating reduced levels of tiredness for people who are on their feet for up to 12 hours.
This manufacturer offers a Lycra based compression sock that is 18-21 mmHg that is popular, available in a range of colours. They do also offer a natural fiber sock that is cotton based but may not work as effectively in a warm hospital environment. Danish Endurance claims that higher strength compression socks may be limiting and painful to wear, something which may not be endorsed by the medical profession. Also, they criticize cheap Chinese products. However, their sock is competitively priced, fit for its purpose and if the aching you experience from long shifts on your feet is relatively mild these will work for you.
For higher support, Memory has a graduated compression sock 20-30 mmHg with an impressive and vibrant selection of colours and patterns. These socks provide greater support at the ankle, which is standard for most compression socks. Positive reviews of these socks rave about the snug fit and long-lasting strength. However, many of the designs available may not be suitable for nurses who wear dresses. With pants/trousers typical of hospital scrubs, these should be fine and will be a talking point around the wards.
This manufacture offers a Class 1 compression stocking that is 14-17 mmHg and has styles to match up with any kind of uniform and probably will be sufficient for most nurses’ daily workload demands. While there is no reference in their write-up to gender these seem to be more relevant for women nurses.
As these compression socks also come in wide range of colours and patterns do check your uniform guide to ensure compliance to your organizations rules.
For best results and best economy, also remember that compression sock care is important to ensure you get the best and longest use out of these garments. It is advisable to hand wash compression socks only at 40 degrees Centigrade. If you use your compression socks frequently then they should be replaced after 3 months, as the strength of these garments diminishes with use.