The Best Compression Stockings & Socks For Nurses (And Demystifying What Compression Levels Actually Mean)

*This post contains affiliate links.  My disclosure policy is really boring but you can find it here.

If there is anyone who NEEDS to be wearing compression stockings or socks, its nurses (or anyone who is one their feet for 12+ hours a day!).

There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. Prevent or reduce varicose veins
  2. Improve blood flow and decrease risk of blood clots
  3. Decrease swelling of the legs and ankles

Nurses already put a lot of stress on their bodies, we don’t need more!  (Read more about the benefits of compression stockings here).

Since I started wearing compression stockings my legs feel noticeably better and more energized at the end of a shift.  I started wearing them out of necessity when I was pregnant and was able to continue working as an ER nurse until I was almost 8 and a half months pregnant!

I have always felt good about the fact that I have a job that is not sedentary.  But as it turns out being on my feet for such long hours can actually be worse for your health then sitting all day. So how are we supposed to continue working as busy healthcare professionals AND prevent prevent some of these insidious chronic issues?

Cue, compression stockings!

How do compression stockings work?

Compression stockings help increase circulation of blood flow and oxygen by helping increase the velocity, or speed of blood flow. By squeezing on the legs, the veins carrying blood to the heart are compressed. Think of how when you squeeze a hose, it squirts the water out faster. With compression stockings, the same volume of blood is able to move up the leg, but it has less area in which to move.

Understanding compression stocking levels:

The best compression stockings for nurses
Nurse, you need to get some compression  stockings (unless you want a few varicose veins).

I know, I know.  This is SUPER boring information.  But its good information to know for your leg health!

Choosing the right compression stockings can be difficult if you do not understand what the levels of compression actually mean.  Compression stockings have a range of numbers to indicate how much graduated compression the garment has. Here is a quick and dirty breakdown:

  • 15-20 mmHg
    • Good for everyday wear to help with welling and fatigued legs due to long periods of travel, sitting or standing.
  • 20-30mmHg
    • Medical grade compression.  Good for managing swelling, spider veins, travel, sports and after some surgeries.  Also good for pregnant mothers to alleviate swelling and achy legs.
  • 30-40 mmHg
    • Recommended when you have a blood clot, deep vein thrombosis DVT or lymphedema.
  • 40-50 mmHg
    • very strong compression for severe venous stasis, wound management, and lymphedema.

(The unit of measurement (mmHg) is called “millimeters of mercury” which is a measurement of pressure, also used in blood pressure.  It is basically a measurement for how tight the compression on your legs is.)

The sweet spot for medical professionals on their feet all day falls in the 20-30 mmHg range or sometimes 30-40mmHg depending on how much compression you are looking for.  You should discuss compression stockings with your doctor, especially if you have any medical issues.

Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.  Generally speaking with all products, if the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.  The same concept applies to compression stockings.  Trust me when I say I learned this the hard way!

How do I find and review the best compression stockings for nurses?

So glad you asked.  The best compression stockings for nurses are the ones you actually wear!  Here you go…

The Best compression socks for nurses:


Best compression stockings for nurses:


Expecting?  The best compression stockings for pregnant nurses:


There are enough occupational hazards being a nurse already.

Sacrificing my leg health is just not worth it. I can’t believe I wasn’t wearing compression stockings sooner.

As long as I am working as an nurse I will wear compression stockings or socks for every single shift. Pain and discomfort due to my hard work as an RN is so not OK with me. I refuse to have future circulation and venous issues due to the fact that I worked hard as a nurse.

Are you a nurse concerned with effects of being on your feet all day? Have you tried wearing compression stockings?  What are your thoughts?  I love hearing from other nurses!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

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About The Author

Sarah

Sarah Jividen is a registered nurse, blogger, writer, wife, and mother with an aspiration to empower nurses and moms to take better care of themselves. Sarah lives with her husband in a beach suburb outside of Los Angeles where they are raising their two-year-old daughter, newborn son and two rescue kitties. In a rare moment of free time you may find Sarah practicing yoga, socializing with friends, sampling dark beers or attending a local concert venue with her husband.

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