Regular readers of NurseFocus will be forgiven for thinking I have a bit of an obsession with feet. And you’d probably be right.
Being comfortable during the workday is a massive contributor to medical staff welfare. We’ve all been there, aching throbbing feet makes our job harder, and can even be detrimental to the level of care we can provide.
I have talked about finding the correct nurses’ shoes in-depth, exercises you can take to alleviate foot pain, and conditions that occur when such ailments are left untouched.
Today though, I am going to talk about a relatively new method in my armory against sore feet and legs as a result of a long day on the ward; compression socks.
I know, I know, they are not exactly flattering… However, under your scrubs, who is going to care?
There are some definite benefits to wearing compression socks and I am going to explain 5 of the top ones right now.
5 Top Reasons Nurses Should Wear Compression Socks at Work
1. Help Prevent Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are very common with nurses due to the length of time that spend on their feet in a working day.
The science is very simple and undisputed. Prolonged standing causes stress on your veins.
Blood can start to pool in the leg veins that increases pressure on the vessels and surrounding tissue. When the valves weaken and break under this pressure, varicose veins occur.
Compression socks help with reducing spider and varicose veins due to the support that they provide against the leg. They help to eliminate the build-up of blood that causes the veins to split.
2. Help to reduce swelling of the feet and legs
Nurses that use compression socks can also reduce the swelling of their ankles and feet.
Again, prolonged standing causes a buildup of fluid in the muscle tissue. That’s the throbbing you feel after a long day, which in some instances can be extremely painful.
Wearing compression socks forces the blood to flow upwards. Similar to how they are able to combat varicose veins, the socks tighten the areas around the feet and lower legs, allowing for better circulation as the blood is moved on through the lower body.
Swelling is therefore reduced, allowing you to go about your day in comfort.
- Related Content: Top 6 Best Compression Socks for Nurses
3. Help to reduce fatigue and pain
I have already mentioned the improved circulation that compression socks provide above. This is a major factor in reducing nurse fatigue and pain as a result of being on your feet for too long.
The socks eradicate the heavy “walking-through-mud” sensation you feel as your legs become fatigued.
Essentially, compression socks help make your legs feel lighter, you can move more easily and the pain you might ordinarily feel towards the end of a shift should bother you no more.
- Related Content: Essential Foot Care Tips For Nurses with Sore Feet
4. Help to reduce blisters, sores & dry feet
A good pair of compression socks will be sufficiently soft so that they are comfortable to wear.
They will also have breathability and in some cases be made of materials that prevent moisture build-up from sweaty feet.
The result of all of this is that they add an extra layer of protection and support so that sores and blisters do not occur.
5. Help to provide additional feet and leg support
If you suffer from conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis or flat feet, the extra padding and support provided with compression socks on the soles of your feet can help to reduce pain associated with these conditions.
You do have to ensure that the use of compression socks does not make your shoes feel tight and cramped, however, with the right roominess, the support such socks provide will make a big difference.
Extra support applies to the length of the leg too, however, the benefits of this have already been covered in terms of reduced pain, swelling, and the potential onset of varicose veins.
Compression Socks – Any Side Effects?
So, is it all plain sailing with compression socks? The above benefits all apply, however, there are some precautions you should take when using compression socks.
The important issue is to use them safely. Misuse of compression socks was the predominant problem that a 2007 study found.
They are pressing against your skin and while wearing these socks (especially when new to them), you should check your legs daily for any skin irritation or redness.
The fact is, ill-fitting stockings, or if you don’t put them on or take them off properly could cause you discomfort, skin abrasions, and sometimes even nerve damage.
While not common, it could also be that you are allergic to the stocking material.
Essentially, when wearing compression socks for the first time, you should look out for any side effects and respond accordingly.
- Related Content: Best Shoes for Nurses with Plantar Fasciitis
Whether you’re at work or decide to wear compression socks at home, any nurse can benefit from the many advantages they provide.
If you suffer from sore feet at all during or after a shit, I recommend you experiment with some compression socks immediately. You won’t be disappointed.
- “Lower Limb Varicose Veins among Nurses: A Single-Center Cross-Sectional Study in Mansoura, Egypt”. Hala S. Abou-ElWafa, Aml A. M. El-Metwaly, and Abdel-Hady El-Gilany, 2020 Sep-Dec; 24(3): 172–177. doi: 10.4103/ijoem.IJOEM_264_19
- “Vascular Disease Patient Information Page: Compression therapy”. Natalie S Evans, Elizabeth Z Ratchford, April 8, 2021, doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1358863X211002263
- “Comparison of Physiological Effects Induced by Two Compression Stockings and Regular Socks During Prolonged Standing Work”. Garcia, M.-G., Roman, M. G., Davila, A., & Martin, B. J. September 2021, doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/00187208211043821