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8 best compression socks for nurses

Best compression socks for nurses

Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet each day, dealing with long shifts and the hustle and bustle of hospital settings. All that time can lead to a lot of physical stress, soreness, cramps and other aches. In many cases, it can also lead to swollen feet, ankles, calves and toes. A good pair of compression socks can help reduce the strain and alleviate any short- or long-term soreness. And since they come in different styles and designs, these socks are trendy and functional.

Purpose and use

Depending on the length, compression socks can be beneficial for your calves, feet, ankles and legs. By providing the right amount of compression to these areas, these socks can improve blood flow and increase comfort while standing or walking. They can also help oxygen circulate through the body, especially in and around the feet. This, in turn, can reduce any risk of swelling or blood clots.

According to a National Library of Medicine study, nurses and other people who spend a lot of time on their feet tend to develop varicose veins in the calves, legs and feet. These are usually benign, but they can become painful. By wearing compression socks and boosting blood flow, it’s possible to keep varicose veins from becoming worse.

You can typically wear compression socks throughout the day. However, it’s generally not a good idea to wear them while sleeping. If you start to notice any discomfort or a tingly feeling, consider limiting how often you wear them.

You can also wear just one sock if one foot or leg needs extra support and comfort. If you have long socks, avoid folding down the cuffs, so they stay completely straight. Excessive wrinkles or folding can cause circulation issues.

Over-the-counter vs. prescription compression socks

Most major retailers have compression socks for nurses, but there are also prescription options. These offer more compression and are intended for people with specific medical conditions.

Level of compression

Similar to some athletic socks, compression socks come with different levels of compression, which are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg.) This scale is also used in detecting and interpreting blood pressure. These are the most common levels in over-the-counter compression socks:

  • 8-15 mmHg: These offer generalized light compression and are great for walking around or standing for long periods.
  • 15-20 mmHg: Offering a medium level of compression, these socks can improve circulation and blood flow in those who are constantly on their feet.
  • 20-30 mmHg: These compression stockings offer higher levels of compression for those who experience swelling or pain.

If you need a higher compression level, speak with a primary care doctor or podiatrist.


There are several types of compression socks for nurses, each offering compression in different ways. These include:

  • Graduated compression socks: These socks are the most common among healthcare providers and nurses. They provide the most amount of compression around the ankles with less compression as they go further up the leg.
  • Nonmedical support hosiery: These usually offer uniform compression but at a lower level. They do not require a prescription.
  • Antiembolism stockings: Primarily intended for people who have difficulty moving, these socks can help reduce deep vein thrombosis. This condition happens when blood clots form in the legs.


Most compression socks consist of synthetic or stretchy materials that conform to the wearer’s foot and calf without restricting mobility. These include nylon, polyester, lycra and spandex. Some are made from lightweight cotton or other natural fibers.

Size and fit

Compression socks for nurses are usually knee-high as they provide the most support to the entire foot, ankle, calves and lower leg. Shorter options are also available, such as those that stop at or above the ankle. There are also thigh-high and waist-high stockings for those needing extra compression.

It’s important to get the right size and fit compression socks. If you’re not sure which size to go with, start by measuring the circumference of your ankle and calf. For longer socks, also measure the length of your leg up to the point where the knee bends. If you choose extra-high stockings, also measure around your thighs and hips.

Most manufacturers include a sizing chart that can help you determine the right size. These usually range from small to extra-large or beyond. Many use inches or centimeters.


When it comes to design and style, there are many bold, neutral and patterned socks. Common options include:

  • Black or white
  • Checkered or striped
  • Floral or other prints
  • Pastels
  • Bright colors
  • Graphics

Best compression socks for nurses

Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks

Made from nylon and spandex, these compression stockings offer firm compression that can help reduce swelling, alleviate pain and minimize muscle fatigue. They come in 10 colors and patterns. Sizes range from small/medium to large/extra-large.

Sold by Amazon

Three-Pack Copper Compression Socks

Available in 26 designs, these stockings come in packs of three, making them perfect for everyday use. They offer a balance of warmth and compression for maximum comfort and a boost in blood circulation. They come in small/medium and large/extra-large sizes. They have a no-slip cuff that stays in place throughout the day. They’re also moisture-wicking to keep sweat from pooling up around the feet and calves.

Sold by Amazon

MudGear Premium Compression Socks

These durable knee-high compression socks are versatile enough for outdoor use, hospital settings and days out on the town. They consist of premium nylon, spandex and polyester, so they’re comfortable and stretchy. They offer light, graduated compression.

Sold by Amazon

Extreme Fit Copper Compression Socks

These colorful compression socks are designed for comfort and support, and you get six pairs in each pack. They’re made from nylon, spandex and copper, meaning they’re stretchy, breathable and resistant to bacteria and odor buildup.

Sold by Amazon and Macy’s

Compression Socks — 20 to 30 mmHg

These nylon stockings offer mid-level compression to those experiencing minor swelling or pains in the feet and calves. They come in a pack of three or six.

Sold by Amazon

Charmking Compression Socks

These ankle-length compression socks support the toes, feet and ankles. They have 15-20 mmHg compression levels for light, targeted support. There are 19 trendy styles and colors to choose from.

Sold by Amazon

Hue Graduated Compression Sheer Knee-High Socks

These sheer graduated compression socks come up to the knee and have a fashionable band that keeps them from slipping. They consist of polyester, nylon and spandex, which promote mobility while offering light support. The colors are black and cream.

Sold by Amazon

Doctor's Choice Two-Pack Knee-High Compression Socks

Available in black stripe and white stripe designs, these knee-high stockings offer light graduated compression. They're made to keep from bunching up around the toes. Plus, the material is antimicrobial, odor-resistant and moisture-wicking.

Sold by Kohl's


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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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