10 Best Compression Socks for Nurses

Being a nurse can be hard in many ways. Hospitals are hectic; patients are rude; doctors are impatient. But perhaps the toughest part about being a nurse is working long shifts while constantly remaining on their feet.

Nurses typically work three 12-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts per week. While that averages out to around the same amount of time that most of us go to work, the vast majority of us don’t spend almost all of our time standing. For nurses, that can lead to stiffness, soreness, and swelling in the feet and legs.

Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy and inexpensive fix to this problem: compression socks.

Compression socks are just like socks, only tighter. They provide rigidity and support where other socks simply cover your feet. They are a tool of choice for long distance runners to improve recovery times after a workout or race. For nurses, they can be a valuable source of relief from painful swelling or blood pooling in the feet and legs.

In this review, I’ll go over the top ten best compression socks for nurses. I’ll you about their special features, the manufacturer, and explain the important features in a compression sock. Have fun!

Product Guide

Fytto Women’s Compression Socks

Fytto Compression Socks for WomenWhile not specifically advertised or designed as socks for nurses, these near knee-high socks are both stylish and understated–perfect if your hospital has a rigorous dress code. They’re perfect for taking on a business trip or meeting and provide all the usual benefits of compression socks without sacrificing any professionalism. In terms of price, they’re about pretty inexpensive. They even have a little extra padding built in to provide more comfort, which is always nice when you’re constantly on your feet.

In terms of price, they’re about pretty inexpensive. They even have a little extra padding built in to provide more comfort, which is always nice when you’re constantly on your feet.

Pros

  • Professional style is good for meetings, travel and other formal environments

  • Inexpensive

  • Latex-free

Cons

  • Could be considered a little boring, I guess

VIM & VIGR Stylish Compresison Socks

VIM & VIGR Stylish Compression SocksTrue to form, VIM & VIGR has created some truly stylish socks. If you thought compression socks had to be boring, think again. If you’re a nurse with a sense of fashion, these are definitely the socks for you. They come in a wide variety of designs and colors and look great with anything.

These socks are latex free (which is good for a hospital where people may be sensitive or allergic to latex) and moisture wicking, meaning that your feet won’t just look good; they’ll stay dry. The only downside to these things is that they can be a lot more pricey than the average compression sock.

Pros

  • Awesome designs (at least in my opinion!)
  • Moisture-wicking fabric keeps your feet cool and dry throughout the day

Cons

  • Expensive

Nurse Mates 12-14 mmHg Socks

Women's Stripe Compression SocksThe first pair of compression socks in this review that is specifically marketed nurses, Nurse Mates are both stylish and affordable. They have graduated compression and come in a strength of 12-14 mmHg. In terms of value per dollar, these are some of the best compression socks for nurses–at least, in my humble opinion. There aren’t really any special features to mention about these socks. They’re simply a good quality sock at a very good price.

In terms of value per dollar, these are some of the best compression socks for nurses–at least, in my humble opinion. There aren’t really any special features to mention about these socks. They’re simply a good quality sock at a very good price.

Pros

  • Great ratio of cost to value
  • Good-looking patterns without extra money

Sockwell On the Spot Moderate Socks

Sockwell Women’s Compression SocksIn comparison to the last pair of socks, these ones offer a bit more in the way of actual compression value. They are 15-20 mmHg in strength, which is close to as strong as you want them to be unless you’re buying them for a medical condition (in fact, you may want to start up with a lesser degree of compression if you’ve never worn compression socks before, as they can agitate). The material from which these socks are made is vastly superior to the bulk of compression socks on the market–they’re made of a blend of merino wool, bamboo rayon, nylon, and spandex. This blend makes them more comfortable and able to keep your feet dry, even when you’re running around like crazy.

Pros

  • Breathable, compressive material
  • Strong compression

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive

Jobst Moderate Compression Knee-High Socks

Jobst Moderate Compression Knee-High SocksIf performance, and not style, is a major priority for you, look no further than the Jobst Knee-High sock. While these socks might not be the most exciting things in the world, they are remarkably contoured to the form of a human calf, which creates a very comfortable and supportive sock. Jobst is actually a brand of compression sock that is held in high esteem by the medical community (they’re commonly sold to patients with venous problems). Having said that, they are truly a bit boring, so if style is a concern, you might want to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Well regarded medical sock
  • Expertly crafted

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Somewhat unattractive

Go2 Compression Socks

Go2 Compression SocksThese socks are serious about compression. They offer graduated 20-30 mmHg of compression, which is as strong as you want to go without consulting a doctor. The blended nylon fabric wicks away moisture and is embedded with silver, which purportedly helps it fight off odor-causing bacteria. Go2 has designs that range from highly athletic looking socks to the very professional, so there’s something for everyone there. Depending on where you buy these socks, they can be moderate to high in cost. Even so, I think they’re awesome.

Pros

  • Cool and professional designs
  • Odor-resistant

Cons

  • Can be a little bit expensive

A Swift Compression Socks

A Swift Compression SocksAccording to the manufacturer, these socks are specially meant to support muscle recovery. I don’t know if that’s more true for this brand than other brands, but we’ll take them at their word. Though their designs might be a bit goofy, these socks are actually designed for athletes. In that vein, they’re thinner than some brands of compression socks, which, depending on your priorities, could be a plus or a minus. For example, if you find that you like extra padding in between you and your shoes, you would probably want to look at another brand of sock.

Pros

  • Good quality

Cons

  • Average price

CompressionZ Casual Running Socks

Casual Running Socks for womenI’m a sucker for eccentric sock designs, so it’s no surprise that I fell in love upon setting eyes on these bad boys. For those of you who don’t know, CompressionZ is a highly reputable compression clothing line, that, in this case, is showing off its quirky side.

These socks aren’t advertised specifically for nurses, but they offer 20-30 mmHg of graduated compression and are ideal for anyone constantly on their feet. Like any functional compression sock, they help reduce the buildup of blood in the feet and legs.

Pros

  • Odor-resistant

Cons

  • Price is okay, but not great

ABD Premium Compression Socks

ABD Premium Compression Socks for womenIf you feel like you really need some heavy compression from your socks, you might be interested in these. They are really meant for athletes, but they wouldn’t be out of place on a nurse. They provide 20-25 mmHg of compression and are durable and dependable.

They boast an anatomical fit, a seamless toe and a thread count of 200. ABD stands behind its products: they offer a 90-day return policy and will replace or refund any order if you’re not satisfied.

Pros

  • Superb support
  • Top-notch socks built for athletes

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not especially attractive or cool in terms of design

Dr. Scholl’s Compression Socks

Dr. Scholl’s Compression SocksThe last item in this list of the best compressions socks for nurses is a basic-looking sock by Dr. Scholl’s. These socks certainly aren’t flashy, but what they lack in flair they make up for in dependability and affordability. They have 8-15 mmHg of compression and the manufacturer claims they help with tired legs, swelling, and varicose veins–which sound like nursing problems to me! Dr. Scholl’s makes their socks with 94% nylon and 6% spandex. One last thing: these socks don’t last forever. But considering their low price, that’s pretty forgivable.

Pros

  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Not as durable as they could be
  • Somewhat weak level of compression

Buying Guide

buy socksOk, so you’ve had a look at some compression socks and you’re interested in trying some out. Now you have to decide which ones. That can be tough if you don’t know what to look for.

To that end, here are a few of the qualities I consider to be the most important in a compression sock.

Gradient or Uniform Compression – Which is for you?

Gradient compression starts off strong by the ankles and gradually eases up the leg. Uniform compression, on the other hand, is consistent throughout the entire sock. Depending on what you’re looking for in a compression sock, one is more advantageous than the other.

Uniform compression socks are more likely to be used by those suffering from medical conditions. They are far more compressive around the calves, which can help prevent swelling associated with conditions like edema. If you have serious problems with swelling or poor circulation, you’ll definitely want to consult a doctor (or nurse!) before wearing these kinds of compression socks.

Gradual compression, on the other hand, is a favorite of athletes and the active. These socks aren’t medical devices, nor are they as compressive. They allow for some support without cutting off the wearer’s range of motion. If you’re a nurse who’s walking around all day, you don’t want a sock that is going to restrict you or cause any discomfort at all. Assuming you’re healthy, these are probably the way you want to go.

Compression Strength – How much is too much?

Compressing the muscles in the shins is how compression socks work their magic. When you’re on your feet constantly (as nurses often are) the blood pools in your feet and legs. That can cause swelling and unsightly varicose veins. By compressing the legs, compression socks force the blood to circulate better, rather than sit in one place too long.

how to wear compression socksThere are lots of benefits to compression socks, but there’s also such a thing as having too much of a good thing. This applies to compression socks too. You want to find a sock that is firm and tight, but not over the top. Excessively tight compression socks will hurt more than they’ll help, and the goal here is to improve comfort, not sacrifice it!

The rule of thumb with compression socks is that you want to have just enough compression to be effective and not go beyond that.

Compression socks come in strengths indicated on a scale from 8 to 50 mmHg, with 8 being the low end and 50 being the high end. Unless you’re using them for medical purposes, you probably don’t want a compression strength greater than 20 mmHg.

To estimate the correct amount of strength for you, simply measure your calves at the beginning of the day and then again at night. Find the difference between the two measurements. If it’s greater than half an inch, you should look into 15-20 mmHg socks–anything less and 8-15 mmHg is your best bet.

Support

In addition to providing compression to the tissue in the leg muscles, an important feature of compression socks is the extra support they endow upon the user. After all, a compression sock that doesn’t offer support is just sort of pointless–you’d be better of buying normal socks for half the price!

The degree of support you want in a compression sock is entirely contingent upon your daily activities and the stress your legs and feet are currently feeling. If you suffer from shin splints, calf cramping, or other stress-induced maladies, you will probably want to seek out a compression sock with a decent amount of support around the shin and calf area. A highly supportive compression sock will be able to stop your leg muscles from pulling away from the tibia, which is what creates shin splints.

You might also want to look out for socks that offer extra arch support. Really any extra form of support will likely be helpful when you are on your feet for extended periods of time.

Price


As you know by now, compression socks don’t always come cheap. Some will, in fact, be very expensive, though not always for the same reasons. How you choose to evaluate this situation will depend on what’s important to you.

One of the things that can affect price is brand name. Socks by Under Armour or Nike are money for compression socksinevitably going to be more expensive than some brand nobody’s ever heard of. In my opinion, brand name is an easy thing to sacrifice. But I know lots of people who feel differently and derive satisfaction from wearing brands that mean something to them. Again, it’s a judgment call.

Another thing that can affect price is quality. While it is certainly possible to find a functional compression sock for a relatively little amount of money, it probably either won’t be very good looking or will not be of impeccable durability.

Just like anything else, you should put in what you want to get out of compression socks. That means that if you’re serious about finding socks that will make your work life more pleasant, you might have to invest a couple dollars in a nice pair that won’t degrade too quickly. One of the unfortunate things about compression socks (and frankly all compression gear) is that they can lose their elasticity over time. The good ones will keep it longer, but you’ll probably have to pay for that.

Verdict

Alright, now that we know a bit more about compression socks it’s time to pick one to go with. Finding the best compression stockings for nurses is a game of understanding the priorities, which probably means it depends on the nature of your job and workplace. For example, your hospital might have a very strict dress code, in which case you wouldn’t want to go with some of the more outlandish designs you’ve seen in this.

compression socks for nursesAlternatively, you might be one of the many people who have developed shin splints from spending all day running on a linoleum floor. In that case you’d want to be sure that you bought a pair of socks that offered stronger compression around the calves and shins.

So–and this is important–without knowing your exact situation, I can’t really tell you that one pair of socks is strictly better than any other. The best I can do is offer you an opinion.

My favorites from this list of compression stockings for nurses are the Go2 socks. I think their designs are simply awesome, which is nice. But they’re not all appearance; these socks are meant for athletes and can stand up to the 12-hour marathon shifts, just like you do.

A close runner up would be the Nurse Mate socks. As I said before, they’re a great bang for your buck. They have cool designs (I’ve seen some with EKG patterns on them) and aren’t expensive at all.