In recent years, the popularity of compression socks has seen an upward trend, even being described as the holy grail for nurses because of their many benefits. If nurses do not want to spend rest hours having to constantly massage or rub their sore feet, or if hoping for greater comfort throughout long shifts, compression socks are what may provide the desired solution.

The four important reasons to choose these less-fashionable socks are: 

Improves blood circulation

Compression socks help to improve blood circulation in two major ways: 1) By having a direct impact on the speed of blood flow, and 2) By leading the blood back to the heart.

As nurses may know, compression socks squeeze firmly on the legs. This compresses the veins that transport blood to the heart. It reduces the area of the veins, but since the volume of blood remains unchanged, the speed at which it moves increases.

Next, the tight pressure exerted by the socks at the ankles together with decreasing pressure applied upwards effectively forces the blood back to the heart. Graduated compression socks will help improve blood circulation. Additionally, blood in lower regions of the body has to push upwards against the force of gravity, and compression socks will aid this process.

Reduces spider and varicose veins

Varicose veins are big, protruding, swollen blood vessels that usually occur in the legs, which tend to be very visible. Similarly, spider veins are smaller blood vessels that can be easily seen through the skin, typically red, purple and blue in colour. They occur because of blood pooling (stasis) in the veins due to poor blood circulation, gravity effects and venous insufficiency.

Individuals that suffer most from spider and varicose veins usually come from those with occupations requiring standing for long hours, such as nurses and teachers. They can accompany symptoms such as aching, cramping, tiredness, heaviness and burning in the legs. Inflammation can also take place, where the varicose veins develop a blood clot, causing pain.

Compression socks aid in relieving the symptoms associated with these veins by improving blood circulation and provide support by giving more pressure that ensures blood and fluids continue moving

Reduces leg swelling

Working long shift hours will usually cause nurses to have sore and swollen legs and feet, a condition also known as oedema. It has been found that compression socks can decrease swelling in the ankles, feet and lower legs by forcing blood flow upwards and increasing blood flow. 

Supports legs and reduces fatigue

The bulk of a nurse's shift will require walking from patient to patient with few or no breaks in between, and the legs require sufficient support in order to withstand the long, gruelling hours of usage. Due to the fact that compression socks can increase blood flow and subsequently increase amounts of oxygen and key nutrients, they boost leg muscles and reduce leg fatigue and heaviness.

If nurses are uncertain about compression socks or have never worn them, the best course of action is to try them out for themselves. They are highly recommended and backed by scientific study, so go ahead and give them a whirl, and share your experiences in the comments below. MIMS

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