This content was updated for accuracy and relevance on January 6th, 2022
Compression socks are some of the most beneficial clothing items on the market, particularly when travel nursing or for nurses that spend hours on their feet caring for each patient!
Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet—especially travelers who are always on the go! With long shifts, physically demanding work, and running around trying to get everything done—all this pressure and blood flow to the feet and ankles can cause:
- Varicose veins / spider veins
- Swollen ankles / swollen feet
- Too much blood flow to the area
- Painful, tired feet
- A blood clot
But what do compression socks do? Compression socks—sometimes called compression stockings for nurses or support socks for nurses—work to alleviate these issues and help nurses do the amazing things they do every day. The tightness of the breathable fabric helps with poor circulation and prevents fluid from building up in the feet and ankles, thus reducing painful swelling and tenderness. Wearing compression socks can also help improve blood circulation and increase the oxygen levels in the area, which keeps your feet—and your whole body—in better health. Consider pairing your medical compression socks with the best nursing shoes and the best scrubs.
What mmHg Should Compression Socks Be For Nurses?
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare systems—they’re stronger than strong. And the best socks for nurses are just as strong.
The strength of a compression sock is calculated using mmHg. As a nurse, you’re probably familiar with this unit as a way to measure blood pressure through millimeters of mercury. What you may not know is how mmHg correlates to compression socks, and what level is right for you.
Compression socks are categorized by varying degrees of firmness. The higher the mmHg, the tighter the sock. These ranges are typically labeled as follows:
- Mild compression – Socks that provide only slight compression will have an mmHg level between 8-15. For nurses who experience leg pain from being on their feet constantly, a mild compression sock may not be strong enough to help relieve symptoms. Mild compression socks are also not meant to soothe and prevent varicose veins.
- Medium – Medium level compression socks are typically what most nurses start with. An mmHg measurement between 15-20 should provide moderate relief from swelling, mild varicose veins, and pain from long periods of standing and walking.
- Firm – If you’re looking for support socks that pack a little more punch, try switching to a firm compression sock. The firm label refers to an mmHg measurement between 20-30. This type of compression stocking will help prevent and relieve moderate varicose veins, more intense swelling, orthostatic hypotension, and deep vein thrombosis.
- Extra Firm and Prescription Grade – Any compression sock with an mmHg level of 30 or higher is going to be really tight. These levels are typically only used for serious medical conditions, post-surgery healing, and severe varicose veins. Socks with a 40+ mmHg level will typically only be available via a prescription. The best compression socks for regular nurses are going to be in the medium or firm range.
What Are the Best Nursing Compression Socks?
Now that you understand the importance of protecting yourself with compression socks, it’s time to discuss what the best brands are to help with swollen legs and muscle fatigue. Nurses need quality socks without sacrificing style, and we’ve compiled a list of the best compression socks on the market.
Read on to find your new go-to brand of compression stockings!
#1 Figs – Compression Socks
Figs is a company that knows healthcare attire. From being one of the best scrub brands for healthcare workers to branching out and creating lab coats, shoes, and today’s item of choice: compression socks.
If you’re looking for style, Figs is the way to go. Figs makes cute compression socks for nurses, with a variety of different colors and patterns. Whether a simple, muted tone is your go-to, or you’re looking for something more on the wild side, Figs has it all (did somebody say llama’s wearing stethoscopes? Yes, you can get those on a pair of compression socks). Why sacrifice pain for style? Well, luckily, you don’t have to! Check out Figs to find colorful compression socks that fit your desired compression level.
A pair of Figs compression socks won’t break the bank, but it is an investment—a tall pair costs around $28. If you’re interested in a cheaper alternative, you can pick up a pair of plain ankle-height compression socks for $12.
#2 Nurse Mates – Compression Socks
Nurse Mates is a brand known for making some of the best shoes for nurses. With tons of designs and fits, Nurse Mates knows how to combine comfort and style—making it no surprise that they also make some of the best compression socks for nurses.
Nurse Mates compression socks come in a variety of fun styles, including
- Polka dots
- And more!
For nurses looking to protect their ankles and lower leg—while maintaining their own personal style—Nurse Mates has nearly 100 different options to choose from on their website.
The pricing of Nurse Mates’s compression socks varies. Some pairs run a bit steeper, with a price tag as high as $34.95. Thankfully, they also have plenty of more affordable pairs, costing as low as $8.50!
#3 Bombas – Compression Socks
Bombas is another popular brand of compression socks. Unlike some other companies on this list, Bombas doesn’t make different kinds of healthcare apparel. Instead, Bombas focuses mostly on socks for men, women, and children.
The selection of styles Bombas offers is a bit more limited; however, nurses can still choose from several different colors, including bright pink, forest green, and muted purple.
What Bombas lacks in variety, they make up for in quality. The Bombas website has a detailed size guide that allows customers to get the perfect fit and the most benefit out of their compression socks. Bombas assures that your tired legs are supported with their one-of-a-kind compression socks to help with muscle recovery, swollen legs, and soreness.
The most affordable pair of Bombas socks will run you $18—however, customers can choose to purchase multi-packs, costing as much as $102.60 for six pairs. Another perk of buying Bombas socks? First-time customers can get 20% of their order by simply providing their email on the website!
#4 Poppy Scrubs – Compression Socks
Poppy Scrubs is another company that’s familiar with clothing for nurses. The brand makes stylish scrubs, comfortable shirts, and hoodies, and—you guessed it—compression socks. Poppy makes a variety of yarn-based socks in the 20-30 mmHg range.
Poppy’s socks are priced between $22-$26, placing them on the more affordable end of the spectrum. The socks come in three loveable styles:
- “Wee-woo” ambulance print
- “We make pee” kidney print
- A sleek black style
#5 Allheart – Compression Socks
For nurses who want a moderate compression sock in a funky style, check out Allheart’s collection. Allheart makes all sorts of medical gear, from lab coats to stethoscopes—and they also sell an affordable pair of 10-14 mmHg compression socks for only $6.99.
Allheart has a wide selection of socks in fun styles, specifically for nurses. Most of the pairs on their website are below $10, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re on a budget.
#6 Sockologie – Compression Socks
If you’re looking for a good pair of socks, you can’t go wrong with a brand called Sockologie.
Sockologie specializes in many kinds of socks, but their men and women’s compression sock section is particularly fun (and affordable). Choose from a variety of different knee-high styles, including skeleton feet, planets, and even a nurse themed pair—complete with chemical structures and prescription pill bottles. Every style has a low price tag of only $15!
#7 Comrad – Compression Socks
If you want choices in terms of shape and size, Comrad compression socks are the way to go. With a large selection of knee-high, ankle, and specialty wool socks, Comrad has a compression stocking or pair of socks for every nurse.
Multi-packs are the best way to purchase Comrad’s compression socks. For $67, you can get two pairs of knee-high socks and two pairs of ankle socks—leaving your feet equipped for any situation or the inevitable leg fatigue. They also have 6-packs of ankle height and 3-packs of knee-highs for the same price, if you would rather stick to a single size. Comrad doesn’t have too many options for styles, but they do have some fun colors that come in plain and striped.
Lastly, first-time customers can get 20% off their first order by using the coupon code COMFY20!
#8 Pro Compression – Compression Socks
It’s not shocking that a company called Pro Compression knows what they’re doing with compression socks. Pro Compression makes stockings, calf sleeves, and even arm compressors for healthy joints and oxygen flow throughout the entire body.
On Pro Compression’s website, you can shop by style. Their selection includes:
- Over the calf
- Low rise
- Wide calf
Customers can also browse by compression level, with categories ranging from 10 mmHg to 35 mmHg. Pro Compression is currently holding a sale where you can mix-and-match three pairs of your choice for $57. Otherwise, a pair of their most affordable socks is typically $17 for a low rise pair and $55 for high rise.
#9 Crazy Compression – Compression Socks
With the word “crazy” right in the name, it’s safe to say Crazy Compression is the go-to place for one of the best fun compression socks for nurses. From seasonal holiday collections to space-themed prints, and even a pair that makes your feet look like mermaid scales—Crazy Compression is for nurses who want feet that stand out.
A pair of Crazy Compression socks will run you about $30, give or take. Not the most affordable on this list, but certainly not an unreasonable price to pay for a pair of awesome socks.
You’ve Got Places to Be
Whether you’re a hometown nurse or a traveler, you know one thing for sure—the healthcare field is demanding. You’re on your feet all day, and you’re constantly moving from place to place. Make sure you reap the benefits of compression socks and have a pair that makes all this movement a little easier to ensure you have the necessary comfort to get the job done.
For more information on other necessary nurse garments, take a look at our favorite nursing podcasts that can help give you insight into the must-have nurse attire.
If you feel like you’re not moving enough, Host Healthcare is here to help. Across the globe, healthcare travelers are needed in all kinds of places—and we can take you there. Becoming a travel nurse with Host Healthcare is easy, exciting, and absolutely worth it for those looking to broaden their horizons while doing what they love. Don’t be afraid to bring your skills elsewhere; your next adventure is just a few clicks away.