What’s the Squeeze?
You’ve probably heard that as a nurse, you should be wearing compression socks. We know they help our patients prevent blood clots, but since you are up and moving all day, is it really worth it?
What do compression socks do?
Essentially, the socks are meant to help with blood flow. That may seem counter-intuitive since you are up on your feet all day but think of it as a way to contain swelling. Just like the ace wrap you use on your patients, the compression socks provide a little extra support to help keep blood from pooling in your feet.
Those 12-hour shifts can do a number on your tired, achy feet. Even worse, the pooling of blood in your veins can result in varicose veins or blood clots. Since nurses are in constant movement, blood clots are less likely, but varicose veins aren’t pretty, and they aren’t pleasant. The risks for these problems increase as you age, but prevention starts now.
The type of sock changes based on what you need. The most common sock (think the non-patient variety) is graduated with the tightest part around the ankle. These aren’t anti-embolism socks and usually don’t take a whole crew to put them on. (Shout out to that magical person on your unit who can slide those bad-boys on any patient in 5 minutes)
The next thing to consider is gauge. This is measured in mmHg, just like a blood pressure cuff. In fact, the pressure is similar. Think of a cuff when you are first inflating it; the higher you go, the more pressure there is.
Grab yourself a pair and see how you feel. Start with low levels of compression and work your way up. You may find knee-length to be a great starting style, but some nurses may prefer the enhanced compression of over-the-knee socks, especially if you have knee pain. Don’t forget to change one thing at a time, so you know what’s working for you. Try a pair with the same shoes you usually wear to see if it makes a difference.
Socks are great, but of course, we highly suggest you find someone to rub your feet! Self-care for the win!!! (socks for all those other days)