Compression socks are a popular tool used by many individuals to promote circulation and reduce swelling in the lower legs. But how long should you wear compression socks, and when is it appropriate to do so?
While there’s little risk in wearing compression socks, wearing them too long or at inappropriate times can potentially damage your skin or cause an infection. The guide below discusses when and how to wear compression socks to get the greatest benefit while avoiding any potential issues, like athlete’s foot or skin abrasions.
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When to Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks can be beneficial in a variety of situations, from workouts and athletic activities to preventing inflammation on airplanes and protecting your legs and joints during long work shifts. They’re also an affordable and effective way to relieve pain from certain medical conditions, such as shin splints or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Below are more details about when you can wear compression socks and how long you should wear compression socks to wear them safely.
During Long Periods on Your Feet
A wide variety of occupations require individuals to be on their feet for hours at a time—particularly in the field of nursing. Nurses may spend a dozen or more hours moving from patient to patient with very little time to sit and rest. Over time, this rush can take a toll on a person’s feet and legs, causing conditions like plantar fasciitis and shin splints.
Compression socks provide support and comfort to your feet and legs for as long as you’re wearing them, so they’re the perfect choice for nurses and others with physically demanding occupations. It’s safe to wear them for a full 12-hour shift to increase circulation, ease muscle fatigue, and alleviate discomfort after your shift is over.
During and After Exercise
Compression socks can be particularly beneficial during and after exercise. When worn during exercise, they support the muscles and connective tissue and help improve poor circulation, which can improve performance. They can also improve recovery times after exercise by improving blood flow, which reduces leg swelling and muscle soreness in the legs and feet. It’s generally recommended to wear compression socks during exercise and for at least a few hours following the activity.
For Treatment of Medical Conditions
Compression socks are often used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including:
- Varicose veins
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Plantar fasciitis
Compression socks help alleviate the pain, discomfort, and swelling these conditions cause by gently squeezing the legs to redistribute fluids.
Can You Wear Compression Socks All Day?
Individuals who work in physically demanding occupations—such as nurses or service workers—often wear compression socks for at least eight hours per day to support their legs and prevent soreness at the end of the day.
However, it’s important to take breaks and allow your skin to breathe. For instance, a nurse working a 12-hour shift should remove their compression socks after returning home. This practice helps prevent skin irritation and damage to blood vessels. Nurses, especially, may also consider changing their compression socks halfway through longer shifts to help avoid bacterial and fungal infections.
Can You Wear Compression Socks to Bed?
Wearing compression socks to bed can be beneficial for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as venous leg ulcers or lymphedema, as it supports the venous structure throughout the night. Those with plantar fasciitis may also try wearing compression socks overnight to avoid morning pain and stiffness in the feet.
However, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before wearing compression socks to bed, as it may not be appropriate for everyone. In some cases, wearing compression socks to bed may disrupt blood flow and cause tingling or numbness in your feet and legs. If this happens, avoid sleeping in your compression socks until you can talk to your doctor about alternatives.
Can You Wear Compression Socks Every Day?
It is generally safe to wear compression socks every day, as long as you take breaks to allow your skin to breathe, wear fresh, clean socks every day, and change them between strenuous activities.
For instance, if you work in compression socks during the day and work out in the evenings, you should wear a fresh pair of compression socks for working out. This helps prevent infections and unpleasant odors.
How to Tell if Compression Socks Are Working
Many people who wear compression socks to relieve pain or leg swelling often notice an improvement in their condition right away. However, changes may be subtle as you notice a gradual improvement in things like the appearance of varicose veins or recovery from shin splints.
To determine if compression socks are working for you, check for the following signs:
- Reduced swelling in the legs and feet
- Improved circulation, which may be indicated by a decrease in varicose veins or spider veins
- Reduced pain and discomfort in the legs and feet
When You Should Not Wear Compression Socks
Though compression socks are considered safe for most people—and are often recommended by physicians—they’re not appropriate for everyone.
You should not wear compression socks if:
- You have a skin condition or infection that could be exacerbated by wearing compression socks
- You have peripheral artery disease or other conditions that affect blood flow to the legs, as this can increase the risk of complications
- Your healthcare provider has advised against wearing compression socks for any reason
It is important to consult with your healthcare provider before using compression socks, especially if you have a medical condition or are unsure about the proper use and care of the socks.
Order Your Compression Socks From Nurse Yard Today
Compression socks are a safe, effective way to alleviate pain from a variety of different conditions—from plantar fasciitis and shin splints to muscle aches from being on your feet all day. The best part is that they’re safe to wear for long periods of time. Whether you’re on your feet for one hour or eight, compression socks can help keep you comfortable.
This is especially true of Nurse Yard compression socks. Our socks not only provide a snug, graduated compression from ankle to knee, but they also feature cushioned ankles to prevent chafing and light arch supports to prevent aching feet. With a knitted, no-slip cuff to keep them in place, our socks may be just the pain-relieving solution you need.
Browse our styles and sizes today to find your perfect pair and get 70% off a second pair!