How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks for?

You constantly struggle with swollen feet and aching legs after a long nursing shift. You’ve heard that compression socks can help, but you’ve never worn them before and you’re wondering how long you should wear compression socks for. Below, we answer all your FAQs about how to wear compression socks–from if they’re safe to wear all day to whether you should wear them at night.

How long should you wear compression socks for?

The length of time you should wear compression socks depends on your reasons for wearing them. For instance, if you just wanted to alleviate swelling after a long run, you could wear the socks for three to four hours during your workout and after it ends. As a nurse, you’re probably looking for compression socks to help reduce swelling and foot pain during and after a long shift. In this case, you should put on your compression socks before your shift and take them off when you get home. Given the standard length of a nursing shift, this works out to about 12 hours of wear a day.

man putting shoes on over compression socks

Are compression socks safe to wear all day?

Yes, compression socks are safe to wear all day. In fact, you’ll get the most benefits if you wear them all day. For the best results, put them on first thing in the morning before your feet have a chance to swell. Take the socks off at night before you shower or go to bed. Be sure to wash the socks after you wear them, as they will have absorbed sweat, oils and bacteria during the day.

Should you wear compression socks at night?

No, you should not wear compression socks at night. This is because compression socks are designed to fight the effects of gravity, which are most pronounced when you are standing upright. As you stand and walk around, gravity pulls on blood, lymph and other fluids, which can cause them to pool in your feet and lower body. In turn, this can lead to swelling, foot pain and aching, tired legs. Compression socks are made of a specially woven fabric to help fight these adverse effects of gravity. They put graduated pressure on your legs to encourage the blood, lymph and other fluids to keep moving.

person wearing light socks in bed

When you lie down, your feet are at the same level as your heart, rather than below them, which makes it easier for your heart to pump your blood back up to your core. This posture also encourages lymph and other fluids to drain from your legs back into the core. As a result, you don’t need to wear compression socks when you sleep. If you want to drain the fluids faster, you can elevate your feet on a pillow for 15-20 minutes at the end of the day (but not more). Don’t wear compression socks when you do this, either.

Can you wear compression socks every day?

For maximum benefit, you should wear compression socks every day. However, it can sometimes take a while to adjust to wearing compression socks if you haven’t worn them before. You might want to start off by wearing them only a few hours at a time, or only on days that you work until you get used to them. Then, you can wear them every day, all day. If you’re new to compression socks, you should also start off with a lower compression sock level. After you adjust to them, you can increase to a higher level of compression if your doctor recommends it.

koi patterned compression socks

Can wearing compression socks be harmful?

Generally speaking, compression socks are safe and beneficial to wear, as long as you follow the instructions to don and doff them properly. For instance, if you let the sock fabric bunch up, it can cut off circulation or chafe, bruise or break the skin if it’s very fragile. (This is another reason why you shouldn’t wear compression socks to sleep. They might bunch up without you noticing.) If you have skin conditions such as dermatitis or skin sensation disorders, compression socks are probably not a good choice for you. Those who have pulmonary edema related to congestive heart failure or arterial insufficiency (arterial disease) should also avoid compression socks. If you’re worried, talk with your doctor before wearing compression socks for the first time.

We hope this answered your questions about wearing compression socks. If you’re in the market to buy some, shop our collections of compression socks for men and women online.