Stand a lot? Ever wondered if prolonged standing is harmful or how you can get through those long days where you’re always on your feet?
I’m (Chris) on my feet a lot for work. Last January, on my ICU rotation, I really started to notice how sore my legs were after those 24 hour shifts. For the past 10 months I’ve been wearing compression socks and have been impressed with the results!
I noticed less leg/calf aching during my ICU and ER shifts so much so that now I wear compression socks even when my workplace is a clinic or an office. I feel they help me concentrate better at work – because I’m less stressed about my achy calves (maybe I’m a wuss!).
If your workplace is static – you are in one position for long periods of time – you need to modify what you wear or how you work!
Recently I also tried them out when I traveled to Uganda. They performed well despite the arduous 30+hrs of travel time, keeping my feet climate controlled (yes! read below why wool worked!) and ache free from all the venous pooling.
These benefits are also especially important for those of us athletes who regularly stress our bodies with sports / long distance running / cycling / etc.! We all want to healthy legs so we can climb the next mountain!
Here are the various pairs of socks I’ve worn listed in order of preference. The top three could basically be tied…they will not disappoint depending on what you’re looking for! The last two aren’t worth buying.
- Icebreaker Men’s Hike+ Compression
- Abco Tech – compression socks
- Smartwool Men’s PhD Run Graduated Compression Socks
- New Balance Compression Socks
- Terramed Organic Compression Socks
I’ll give you quick run down on the pros and cons of each:
Icebreaker Men’s Hike+Compression
Pros: They are merino wool – naturally sourced, super comfy, breathable, and don’t stink. They were my go-to for my 30hr transatlantic flight. They were perfectly climate-controlled and never bothered me once. They dry very fast and can be worn multiple days without smelling.
Cons: They are pricer and don’t have the same maximal compression as some of the other socks.
Abco Tech compression socks – performance
Pros: These are some of the most affordable and best compression socks I’ve had. I love how they have a super roomy toe box, are easy to put on, provide the BEST comfortable compression out of all the socks I have. They are a great choice for shift workers.
Cons: They do start smelling (they are polyester based) after one day of wearing. They feel best if you wash them in-between wearings. Some people might not like their funky colours.
Smartwool Men’s PhD Run Graduated Compression Socks
Pros: These are solid socks. They provide the best compression I’ve seen from a merino sock. They are also nice and ultralight.I’m very happy with their performance and comfort.
Cons: They aren’t warm enough for winter wear. They are pricer than non-wool socks.
New Balance Compression Wellness
Pros: Inexpensive, great compression in the calf.
Cons: Difficult to get on, no toe space (squishes them!). No cushion. All polyester. Not worth it.
Terramed Organic Compression socks
Pros: Organic (?), middle of the road as far as cost goes.
Cons: Not that comfortable, mediocre compression, cotton material. Not worth it.
What does research say on the subject for standing workers or athletes? Scroll down for more information, but in summary:
“Most of the studies reviewed support the use of compression stockings in the reduction of subjective complaints of leg fatigue, pain, and swelling in work requiring prolonged standing.” – Waters & Dick, Rehabil Nurs 2015. PMCID: PMC4591921
“These data provide new information that the use of compression garments promotes a more rapid recovery of muscle function, muscle soreness and systemic CK activity when compared with a control group.” – Hill et al. BJSM 2014