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Why Every Nurse Should Wear Compression Socks

Leg-down shot of a woman in black leggings with grey (non-compression) socks with a green mug between her feet.

Let’s face it: nurses go through a lot, and it’s hard for non-nurses to understand. Most of us never have to wonder if we’ll get 10 minutes too scarf down lunch, use the bathroom, or just sit down. Nurses do. It’s not uncommon for nurses to skip their federally mandated 15-minute breaks because of staffing shortages or too much work. Nor is it uncommon for nurses to not take a single break during a 12-hour shift.

All this overwork is damaging to the body (specifically the legs) and mind alike, contributing to burnout and high turnover in a big way. It also contributes to spine problems like slipped discs and heart problems later in life.

Luckily, compression socks are here to help. The socks, often gradated, can help nurses cope with the aches and pains of their jobs, and no nurse should be without a pair (or three).

If you’re wondering what the big deal about compression socks is, you aren’t alone. So we put together some reasons why no nurse should be without these helpful garments.

They’re Clinically Proven to Reduce Pain, Swelling, and Improve the General Well-Being of the Wearers

Compression therapy is an extremely good treatment solution with a history that dates back to thousands of years BCE. But it’s only been in the past hundred years or so that the details of compression’s benefits for the body have been closely studied.

What one such study found was that compression is even better for you than previously thought. “Many studies that investigated the effectiveness of graduated compression stockings in patients of all CEAP classes reported improvement in symptoms such as pain and swelling and in activity levels and well-being,” wrote Chung Sim Lim, one of the authors of the study.

By the way, graduated compression means that compression isn’t the same at the ankle as it is at the calf. Graduated compression helps to get all the benefits of compression without overly constricting the leg. It’s worth noting that all of Cutieful’s compression socks are graduated.

So when you consider the extreme physical and mental demands of nursing, wearing a garment that’s been proven to improve circulation and general well-being seems like a pretty good choice.

They Help Compensate for the Lack of Breaks

Breaks aren’t legally mandated by the federal government (or Ohio!) That said, if there’s one group that desperately needs more frequent breaks, it’s nurses. Three 15-minute breaks and one uninterrupted meal period is the unofficial standard for 12-hour nursing shifts, but the reality is that nurses skip these breaks much of the time. These breaks are useful for going to the bathroom, eating, or just sitting down to recollect and refocus—all things that end up improving a nurse’s morale and ability to care for their patients.

There are lots of reasons why these breaks are important, but we’re going to focus on a very simple reason: breaks let nurses rest their legs. Being on your feet all day is stressful and, as we mentioned previously, contributes to higher rates of heart disease. Sitting down every so often lets those aching legs rest and also prevents nurses from having to prop their feet up and ice their legs at the end of the day. There is a difference between tired and pained legs. The less pained your legs are, the more time you have to spend not just resting and waiting for the next day, which contributes to burnout.

They Help Stave Off Burnout

Speaking of burnout, nursing is an industry with an extremely high turnover rate. Nurses are at high risk for moving from hospital to hospital, but they’re also at abnormally high risk for switching professions altogether. Take a look at any list of jobs with a high turnover rate and you’ll see nursing up there with fast-food workers, retail workers, and the much-hated meter readers.

Nursing has such a high turnover rate for lots of reasons: it is an emotionally draining job with long hours and often-mandatory overtime, nurses are generally underappreciated, and older staff members are often hostile to new nurses. So it starts to make sense why nurses having to rest and ice their legs for an hour after work contributes to burnout: it takes away from the little free time they do have.

But with compression socks, many nurses report that they no longer have to rest and ice their legs after a long shift. Score one for compression!

They Let You Accessorize

Whether you work in a hospital with a strict dress code or one that lets you come in wearing Hawaiian flower scrubs, compression socks let nurses add a splash of color to an otherwise-plain uniform. Patterned compression socks are popular for the same reason fuzzy and graphic socks are popular: they’re fun!

Want to rock colorful anchors? We’ve got ‘em. How about Autumn-themed cats and dogs? Right this way. Skulls with pinks bows? Check it out. Cutieful’s compression socks let you express yourself in a way you probably never have before: with your socks.

Interested? Check Out Our Collection

Whether you’re a frustrated nurse or just shopping for one, we hope we’ve convinced you a little bit of the magic that are compression socks. If you’re browsing and not sure where to start, why not check out our best sellers?

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Pregnancy and Compression Socks: What You Need to Know

Pregnant women with leggings

Pregnancy is a time in life for women where the focus shifts from self and a significant other to their child. Women who engaged in unhealthy behaviors before getting pregnant, such as smoking or frequent alcohol consumption, showed marked decreases, and many times complete elimination in such behavior after they learned that they were pregnant, according to a study performed by the Society of Wetland Scientists.

Compression stockings are brought up as a panacea for pregnancy ailments, which leaves people wondering if they’re too good to be true. People have many questions on compression stockings: How do they work? Are they safe? What are their downsides? We’re here to answer those questions and more.

Pregnancy, Swelling, and Compression Socks

When you’re pregnant, most of your body’s processes slow down to prepare to accommodate the new life inside you. Your body also produces more blood for the same reason. In addition, your growing uterus puts pressure on your vena cava, a vein that carries blood from the legs and feet to the heart, hindering the already slowed blood flow. Finally, the legs are already difficult for blood to travel through since the heart has to pump blood against gravity there. Together, these factors lead to swollen, painful legs. This is called edema, and it’s a completely normal part of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, normal doesn’t mean pleasant. Many women complain of the swelling being uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful. Compression socks are an easy and affordable way to get blood pumping the way it should.

Will Compression Socks Prevent or Reduce My Leg Pain During Pregnancy?

Almost always. Compression socks are so good at relieving edema pain that whenever edema is mentioned, compression socks are usually mentioned, too.

Do Compression Socks Help Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?

Yes. We’ve written before about compression socks’ ability to manage varicose veins, but the three best ways to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy are to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time, get regular exercise, and wear some sort of compression socks/stockings.

You should also know that if you didn’t develop varicose veins until the first time you got pregnant, it’s likely that they will go away after shortly after you give birth. Varicose veins are more likely to show up during pregnancy because of all the extra work the body does during that time. Once the stress of pregnancy goes away, varicose veins often go away with it.

Will Compression Socks Prevent Blood Clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis?

No, they won’t prevent them. However, they will greatly reduce the risk of getting them. That’s why if you only wear compression socks once during your pregnancy, it should be during a long car or plane ride, since that’s when you’re most likely to develop dangerous blood clots.

Will Compression Socks Dislodge a Current Blood Clot?

No, and it’s a good thing that they don’t, since a dislodged blood clot can be deadly. In many cases, wearing compression socks is a part of the treatment for an existing blood clot. Of course, consult your doctor before making any sort of decision regarding this.

What Do the Different Compression Values Mean?

Compression socks apply graded compression, which means that how hard they squeeze on your ankles is different than how hard they squeeze your calves. So, when a compression sock says it has 15-20mmHg compression, that means that it applies harder pressure around your feet and lighter pressure as the sock moves up your leg. This gradation helps compression socks to be comfortable while still assisting blood’s journey to the heart.

Compression socks stronger than 15-20mmHg must be prescribed by a doctor. Try a pair and see if it works for you before scheduling an appointment with your doctor.

Will I Put My Baby at Risk if I Don’t Wear Compression Socks?

Since there are only benefits, no downsides, to compression during pregnancy, you could say that. It’s more helpful, though, to consider the perks of compression. Better blood flow means that your baby is getting more of nutrients it needs. Plus, compression socks help to prevent blood clots, which can be fatal to you and your baby.

Is There Any Difference between Compression Socks/Stocking and Maternity Stockings?

Nope! Maternity stockings are just rebranded compression stockings.

Can I Sleep In Compression Socks While Pregnant?

You can, but some people find it uncomfortable. There is no harm in not wearing your socks 24 hours a day, so if it helps your pain or gives you more peace of mind, go for it.

Are There Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Wear Compression Socks?

If you don’t mind that sometimes they’re a little hard to put on, nope! Wearing compression socks during pregnancy poses absolutely no risk to either you or your child. If you ever have questions about that, though, you should consult your doctor about it.

You should know, however, that if you wear compression socks that don’t fit, they won’t work properly and will likely be uncomfortable.

Here’s to a smooth, healthy pregnancy!

Hopefully as you move forward in your motherly journey, you feel more informed to make decisions for you and your baby! If you’re looking for a place to buy some cute compression socks, check out our store!

If you’re looking to learn more about compression socks, check out our blog. “The History of Compression Socks” is a great place to start.

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6 Ways Nurses Stay Healthy and Avoid Getting Sick

Nurse washing her hands

Nurses are constantly in danger of getting sick. “Doctors,” said Arnold Relman, late editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, “spend more time with their computers than at the bedside.” It’s the nurses who pick up that lost bedside time.

Hospitals are filled to the brim with germs despite their attempts to keep sterile. It’s hardly their fault—any place that houses so many sick people is bound to be a breeding ground for germs. But pair germy hospitals with nurses’ constant interactions with sick patients, and you’ve got a recipe for a lot of sick nurses.

And yet, nurses don’t get sick any more than the average American, who gets sick about 3.5 times per year.

How do they do it? It turns out that nurses take special precautions to make sure that they don’t get sick. We’re going to share some of their secrets with you today.

Nurses Love Their Jobs

Nursing has some downsides: a first-hand look at death, inconvenient hours, long periods of time without sitting down or even taking a break, and constant underappreciation. Being a nurse is a scary and overwhelming career. So why does anybody do it?

The answer is simple: because nurses want to help people. They are genuinely wonderful. There’s no denying that nursing is a position that has excellent growth potential and pay. However, the real reason people become nurses is because they’re caregivers at heart. Nurses put up with the disrespect, long days, and achy feet because they care the people around them. And it shows: nursing has been the most trusted occupation in America for 15 years.

Nurses take up the Caduceus because they want to make a difference in people’s lives. The satisfaction that they get from doing that contributes a lot to the happiness and pleasure of being a nurse. Since unhappiness and stress have been shown to have a relationship with illness and other health problems, feeling fulfilled by their work keeps nurses healthier.

Nurses Manage Their Stress

It’s no secret to anybody that nursing is a stressful and emotionally draining job. With long, fast-paced days, how could it not be? Nurses are aware of the stresses of their job more than most careers, and they take more steps to cope with that stress. In fact, the American Nurses Association has articles dedicated to teaching nurses how to handle stressful days.

Staying as stress-free as possible is important, because stress actually weakens the immune system, leading to more frequent illness. WebMD lists a physical symptom of stress as “frequent colds and infections.”

If you’re looking for ways to help a nurse in your life combat stress, consider a professional massage. Massages have been proven to fight against stress.

Nurses (Try to) Get Enough Sleep

How much (and well) you sleep is directly related to the strength of your immune system. Admittedly, nurses struggle with getting enough sleep—especially nurses that work the night shift.

However, nursing is a higher-stake job than most, and they know that a night of good sleep might be the difference between life and death for one of their patients. So to nurses, sleep is about more than just feeling rested in the morning.

Nurses Wash Their Hands (A Lot)

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick, says the CDC. Not only that, but washing your hands also helps combat the rise in antibiotic resistance.

Healthcare workers, nurses specifically, wash their hands more than any other profession. Most healthcare workers wash their hands up to 30 times per shift, and for nurses that number goes up as high as 100 times per shift! Nurses’ thorough handwashing keeps both themselves and their patients healthier.

Nurses are Mindful of What They Touch

Along with washing their hands, nurses take extra care not to touch things that many other people touch, like guardrails, whenever possible. Most people don’t consider this, but because hospitals are so germ-filled, these places are extra dirty and pose a risk of contaminating patients. Therefore, nurses steer clear of this wherever possible and keep themselves healthier in the process.

Nurses Get More Exercise than The Average American

Nurses get good exercise. Even if a nurse does absolutely no exercise (or even walking) outside of work, she still walks almost twice as much during a shift as the average American walks per day (5,900 steps, or about 3 miles per day). That exercise helps keep nurses’ hearts beating strongly and their immune systems working well.

All that walking is actually better for nurse’s health than if they were running marathons. It’s true that exercise, particularly cardio, is extremely healthy. However, intense cardio, defined as running for 60 minutes or more without stopping, sends the body (and immune system) into shock for about 3 days. During those 3 days, you are especially susceptible to getting sick.

All of that standing and walking is hard on the legs, though. That’s why so many nurses wear compression socks: to keep leg pain down during those 12-hour shifts when they never get a chance to sit down.

Apply These Principles for a Healthier Life

There you have it! Now you’ve taken a glimpse into the habits that keep nurses as healthy as the rest of the population. If you have a nurse in your life, make sure she knows how much you value her. Christmas is coming up. Why not get her a professional massage or a pair of cute, festive compression socks?

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5 Ways to Prevent Pain After Standing All Day

Woman with pink boots and Uggs standing over autumn foliage

33% of nurses in America suffer from chronic foot and back pain. If that wasn’t bad enough, healthcare workers injure their backs 450% more often than any other kind of worker. Most of these back injuries happen while moving patients, but the feet and legs often swell after a long day of standing. These injuries can get to the point that they end careers, and they contribute greatly to the worldwide nursing shortage.

If you’re one of the 33%, whether you’re a nurse or another worker who is on their feet all day, here are some ways you can make that pain go away, and avoid other problems in the future.

1: Exercise

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your body, period. It helps keep your weight under control, reduces your risk of disease, makes you happier, makes you smarter, boosts your energy, reduces stress and it helps you sleep better. It has even more benefits for people who spend their days standing. Since nurses are on their feet so much, the muscles in their legs, backs and cores get fatigued. Once fatigued, muscles do not properly support the body, leading to pain and poor posture. Exercise treats that pain by strengthening the muscles, allowing them to endure more before wearing out.

2: Get Better Shoes

Your feet are an essential part of your work as a nurse, so proper shoes are important. When we say “proper,” we’re referring to shoes that accommodate both your foot’s natural shape and amount of time you spend on your feet during the day. Feet are shaped the way they are because that shape most efficiently distributes the body’s weight across them. When a pair of shoes does not accommodate your foot’s natural shape, your legs, knees, and hips become misaligned.

It’s difficult to give a shoe recommendation that accommodates everybody, and online forums are often no more helpful—some swear by one type of shoe, others denounce it and swear by another. In the end, there is no right shoe. There is only the right shoe for you. Your perfect shoe depends on your height, weight, arch, lifestyle, and more. The only way to learn which pair is right for you is to do research, try some on, work with someone at a shoe store and see which ones feel best.

Two of the most popular brands are Dansko and Crocs, and they tend to be expensive—around $150 dollars. If you’re shocked at the price tag, consider that good shoes are an investment towards your quality of life and your future as a nurse.

3: Fix Your Posture

Bad posture can either be the cause of your pain or an accessory to it. Either way, bad posture isn’t good for anyone—least of all nurses. When you have bad posture, extra pressure gets put onto certain muscles; other ones get neglected entirely. Eventually, the overused muscles tire out and stretch, while the underused ones weaken and shrink.

Bad posture also puts excess pressure on your spine, which is a leading cause of both lower back and neck pain.

We should note that proper posture doesn’t just apply to standing still, but also when sitting down or lifting something. If you bend at your back (instead of your hips) or lift with your back (instead of your legs), then you put a tremendous amount of pressure on your spine that would otherwise be distributed across stronger, more capable body parts. Correcting your posture will ensure that all of your muscles work together perfectly to support your body. Some studies have even shown that improving your posture makes you happier!

This article goes in depth about the types of posture problems, what muscles each over- and under-utilizes and what stretches you can do to fix them.

4: Stretch Daily

Nurses should consider stretching before and/or after a long day. Stretching before work energizes you, gets you ready for the day, and helps you move better. Stretching after work helps relieve your sore muscles and helps those muscles perform better the next day.

There are countless benefits to stretching both as a nurse and as a human. Stretching reduces stress, increases blood flow to the brain, and even lowers blood sugar. Just head to Google and search “stretches for nurses.” You’ll find dozens of articles that have good stretches, so you can pick the ones that are best for you. This article is our favorite.

5: Wear Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are best for a particular kind of pain: the kind associated with bad circulation. The veins in your legs work harder than anywhere else in the body to get blood back to your heart. That’s because the legs are the only place in the body where veins have to compete directly with gravity to pump blood. Sometimes, gravity wins. When that happens, legs become pained and swollen as blood pools in them.

Compression stockings effectively combat this fluid buildup. They squeeze the legs, which compresses the veins and make it easier for them to transport blood to the heart. This reduces pain significantly and has the added effect of lowering your risk of developing varicose veins in the future.

Cutieful Can Help You Live Pain-Free

Cutieful understands that a nurse’s job both is both challenging and rewarding. That’s why we design all our products with your comfort in mind. If you’re ready to continue your nursing career and maintain or go back to a pain-free workday, check out some of Cutieful’s therapeutic compression socks.