When you’re in a job that requires you to be at your feet, you might not realize how many steps you take when you’re at work. Whether you’re moving stock in a warehouse, taking orders behind the bar, waiting tables at a restaurant, or running alongside a gurney in a hospital, your feet had to deal with a lot. And after a long shift, your feet may ache and sore, which can hinder your productivity at work.
If your job involves spending hours on your feet, chances are you’re familiar with blisters, swelling, and shin splints. Working on your feet all day can cause various issues on your feet, legs, and back. Making an extra effort to take care of your feet and legs at work to prevent health issues can go a long way. Here are some tips for preventing foot pain and other foot issues:
Change positions throughout the day.
Generally speaking, sitting or standing in the same position for more than 20 minutes a day can be detrimental to your health. And when you stand in the same spot for a period of time, it can cause discomfort and pain for your legs and feet.
Today, most businesses have concrete and ceramic tile floorings that can quickly transfer cold to your feet, which is not good for your blood circulation. In addition, these kinds of flooring have no cushioning, shock absorbency, or insulative properties. If possible, choose to stand in an area covered with springy or cushioning material such as wood and carpets. If that’s not possible, then change positions to promote blood circulation and ease the tension on your leg and feet muscles.
If you work outside, find some grass to stand on while waiting for your next task or plying your trade.
Wear the right shoes for the job.
If your job requires you to be at your feet and on the move all day, then picking the right pair of shoes is essential. You may look great in your favorite casual sneakers, but they may lead to foot pain if they don’t offer enough comfort and the right arch support. Shoes with arch support can reduce pain, swelling, and weakness in the legs and feet.
It’s important to find the right pair of shoes to suit your job role. For example, chefs and waiters need shoes that can be navigated safely through a busy kitchen while decreasing fatigue, while surgeons and health professionals need lightweight, durable, and slip-resistant shoes designed to stand up to a lot of stress and strain. If your job includes dealing with heavy items and other falling hazards, opt for shoes with steel toes and puncture-resistant material to ensure safety.
The right pair of work shoes must offer comfort, slip-resistance, proper ventilation, and easy maneuverability while keeping your feet cool and helping prevent blisters.
Also, make sure that you’re wearing shoes that are of the right size. Shoes that are too small cuts off circulation to your feet, make walking or standing uncomfortable, and increases your chances of blisters and foot cramps.
Avoid high heels and narrow shoes.
Women are often expected to wear high heels for many jobs, but having heels that are more than two inches high can force the body to tilt forward, creating an imbalance from the feet to the lower back. This can cause knee pain, foot strain, tight calf muscles, low back problems, Achilles tendonitis, and instability while walking. If you are required to wear heels, wear shoes that are elevated at the sole by about ¼ to ½ inch and are elevated in the heel for up to two inches to ensure you can remain comfortable even when standing and walking all day at the job.
Wear shoe orthotics.
Orthotics are insoles for the shoes designed to offer shock absorption, better foot biomechanics, and arch support, which can help reduce pain in the foot, leg, and back. These are particularly helpful for preventing and treating plantar fasciitis. Custom-made orthotics can be expensive without medical coverage, so if you don’t have a medical condition but want extra comfort and protection, you can buy off-the-shelf insoles. To accommodate the orthotics, you may have to buy shoes that are a bit bigger than you normally would.
Wear compression socks or stockings.
Compression socks and stockings can offer support to muscles and blood vessels in the lower leg, which can help reduce edema or swelling and promote better circulation. They are found online, at medical supply stores, and sometimes at pharmacies and doctor’s offices. These kinds of socks or stockings are essential for people with venous insufficiency or varicose veins. If you are at risk for developing these conditions, you can wear compression socks to prevent them.
Get a massage.
Get a foot massage from a therapist or a family member or friend. Massage can reduce muscle tension and promote better blood flow. Let them rub from the toe and work towards the calf to help the venous blood return to the heart.
If you need to massage yourself, use a wooden roller under the feet to get a decent massage without straining your hands. You can also roll your foot from heel to toe over a baseball or a tennis ball. The gentle massage from the ball can stretch tight foot muscles.
Consider applying a cooling lotion to your feet also. After massaging, stretch your foot and calves on both legs. Next, lean against the wall with one knee bent and the other leg straightened out behind you. Keep both feet flat on the floor and hold for 30 seconds and repeat a few times.
Ice your feet at home.
As long as you don’t have vascular problems, placing the foot in a bucket with water and ice for 20 minutes can help fight the inflammation and swelling caused by prolonged standing. Using ice can help the body heal faster.
This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but taking breaks and sitting down during your shift can make a difference. Take a moment to sit to ease the pressure on your ankles and feet. Find variation in your work and take breaks when you can.
Elevate your feet while resting.
When sitting or lying down, it’s always best to elevate your feet to help decrease the swelling. When on your bed, place them against a wall or on a stack of pillows.
Stretch when you can.
When you stand or walk all day, muscles can become painful and stiff. Stop every time you get a chance to stretch, relax, and lengthen your tightened muscles. Raise your calf to help pump blood out of the foot and back to the body. To do it, follow these steps:
- Stand stall on the edge of a platform or step.
- Make sure that the balls of your feet are on the step and your heels are hanging over the edge.
- Raise your heels a few inches above the step as you stand on your tiptoes. Hold it for a few seconds.
- Lower your heels back to the platform.
These preventive measures can help keep your feet healthy and protected from ailments. But if your foot pain persists, gets worse, or if you start to develop symptoms such as stinging, numbness, or tingling in your toes and feet – see a doctor. Pain is a sign that something is wrong with your body, so listen to it.