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While there certainly are benefits to being active at work, being on your feet all day can sometimes be a pain…literally. As a medical professional, constantly being on the move is usually just part of the daily grind. Yes, you probably dominate in every weekly step challenge with your pedometer bracelet, perhaps even becoming the envy of all your sedentary office-working friends. However, you might also be experiencing some painful health-related drawbacks. The good thing is, there are steps you can take to help—no pun intended. Check out the helpful tips from our guest author, Helen Sanders—chief editor of HealthAmbition.com—and get those crying feet back to feeling good again!
Whether you’re working as a nurse, a housekeeper, a teacher, a hairdresser, or a chef, being on your feet all day can be hard work. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) states that 77% of Americans have experienced foot problems and many of them can be caused or exacerbated by long periods of standing and walking (source).
So what can we do to alleviate foot and leg pain, or even better, keep it from happening at all? Read on for seven top tips to keeps your legs and feet in good health.
#1 – Wear Appropriate Footwear
Walking all day in high heels shifts pressure onto the ball of the foot. Shoes with a pointed toe space squash your toes together; shoes that make you clench your toes to keep them in place can lead to corns and calluses.
For all-day work shoes, choose breathable material for uppers. Heels should be less than 2.5cm, have a padded sole to distribute pressure and absorb shock, and fasten in a way that feels secure.
There should be a 1cm gap between the end of your shoe and your longest toe. Buy new shoes later in the day as feet swell through the day, and don’t buy shoes that need “breaking in” – shoes should be comfortable immediately (source).
#2 – Take Care of Your Feet Regularly
Keep nails trimmed and moisturize your feet regularly, remove hard skin, and check your toenails and feet for any cuts, blisters, swelling, corns, calluses or fungal infections, which can affect the skin or toenails.
Consider having a regular pedicure, or appointment with a chiropodist or podiatrist to keep your feet in tip top condition.
#3 – Have More Than One Pair of Work Shoes
Alternating the shoes you wear to work each day compared to wearing the same pair every day gives your shoes time to dry out, avoiding foot odors and infections.
For the same reasons, it’s important to wear clean socks or hosiery every day too. Sprinkling a little foot powder or cornstarch in your shoes can also help to keep your feet dry and avoid infections.
#4 – Make Time for Your Feet After Work
Massaging feet, soaking them in warm water and elevating your legs (keep them straight, with feet higher than your hips) can all help to alleviate and avoid foot and leg pain.
If your feet hurt at the end of your working day, keep a small bottle of water in the freezer, place on the ground and roll it across the bottom of your feet to refresh and relieve aches and pains.
#5 – Do Exercises When You Can
Calf raises refresh tired legs, help to improve circulation and minimize foot swelling. Heel drops stretch the Achilles tendon and calf muscles and wake up the muscles in the front of your lower legs.
These two exercises can be combined when standing on a step with your heels hanging off the edge; slowly drop your heels toward the ground, then push up to stand on your tiptoes. Repeat 10-15 times.
Stretches can also be done with your hands placed against a wall, one foot in front of the other, with the heel of your back foot on the ground. Hold the position for a few seconds, then change legs. Repeat 10-15 times.
#6 – Improve Your Posture and Core Muscles
While it’s easy to slouch, it can create all kinds of posture related problems – and pain.
The trunk muscles help support and control your body. Get into the habit of holding yourself gently upright, maintaining a gentle but sustained hold of the muscles around the navel while breathing normally improves posture and offloads pressure on legs and feet. This amounts to a free workout while you’re at work!
#7 – Avoid Standing in One Position
Maintaining one position for a long time puts some groups of muscles under lots of stress, while other groups of muscles are underused.
Shift your weight from one foot to the other; bend your knees slightly for a couple of minutes.
Avoid standing in one spot and twisting from the waist – reposition your feet instead. When bending, use knees and thigh muscles to squat rather than bending from your lower back.
When lifting, don’t overload yourself – ask a colleague to help.
Although these may seem like common sense to some, many of us don’t put these points into practice on a daily basis – and that’s the bit that keeps us healthy!
About the Author
Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.
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