It’s no secret that working on your feet all day can do a number on, well, your feet. (Let’s not forget that sitting behind a desk all day everyday isn’t exactly stellar for your health either, but let’s stay on topic). Sales Clerks, Nurses, Restaurant workers, Flight Attendants, Pilots are acutely aware of the risks of pain and even foot injury that accompany their lines of work. It is not uncommon for people in many of these fields to work shifts of 8 to 12 hours! And to further complicate matters, many of these positions require professional looking footwear, so comfy sneakers are out. Luckily, by taking just a few simple precautions, you can reduce swelling and excess stress on the feet, resulting in much less pain and discomfort.
Buy the right shoes…in the right size: As you may have guessed, wearing supportive and comfortable shoes while working on your feet is extremely important. Definitely try to avoid narrow-toed shoes or high heels. There are many shoes out there that aid in absorbing shock, distributing weight and supporting the foot. Proper fit is also important—shoes that are too big or too small will add to foot fatigue and foot pain.
Rotate Shoes: Changing shoes every other day or even during the day can help to alleviate foot pain and fatigue by changing the pressure points and support of your foot, providing relief to overused areas and activating different muscle groups. So, avoid the temptation to have just one pair of “work shoes” reward yourself for all that hard work by going shopping! Your feet will thank you.
Reduce the time spent standing or walking: Alternate standing and walking with sitting whenever possible. Sitting a few minutes every hour can provide some relaxation and relief for tired legs. If that is not an option, walking will also provide benefits by increasing blood flow to the legs. When that is not an option either, shifting balance from one leg to the other will allow one leg to rest while the other supports the body.
Use insoles, inserts, arch supports or orthotics: Everyone’s feet are different and may have additional support needs. If you have abnormal foot mechanics, such as over pronation/flat arches, an arch support may help keep your foot in the correct position, supporting your arches and reducing stress on your feet, lower legs and back.
Pay attention to your sock choice: Believe it or not, socks can make a big difference in your comfort. Socks use technology to help the foot in many ways, such as wicking moisture away from the foot to keep it dry. Antibacterial or copper socks can help reduce foot odor, anti-friction socks can prevent blisters and hot spots, many socks have additional padding under the balls or heels of the foot or across the instep, and some socks even support the arch with additional stretch material.
If possible, modify the floor surface: Most buildings have concrete floors, the worst surface to stand on. Any type of padding, mats, carpet or even cardboard will decrease the impact on the feet. The best type of padding is an anti-fatigue mat. Clearly if you are a flight attendant, this might not be feasible. But cashiers, this is something you might consider.
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