If You Work on Your Feet
Working on your feet all day can do a number on your feet,
legs, and back. According to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists,
each year 2 million sick days are lost due to lower limb disorders. Many of
these sick days could be prevented by wearing the right shoe for the job and
following a daily foot care routine.
Whether you’re cooking on a
restaurant line, cutting hair in a salon, teaching in a classroom, or folding
T-shirts at a clothing store, making an extra effort to take good care of your
feet and legs can go a long way toward staying healthy and happy.
Wear the Right Shoe
Flat sole shoes may seem like the obvious choice if you work
on your feet, but these shoes aren’t recommended for
prolonged standing. According to the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers
Inc., your heel should be elevated by at least 1/4 inch.
Work shoes should also provide good arch support. This helps
reduce weakness and soreness in the legs and feet. You can purchase arch
support insoles from a drug store or an athletic store if your shoes don’t provide enough support.
Make Sure They Fit
Many people wear shoes that are too small. This cuts off
circulation to your feet, increases your chances of blisters, and makes walking
or standing uncomfortable, if not unbearable. Getting your feet properly sized
can help you make better decisions when it comes to purchasing shoes and reducing
Johanna Youner, D.P.M., a board-certified foot surgeon and
podiatrist in New York City, suggests being fitted for your shoes later in the
day. “Your feet are naturally larger at the
end of the day,” she says. “And for some, buying
shoes a half size larger to fit arch supports or custom orthotics will be
Stretch When You Can
Muscles can become stiff and painful as you stand or walk
all day. Stop every hour or so to stretch, relax, and lengthen tightened
- Calf raises. Stand on the
edge of a step or platform. Stand tall with your abdominal muscles pulled in. Secure
the balls of your feet firmly on the step with your heels hanging over the
edge. Raise your heels a few inches above the step as you stand on your
tiptoes, and hold for a second. Lower your heels back to even with the
platform. Repeat 10 times. This move helps pump blood out of the foot (where it
has pooled while you were standing) and back to the body.
- Runner’s stretch. Face a wall, and place
your hands against the wall. Extend one leg behind your body. Push your heel to
the floor as far as it will go. Hold for a moment to feel the stretch and then
switch sides. Repeat three times on each leg.
Take Care of Your Feet at Home
When you’re in the comfort of
home, you can help your feet recover from the day and prepare for tomorrow. Try
one of these treatments.
- Ice them
down. “As much as people don’t want to hear it, immersing the foot — as long as the person doesn’t have vascular
problems — in a bucket with water and ice for 20 minutes works to combat
the swelling and inflammation that prolonged standing creates in the foot,” says Lucille B. Andersen, M.D., a foot and ankle surgeon with
Webster Orthopedics in San Ramon, California. “Each step we take or
minute we stand, we are creating micro-damage that the body has to heal. Using
ice is an easy, effective way to help the body heal faster.”
- Massage your
feet. Roll your foot from heel to toe
over a tennis ball or baseball, Youner suggests. The gentle massage on your
feet and arches will stretch tight foot muscles and help your feet recover more
- Elevate. Propping your feet above the rest
of your body (against a wall or on a stack of pillows) will help decrease the
See Your Podiatrist If the Pain Persists
Make an appointment to see your doctor if the pain
continues, gets worse, or you begin to notice increasing symptoms like
numbness, stinging, or tingling in your feet and toes. “Pain
is a sign that something is wrong,” Youner says. “Do not walk through pain.”
You may have a condition like spurs or plantar fasciitis. Fallen arches can contribute to
your foot pain.