Where would we be without our healthcare workers? During these days especially, we depend on them.
But the question is, what do our healthcare workers depend on? The answer is their expertise, their resilience, and most of all, their good hearts. But what about their feet?
If you are a healthcare worker, you know your feet take a lot of abuse throughout a shift. And over time, if you don’t take care of them, you can pay a hefty price.
In fact, a 2017 study found that foot pain and discomfort can even have an adverse effect on patient care. Not to mention the toll it takes on your own personal life if you come home with pain day after day.
The good news is there are some proactive things you can do right now to minimize the problems that arise when you have sore or tired feet. Keep reading if you want to learn more!
1. Wear the Right Shoes
This may seem obvious, but shoes that fit poorly can plunge you into a world of hurt. Do your shoes fit properly?
A good way to tell is by only shoe shopping late in the day. Our feet tend to be larger at the end of the day due to routine stresses. So trying on shoes later will give you a better overall fit for shoes that can last all day long.
Unfortunately, you also may have to sacrifice those cute, attractive shoes for the ones that offer the most support and comfort.
Look for shoes with a non-skid sole, plenty of cushioning, and a strong, durable insole. You will also want shoes that are resistant to sharp objects if you should accidentally step on needles or glass. Running shoes and professional clogs are great choices.
The professional clogs by Dansko are a reliable option for nurses and healthcare workers.
2. Use High-Quality Insoles
Insoles are your best friend when you have to be on your feet all day. They can help absorb the pressure from putting your whole weight on your feet all day long. Over time, all that pressure can lead to foot disorders: definitely not a good situation for the work you have to do.
If you already have a foot disorder (like plantar fasciitis, for example) then you know what we’re talking about. Good insoles will reduce the amount of pressure and shock that your feet have to absorb on a normal day.
The best insoles combine soft and hard materials so you get maximum support in addition to that luxurious, comfortable feeling you crave. Contrary to popular belief, softer isn’t always better. Good insoles will put pressure on the right parts of your feet to prevent misalignment.
3. Wear Compression Socks
Your greatest enemy when you’re on your feet all day? It’s actually gravity, pulling blood downwards so that it forms pools in your legs and ankles. The best way to combat these effects is wearing those old-fashioned compression socks.
Yes, we know, you think they’re just for your grandmother. But once you start wearing them, you’ll see that they make a huge difference.
A good pair of compression socks will fit snugly (though not too tight!). They help with your circulation and prevent a plethora of problems like deep vein thrombosis and Edema.
Not only that, but you’ll just feel better. A good pair of compression socks makes your legs feel less tired and heavy.
These compression socks look and feel great for nurses and healthcare workers.
4. Stretch Your Feet
Stretching your feet as often as you can during a shift can improve your circulation, heading off all kinds of problems. Whenever you have a break, try slowly rotating your foot clockwise a few times, and then counter-clockwise.
Once you’re off work, take some time to stretch each foot about 10 times before going to bed. And start the day by curling your toes and stretching your calves a few times. Exercise your toes by using them to grab a towel several times. Another exercise: try standing straight and tall, and then prance your feet several times, with toes bent, switching back and forth between them.
Exercises like these help keep your legs and feet loose, minimizing the effects of stress and pressure. If you do these exercises every day, it will go a long way towards keeping your feet healthy and pain-free.
5. Keep Toenails Trimmed
A lot of foot agony has been caused by ingrown toenails. This is a condition in which your toenails begin growing into your skin, causing pain and often infection.
Fortunately, this is an easy problem to prevent.
Always trim your toenails straight across, instead of trimming along the sides. This keeps them growing straight, so they’re less likely to grow into your skin along the side. Don’t overdo it, though; clipping them too short is just as likely to cause infection. Avoid trimming nails when they’re wet, too.
Use a proper set of nail clippers or manicure scissors which are designed for trimming nails. Avoid using a knife or a pair of regular scissors.
And don’t be afraid to splurge on a nice pedicure every once in a while.
6. Soak Your Feet
Soak your feet alternately in hot and cold water to reap the full benefits of hydrotherapy, a health treatment which has been around since ancient Roman times.
By starting with hot water, you dilate your blood vessels, releasing toxins from tired muscles. Then follow it up with cold water, which moves blood away from your feet and reduces inflammation. Hydrotherapy like this helps your blood circulate and eases pain and swelling.
Another way to treat your feet: add some Epsom salts to warm saltwater and soak your feet for about ten minutes to help circulation and relieve swelling. You can make it feel even more luxurious by adding a soothing essential oil like menthol or peppermint. Your feet deserve it.
7. Moisturize Your Feet
Every day after washing and drying your feet, slather on moisturizer to keep the skin healthy. This is especially important during the winter months when dry air can make your skin brittle and sensitive.
This is important because cracks in your skin due to excessive dryness and stress can make an opening for painful infections.
So go ahead and slather on your favorite thick creamy moisturizer. For best results, try a moisturizer that contains neem or karanja oils. But even just plain old petroleum jelly works well, too.
Just avoid putting any moisturizer between your toes because this can lead to the growth of unhealthy bacteria.
8. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Any excess weight means more pounds for your feet to carry around all day long. Over time, that extra work can make them even more tired and achy.
Your feet will thank you if you make time for exercise several times a week to help get the extra weight off and keep it off.
Cutting back on sugars and carbs is a good way to jump-start a weight loss plan. Make sure you are getting enough healthy proteins and fat by eating things like lean meat, fish, and leafy green vegetables. Don’t starve yourself, because if you get too hungry, your diet plan may backfire.
Eating healthy food whenever you are hungry is a good way to sustain a healthy diet and ease up on the weight your feet have to carry.
9. Don’t Wear Worn-Out Shoes
It’s a good idea to replace your shoes every six months. Yeah, that seems extreme, but when you’re on your feet all day long, shoes wear out quickly. The reality is that after six months, your shoes might still look good, but they’re not giving you the support you need.
There are some signs to look for if you think it might be time to ditch your current pair of shoes.
Does the cushioning bounce back when you press it, or does it remain compressed? Is any part of the sole worn down? Do the shoes sit evenly when placed on a flat surface, or do they tip or rock?
All of these are signs that your old shoes are no longer giving you the support you need.
10. Don’t Ignore the Pain
No matter how many hours each day you’re on your feet, they should not hurt. Foot pain is a sign of a problem that needs to be addressed. Even something that seems like a minor annoyance can quickly lead to bigger problems. That bothersome twinge you’re feeling could be an early sign of:
- Plantar fasciitis, in which the tendons connecting your heel to the rest of the foot become inflamed
- Tendonitis, or inflammation of the Achilles tendon
- A stress fracture, which causes the top or the sides of foot to hurt
- Arthritis, in which the joints and tissues in your feet start to break down
In most cases, a podiatrist can work with you by prescribing orthotics or just some small life changes to help. Sometimes all you need is to find a pair of shoes that fits you better. On rare occasions, surgery may be needed to correct the problem.
So there you have. Hopefully, the tips in this article can help you mitigate and alleviate those sore feet once and for all.
There are few things more essential than a healthcare worker’s feet during long, 12-hour shifts. This is why it’s important to take good care of them so that they can help you continue to take good care of everyone else. Thanks for reading and as always, breathe easy my friend.
- “10 Points of Proper Shoe Fit | FootCareMD.” 10 POINTS OF PROPER SHOE FIT, 2018, www.footcaremd.org/resources/how-to-help/10-points-of-proper-shoe-fit.
- “Insole Guide | TheInsoleStore.Com.” The Insole Store, www.theinsolestore.com/insole-guide. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.
- “WHY NURSES SHOULD WEAR COMPRESSION SOCKS.” ENurse, www.enurse.com.au/blog/why-nurses-should-wear-compression-socks.
- Marcin, Ashley. “Stretches and Treatment for Tight Calves.” Healthline, 8 Mar. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/tight-calves.
- Frothingham, Scott. “How to Cut Toenails.” Healthline, 31 May 2018, www.healthline.com/health/how-to-cut-toenails.
- “Types and Benefits of Hydrotherapy.” Verywell Health, 24 Sept. 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/different-types-of-hydrotherapy-89993.
- Asp, Karen. “Tips for Healthy Feet.” WebMD, 11 June 2015, www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/healthy-feet-tips#1.
- Gunnars, Kris BSc. “How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science.” Healthline, 29 Oct. 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lose-weight-as-fast-as-possible#2.-Eat-protein,-fat,-and-vegetables.
- Dombroski, Colin. “When To Replace Worn Out Footwear | SoleScience Custom Orthotics.” SoleScience – Orthotics, Gait Analysis & Individualized Pedorthic Care, 21 May 2020, www.solescience.ca/how-worn-is-worn-out.
- WomenWorking. “7 Types of Foot Pain That Should Never Be Ignored.” WomenWorking, 21 Sept. 2018, www.womenworking.com/7-types-of-foot-pain-that-should-never-be-ignored.
- “SAGE Journals: Your Gateway to World-Class Research Journals.” SAGE Journals, 31 Aug. 2017, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2165079917727011.