In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that most civilian jobs required workers to spend about 59.4% of the workday standing and the rest 40.6% sitting. However, these values do vary according to the profession. For example, food servers and cooks spend much more time standing on the job compared to accountants or bankers.
If your line of work requires you to stand for long hours, and it’s causing you flare-ups of foot pain, you have come to the right place. By tweaking everyday habits and incorporating new ones into your routine, you can get rid of pain and increase your efficiency. Read on to find out how.
The Painful Consequences of Standing for too Long
Electricians, machine workers, and food servers who work in a standing position all day often complain about muscular fatigue, stiff neck and shoulders, lower back pain, swollen legs, and sore feet.
This is because most of these professions require working in cramped work areas where there isn’t much room for assuming different positions. As a result, these workers take on a single rigid posture, which doesn’t work all the muscles in the body, and the muscles being used become over- exercised.
To maintain such positions, joints become overly rigid, eventually leading to osteoarthritis. Standing effectively reduces the blood that goes to these muscles, which further speeds up the process of developing the above symptoms.
Furthermore, prolonged standing causes blood to accumulate in the legs and feet. Over time, veins become inflamed, and it may result in the worker developing painful varicose veins.
Ways to Combat the Pain and Stay on Top of Your Work Game
Now that you know the reason behind your work pain troubles let’s look at ways you can tackle them. Here are some changes you can make to your lifestyle, so you can banish the pain and keep your body in top shape.
1. Wear the Right Kind of Shoes
Too many people are only concerned about the aesthetic quality of their shoes to the point that it might be compromising their health. If you had to trade between form and function, choose the latter. While in no way do we discourage your fashion sense, the fact still stands that work shoes see a lot of wear very fast, and if you are going to be working your foot quite a lot, go with the most comfortable option.
Therefore, when it comes to shoe material, always choose leather. With time, it will change form to fit the shape of your foot more closely. Don’t forget to ensure your toe has enough room unless you want painfully ingrown nails and foot fungus. Heels should also be between ¼ inches and 2 inches long. Finally, good shoes must have good arch support. Buy insoles for neuropathy if your shoe lacks proper support.
If you want to get the full specification for the perfectly comfortable shoe, you can learn more through detailed guides and reviews on different shoes at Runners’ Choice.
2. Maintain Proper Posture
There is a common affliction that haunts today’s culture. Look around you at the average person, and we bet that you will find at least 2 or more people walking around with their heads jutted out slightly. This is called a text/reading/scholar neck.
Hours of time spent on computers, mobile phones, and textbooks have caused an imbalance in the natural position of the human body. This causes the body’s center of mass to shift, putting pressure on the arch of your feet, causing it to strain. The correct posture is to stand tall with your head above your shoulder and in line with your hips. You can also try exercising your shin muscles to help support your arch.
3. Rotate Tasks and Take Frequent Breaks
Working for hours on end in the same position and no breaks is a recipe for swollen legs and painful foot cramps. This is why, begin your day like you would an exercise routine, with plenty of stretching. You can do calf raises, runner’s stretch, or walk to work every day for 20-30 minutes.
In the middle of your shift, after every half an hour, stop what you are doing and get moving especially if you feel the pain creeping up on you. Don’t forget to sit down once in a while when you really need it.
If you suffer from chronic foot pain, it may be a good idea to take up yoga now. All that stretching will whip you into shape for effectively tackling your workload.
Stretching frequently will balance the blood circulation in your body. Don’t forget to drink a lot of water and taking care of your muscle with a deep tissue massage. Using a portable deep tissue massager, like the Exogun, boost your muscle function and recovery, and is part of most athletes’ routine.
4. Care for Your Feet
Our feet have taken us to many different places and propelled us toward many memorable experiences. Thus, despite being such an important part of our body, they are perhaps the most neglected.
Therefore, those already struggling with foot pain should integrate five major foot care habits into their daily routine:
- Avoid ingrown nails by trimming toenails straight across. Do not cut them rounded near the edges to fit the shape of your foot.
- Unless you suffer from vascular problems, you should immerse your foot in ice water for 20 minutes to heal inflammation and swelling.
- Help foot muscles relax and increase circulation by rolling your feet over a tennis or baseball. You can even get foot rollers specially designed to combat foot pain.
- Prop your feet up using a stack of pillows to encourage pooled blood in your feet to return to its normal position.
- Take a warm shower at the end of the day before going to bed to help your muscles fully relax. This also helps improve sleep quality.
5. Incorporate Exercise to Strengthen Leg and Foot Muscles
As mentioned before, a forward-leaning posture requires much more strength to hold upright by the body. Thus, the body needs to develop muscle to support such a frame. The primary areas where you need strength are the abdominals, glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
The following exercises, when done for 15 minutes twice every week, can help you build up your muscles and increase your work capacity and efficiency:
- Side-lying hip abductions
- Weight lifting
6. Visit Your Podiatrist
If your foot pain persists despite your efforts, and the pain only seems to be worsening, perhaps it is time to go see a podiatrist. Podiatrists specialize in ailments of the foot and can help you pinpoint the cause and cure to your foot pain troubles.
If your line of work has you and your coworkers complaining about aches and pains, you should regularly visit a podiatrist for check-ups. It may help you detect issues earlier on and prevent permanent degeneration to your foot muscles from wear and tear.
It is natural that strain and movement cause damage to the muscles. Although, given enough time, muscles eventually heal as well. However, prolonged standing without much movement or breaks may lead to permanent muscle and joint damage over time. This is why practicing proper foot care habits is important, so your work performance stays high while your feet remain healthy.