work on feetOur bodies are meant to be in motion, not sitting at a desk all day. However, if you spend the majority of your workday on your feet, you are going to have to take steps to ensure you take care of those tender tootsies. Whether you spend your days cutting hair at a salon, pacing the floor at the front of a classroom or serving customers as a cashier, here are some ways to reduce the stress on your feet and legs.

Find the right shoes

It might seem obvious that you are going to need a special pair of comfortable shoes for your job if it involves long hours standing or walking. But more than comfort, you need to consider support. You can’t just pull on a favorite pair of sneakers and expect them to do the job. You need support for your arches and ankles, in a well-shaped shoe that provides plenty of wiggle room for your toes. The heel should be higher than a ¼ inch but less than 2 inches. You don’t have to be working in the medical field to appreciate nursing shoes. Today’s nursing shoes come in a wide variety of styles and colors and are ideal for any role that keeps you on your feet for the majority of your shift. Make sure the shoe fits you properly. You can’t afford any toe pinching or slipping and sliding of the foot within the shoe: that might lead to injury.

Take advantage of break time

After a certain number of hours on the job, you will likely be scheduled for a break. Take advantage of this time to eat a healthy snack and rest your eyes and feet. Sit down and find another chair or box to elevate your feet above your chair level. This will help to relieve some of the pressure that leads to swelling at the end of the day. You can also take a moment during your standing shift to stretch your calf muscles and strengthen your ankles. Holding onto something for balance, slowly raise up on your toes and down again. If you have a step or ledge you can also try dropping your heels down below the step to stretch the calf. Take a moment to walk around if you are usually in a stationary position for most of the day. A few simple exercises will get the blood flowing, bringing energy back to your feet and legs for the next part of your shift.

Nip any problems in the bud

Pay attention to what your feet are telling you. If you want to scream “ow, my dogs are barking!” at the end of the day, it’s likely your feet are swollen at the very least, and you might be heading towards more serious foot care issues. If you have any pain in your foot, whether it is the arch, ball or ankle, you should see a podiatrist or foot care specialist. Your problem might be solved with something as simple as orthopedic footwear.

Give your feet a trip to the spa

Many people who work on their feet all day make a habit of soaking their feet after their shift. This reduces swelling and muscle fatigue. You can use a simple bath of Epsom salts in a plastic dish tub of warm water, and soak your feet while you are watching TV. Some foot baths come with a massage mechanism built in – like a mini Jacuzzi for your feet. You can also find foot massagers that don’t need water. Just put your feet on the massager, plug it in, sit back and relax. You can give your own feet a gentle kneading massage, or request a massage from a partner.

Doctors recommend you also manage your weight and try to get a good night’s sleep if you plan to be on your feet all day. Use good posture so that your weight is evenly distributed over your whole foot. Leaning or slouching can cause an imbalance that puts strain on specific parts of your feet, leading to injury.

Long periods of standing or walking can wreak havoc on your feet. Take good care of them and you will find yourself energized and looking forward to going to work each day.

Gabriel Hartley works in a hospital and knows himself, and from his team members, how the work can lead to their own health problems. He writes about looking after yourself whilst at work.

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