I have said before that the issue of nurse footwear is something I hold close to my heart.
I’ve suffered over the years with foot pain while working long shifts, and I have seen it all too often with my colleagues too.
Our feet take a lot of abuse, yet we have no choice but to battle on regardless, much less, complain.
Yet the problem is extremely common among healthcare professionals (and other vocations that involve standing for prolonged periods of time).
And although we would like to think it doesn’t affect our ability to do our jobs, I am afraid to report that it does.
A 2017 study found foot pain and the resulting discomfort that occurs does impact patient care as well as the overall wellbeing of the carer.
Needless to say, it is a problem that should not be ignored.
Thankfully, I have found ways that can reduce foot pain significantly.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some positive foot care tips, so that you no longer suffer after a long day at work.
1. Buy the right nurses’ shoe for you
Obviously, the first step you need to take (forgive the pun) is to buy the right shoes.
I have discussed this in detail elsewhere on NurseFocus. I have also created a list of what I believe are the best nurses’ shoes currently available.
The fact is, ill-fitting shoes are the biggest reason your feet are hurting at the end of the day.
However, aesthetics still play a large part in our choice of shoe, rather than the support they might provide.
Essentially, you should look for shoes with a non-skid sole and lots of cushioning. The insole should be strong and durable too.
Depending on your work environment, the shoe should also be resistant to sharp objects. This has made the nurses’ clogs so popular over recent years, as they tick all of these boxes.
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2. Wear Compression Socks
While the right shoes will definitely reduce the likelihood of sore feet, they will not eliminate the possibility altogether.
Physiology and gravity work together over a long day on your feet, pulling blood downwards so that more of it gathers in your legs and ankles. This causes throbbing sensations and discomfort.
They might not be flattering, yet neither are clogs especially. The point here is to be comfortable, no matter how grueling the shift.
A good pair of compression socks will help with your circulation and over the long haul, actually, help prevent more serious issues such as deep vein thrombosis and Edema.
I recommend them, wholeheartedly.
3. Stretch Your Feet throughout the day
You should aim to get into the habit of stretching your feet during your breaks.
Take your shoes off (hopefully those feet don’t pong), and slowly rotate your feet in varying directions.
This will improve circulation and relieve them of that cramped feeling of being inside the shoe all day.
You should also do the same when you get home. Stretch and rotate your feet and if you are lucky enough to have an obliging loved one, ask for a little foot massage before curling up for a bit of Netflix.
Morning foot exercises are a good idea too. Try grabbing a hand towel off the floor in the bathroom a few times. Just the very act of curling your toes up and moving the feet in ways you don’t throughout the day will help keep them healthy and pain-free.
- Related Content: Plantar Fasciitis: Tips & Exercises to Relieve the Pain
4. Insert Quality Insoles
Just because the show you have bought purports to have an ergonomically designed insole, doesn’t mean you should stop there.
A good, comfortable, contoured insole will do wonders for your feet.
Did you know that you can get custom-designed ones that are actually made to the shape of you? (These are especially relevant if you have a foot disorder like plantar fasciitis.)
Insoles reduce the amount of pressure and shock on your feet, offering extra support while countering any misalignment you may have.
If you struggle with foot pain, even with shoes that seem to suit you perfectly, a new insole is definitely worth trying.
5. Soak Your Feet
Along with the foot exercises, it is a good idea to soak your feet once you get home.
The benefits of hydrotherapy can simply be achieved by placing your feet alternately in hot and cold water.
The hot water helps to dilate your blood vessels, releasing toxins that have built up in your muscles while under strain.
The cold water shifts blood away from the surface of your feet, which in turn reduces inflammation.
That’s a win-win, and very easy to do.
Feel free to really pamper yourself with some Epsom salts or soothing essential oils. You certainly deserve it.
6. Keep Your Toenails Trimmed
Ingrown toenails are the worst. If you continue to ignore what’s going on down there, bad toenail care will lead to all sorts of problems while you’re on your feet all day.
Regularly trim your toenails and ensure that you do it straight across, instead of trimming along the sides.
You need your toenails to grow straight so that they do not infringe along the sides. Use nail clippers or manicure scissors and avoid doing so while they are wet.
If you have the time, a pedicure every once in a while is also a good idea too.
7. Moisturize Your Feet
Keeping your feet moisturized is another important self-care tip.
I am a little embarrassed to admit this, however, I suffer from very dry feet. If I don’t make efforts to moisturize, the soles end up looking like a cracked desert surface.
The embarrassing bit (and much to the disgust of my husband) is that I used to absentmindedly pick at the skin while sitting on the sofa. Gross, I know.
This would exacerbate sore feet and even, sometimes infection. I am much better now and moisturize my feet regularly.
I like to use creams that contain Karanja oils, however, petroleum jelly works well too.
Essentially, if you suffer from dry feet, moisturizing is a must.
- Related Content: Best Shoes for Nurses with Flat Feet
8. Don’t ignore the pain
My final tip is to not ignore the first signs of pain.
It is not a good idea and silently suffer with your sore feet in the belief it is all part of a long day at work.
By being provocative with your feet care and following the steps above, you will be able to reduce a lot of the pain going forward.
If, however, you suspect the issue is more serious (Plantar fasciitis for instance, or damaged tendons), you should book an appointment with your GP or look for a podiatrist.
You spend your whole day taking care of others, save a little time to take care of yourself too.
- Nurses’ Perceptions of Their Foot Health: Implications for Occupational Health Care; (First Published August 31, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1177/2165079917727011
- Does the Shoe Fit? Considerations for Proper Shoe Fitting; Orthopaedic Nursing: May/June 2018 – Volume 37 – Issue 3 – p 169-174 DOI: 10.1097/NOR.0000000000000447
- A Study of Hydrotherapy and Its Health Benefits; International Journal of Research (IJR) Vol-1, Issue-8, September 2014. ISSN 2348-6848