In the healthcare profession, working on your feet all day long can be tiring!
Do your feet and legs hurt from standing all day? Many people who work in the healthcare industry are on their feet all day long, and often times shifts can last over 12 hours. Whatever your job—from medical assistant, pharmacy technician, or nurse’s assistant to head nurse, attending, or top surgeon—we all know that aching feet can make your job a lot harder. Below are some tips to help take care of your feet, which can improve your comfort, and ultimately make it easier to take care of your patients.
1. Get the right footwear
To get started on treating your feet better, take a look at your shoes. Are they supportive? Are they in good condition? How often do you replace them? Here are some tips on finding the right shoes.
- Do your research on brands. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has created a searchable listing of shoes that have been awarded the APMA Seal of Acceptance/Approval as shoes that promote good foot health. Try to find stores that carry these brands before you start shopping.
- Measure both feet at the end of a day of standing. This will help make sure you are buying shoes that will still fit your feet, even if you experience swelling at the end of the day.
- Try shopping at a store that specializes in running shoes or nursing shoes. The sales associates may be able to evaluate your feet, your arches, and your walking gait to determine whether you over-pronate (which is when your feet roll in too far when walking). They may be able to help you find shoes that offer more stability and support. Also ask the sales associates about insoles or orthotics that could provide additional support for your feet.
- If you still cannot seem to get the right shoe, consider seeing a podiatrist about your feet problems. Podiatrists can help with custom-made orthotics and other ways to make sure your shoes are right for your feet.
2. Rotate and replace your footwear
- Keep at least two pairs of shoes in rotation, switching them every few days to give your feet a change. Different shoes will have different pressure points on your feet, so switching them helps to vary the pressure points.
- Replace your shoes roughly every six months.
3. Try new socks
Believe it or not, your socks can make a difference. Some people find that compression socks help them in jobs where they stand all day. Compression socks are designed to apply pressure to your legs to stimulate the upward blood flow and relieve fatigue. Not all compression socks are created the same; some are tighter than others, so you may have to experiment until you find the best fit. Other people prefer different types of supportive socks that provide extra cushioning and support.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight can add extra pressure to your feet and legs. Maintaining a healthy weight can help relieve the stress that is put on your feet. If you need help in losing weight, ask your doctor about the safest plan for you. In addition, the American Heart Association has a useful website on weight management called Master the Scale.
5. Do stretches at home and at work
Before and after work, try to take the time to do some stretches. The Mayo Clinic provides a guide to safe stretching that can help you develop a stretching routine that works for you. You may even be able to work a little stretching into your shift. NurseTogether offers specific leg exercises for nurses that can be done during your breaks.
If you have a job that requires you to stand in one place all day, make sure to use your breaks to take walks. And try to incorporate movement into your standing, for instance by rocking back on your heels and then up to your toes. Any movement helps keep your circulation going.
6. Soak, massage, and elevate your feet
Many people find that soaking their feet in an ice water bath or a warm bath with Epsom salts is helpful to minimize swelling. Getting a professional foot massage, and learning techniques to massage your own feet can also help. And when you finally do have a chance to sit down and relax, make sure you prop up your feet. They deserve to be pampered!
Being in a helping profession takes a special kind of person who wants to reach out and improve the lives of others. It’s just that kind of person who can forget to take care of themselves! But remember, your feet are a precious asset in the field of healthcare. You owe it to yourself and your patients to take care of your feet so they can carry you where you need to go.
This article was provided by the Harris School of Business, specializing in career training in the fields of allied health, healthcare, and business management. For information on our healthcare training programs—such as medical assistant, dental assistant, surgical technician, and more—visit our programs page, or fill out our online form and a representative will contact you.