Nurses, teachers, retail workers and industrial workers, spend a considerable amount of their time standing or walking from one point to the other. However, spending a lengthy period on your feet not only increases tiredness and fatigue, but it can also accelerate the risk of various foot and leg problems since it puts a strain on the tendons, muscles, ligaments, joints, as well as bones. Apart from that, standing for long hours leads to lower blood supply to the lower parts of the body, thus promoting soreness. Also, prolonged standing may cause accumulation of blood around the ankles as well as in the foot. Bunions, plantar fasciitis, varicose veins, and edema are some of the problems associated with standing for long hours. The good news is that you don’t have to change your job. Numerous methods are available, which you can use to ensure you stand comfortably for long hours while alleviating the problems that come with prolonged standing.
Choose Proper Footwear
If you spend a long period on your feet, then you need the correct pair of shoes. Without the right shoes, combined with prolonged standing, you will end up with swelling and pain on your feet, as well as other forms of discomfort such as blisters and calluses. Apart from that, if you have plantar fasciitis, then you will end up with unbearable pain, especially if you are not wearing the right pair of shoes. So, how do you ensure the shoes you have chosen will keep you comfortable the entire day? First, ensure they fit your feet correctly. It’s always advisable to try out a new pair of shoes in the afternoon when your feet have expanded. Apart from that, you should leave a slight allowance for socks, if you intend to be wearing these shoes with socks.
Also, your pair of shoes should have the right amount of cushioning and arch support. If your pair of shoes doesn’t provide the right amount of comfort and support, then you can always customize them. You can add custom orthotics, which will provide the right amount of arch support. Most of the best shoes for standing all day come with removable insoles, which you can always replace when the need arises. Shoes for standing all day should also be specifically engineered to target various pressure points and alleviate stress. It’s also advisable to avoid shoes whose heels are too high if your work involves standing for long periods since they will place unnecessary tension on your ankles and back. Luckily, you have numerous options when it comes to comfortable shoes for standing all day. Therefore, you just need to choose a pair of comfortable work shoes for standing all day.
Maintain Good Posture
Poor posture can have a significant negative impact on your ligaments and muscles. It can contribute to injury and pain in your back, ankles, knees and heels. Also, it can lead to difficulty in breathing and digestion, among other issues. Unbalanced tension and strength in the muscles is usually the leading cause of bad posture. Leg muscles play a significant role in this. For instance, if you have a weak plantar fascia, combined with tight calf muscles, you will eventually end up with a poor posture. On the other hand, poor posture causes your body to lean further forward, thus leading to additional strain and stress on to your heels and feet while escalating plantar fasciitis. As you can see, it’s a vicious cycle.
So, how can you correct poor posture to ensure you stand comfortably while working? First, you should focus on ensuring your ears are aligned to your shoulders. On the other hand, your shoulders should be in a straight line with your hips. You should think of a little string traveling through your midline. Also, you should avoid slouching or putting all your weight on one leg when you are standing. Instead, you should always ensure that your weight is evenly distributed at all times. Apart from these posture adjustments, you should also purchase custom insoles for your shoes, since they can help to distribute the stress and pressure exerted on your whole foot while reducing ankle rotation. Custom orthotics can also provide additional support for your ankles, thus alleviating the pain that comes with poor posture.
As much as a good posture will help you to stand comfortably at work, you should also do some exercises before or after work, to provide your body with the rejuvenation it needs to keep going. Some of the exercises to consider include stretching, elevating the feet, body inversion, Epsom salt soaks, and a relaxing massage. If your workplace allows, you can bring a foam roll or a tennis ball with you or keep it in your living room. You just need to position the tennis ball under your feet and then roll forwards and backward. The back and forth movements will allow your muscles to lengthen and stretch – which is just what your body needs after standing all day at work. You can also use a foam roll to lengthen your muscles, thus helping to increase flexibility while minimizing fatigue.
As you work, you also need to stretch your body regularly. The good news is that you don’t require any specific equipment to stretch your body. You can do it anytime and anywhere. For instance, you can bend down, squat or stretch your back slightly. As you stretch, you will be re-aligning your bones and muscles, which helps to reduce fatigue and pain on your feet. And once you get home, you should lie on a comfortable couch and lift your feet up. Lifting your legs helps with blood circulation while relieving pressure and fatigue. Apart from that, inverting your body also works to relieve the strain and pressure exerted on the back when after prolonged standing.
Take Ample Breaks
If you spend most of your day standing in one position, then it’s advisable to take regular posture breaks for improved circulation. Changing your position as you work goes a long way in alleviating the stress on your feet. On the other hand, a circular sluggishness that comes with gravity can lead to headaches, feet fatigue, as well as back muscles. It can also affect your mood negatively. It’s also advisable to take seated breaks whenever it’s possible. As much as sitting may not be allowed at your workplace, you can always notify your supervisor concerning your intentions. For instance, you can sit while filling out paperwork or answering a phone call especially if you don’t have plenty of work to do.
Also, during your lunch break, always ensure you take your food when seated. A lunch break gives you an opportunity to allow your feet to rest. As much as you might be in a hurry, you should take the weight off your feet, ready for the next session or shift. If there are no chairs at your workplace, then you can come along with a folding chair, specifically for this purpose. And if that is not possible, then you can identify a different spot where you can eat while seated. Outdoor picnic tables, food courts or water fountains are some of the places where you can find sitting spots. Apart from that, make sure you sit down during your allotted break time. If it’s possible, lift your legs up slightly to promote better blood circulation. Removing your shoes when resting will also give your feet a chance to breathe, cool down and relax. During the break, you should also consider rolling your foot over a golf ball if you have one at your workplace. As you roll your feet over a golf ball, you will be relieving some pressure on the ball of the foot while preventing pain and inflammation.
Don’t forget that, at some point, you as well as your feet are going to require a whole lot more rest than just a 30 minute break. For this reason, it’s important that you also make sure to be standing comfortably and well supported outside of your work. If you like sitting around your house after work, then get a good pair of arch support slippers. Or if you like taking walks outside to relax from your work day, then make sure to wear sneakers with proper support. Like to go out for a fancy dinner on the weekend? Wear supportive dress shoes for the occasion. Your feet require constant support, always and everywhere. It’s not like gravity is ever going to give it a rest.
Change Your Standing Position
Some years back, wood was the most common flooring material in most workplaces. Although wood appears hard to walk on, it has a certain level of cushioning. However, most workplaces nowadays are composed of concrete floors, marble or tile. These materials don’t have any form of cushioning, insulation or shock absorption. Therefore, if your floor at your workplace is made of these materials, then you should shift standing positions to an area with a springy material. If it’s not possible to change your standing position, then you should consider flexing your legs to promote blood circulation. Ceramic tile and concrete floors will transfer cold to your feet – thus affecting blood circulation. You should remember that you cannot do anything much about the flooring material at your workplace. However, you can purchase some enhancements for additional comfort while standing.
If you work outdoors, find a place with some grass to stand on for around 15 minutes or so to relieve pressure and tension on your feet. If changing your standing position is not possible, then you should consider bringing an anti-fatigue mat to work. Anti-fatigue mats are normally designed to reduce the stress load on your feet. They come with a cushioned surface, which you can stand on for prolonged periods without experiencing fatigue on your feet. If you are an industrial worker and your work involves standing at the same spot for long hours, then you should consider purchasing an anti-fatigue mat and placing it under your feet as you stand. Most anti-fatigue mats are made of vinyl, leather, rubber or foam. You can also consider stand-on carpeting if you can find one at your workplace. If the flooring at work doesn’t have a carpet, then you can ask your supervisor whether you can bring one from home.
Consider Feet Therapy
Apart from changing your posture and wearing the right type of shoes, you should also consider taking care of your feet once you get home from work. Soaking your feet in Epsom salt can significantly minimize swelling and pain since Epsom salt is an organic anti-inflammatory substance. Apart from anti-inflammation properties, the magnesium present in this salt can help your muscles to relax. If you end up with swollen and inflamed feet at the end of your workday, then you should soak your feet in ice-cold water immediately after the salt bath. You can even soak your feet in the water as you watch the TV, which means it will not waste your time. You can then add a few drops of essential oils and then enjoy the soak for as long as you want. Apart from a foot bath, you should also consider getting a foot massage.
Massaging your feet helps to reduce muscle tension while promoting better blood circulation. You can either go to a professional masseuse or massage yourself. If you will be massaging yourself, then it’s advisable to start rubbing the feet from the toes going upwards. You can also place a wooden roller under your feet, which will produce the same relaxing effect with minimal energy. As you massage your feet, it’s advisable to add a few drops of peppermint lotion to the feet, as it will invigorate them, thus promoting blood flow.
Also, if you are overweight, then you should explore ways of shedding some weight. Overweight people are vulnerable to various foot conditions and problems, due to the added pressure on their feet. Apart from that, severe pronation, fallen arches, and flat feet are also common among people who are overweight. Therefore, if you stand for long hours, and you are obese, then you should consider some cardiovascular exercises such as jogging or walking after work. Also, reducing your caloric consumption will also go a long way in weight loss.
Visit a Specialist Regularly
It’s also advisable to see a foot health specialist, also called a podiatrist, for regular check-ups every year. Ensure you first make a list of anything that is bothering your feet before visiting the podiatrist. Aching ankles, serious joint pain or any other symptoms should be addressed during these appointments. You should never postpone an appointment for any reason, since the problem you are suffering from might escalate, leading even to bigger problems. If you take care of your body when you are not working, then it will definitely take care of you at work, while helping you to be more productive and efficient. As you can see, it’s a win-win situation.