Not everyone has the luxury of sitting all day long. If you work in a job that requires you to stand for most of the day, you probably understand the aches and pains associated with being on your feet for 8 to 10 hours or more. At the end of the day, you feel like your feet are going to fall off. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with the pain. Here are a few strategies for dealing with sore feet.
Sit Down On Your Breaks
The first obvious step is to sit down when you can. If you’re on your feet for an entire shift, and your feel always hurt, you need to sit down on your breaks. Your employer cannot force you to be up on your feet during this time. If you have to, sit down on the floor.
Get Better Shoes
Sometimes, the problem is your shoes. You may not be able to go barefoot at work, but there’s almost always a better shoe option. Ideally, we would all spend some time barefoot – maybe at home or on the weekends. Why? It’s good for your feet. Barefoot walking gives you better balance, a better feeling of being grounded, and improves your arch strength (as long as you properly condition your feet slowly over time). That’s not hyperbole. There’s some interesting research into this idea and most of it points to the idea that everyone could probably benefit from at least a little time sans shoes.
Fix Your Posture
In all likelihood, you bend your knees when you stand. You probably do this unconsciously, because we’ve all been told not to lock our knees. In some ways, this makes a lot of sense. In other ways, it’s a terrible idea that was translated poorly from the military.
The idea of not locking your knees comes from the military – solders had to stand many hours in one position. But, what happened was that many of these people were tightening their quads and pulling their kneecaps back into their knees. This cuts off circulation and will eventually harm your delicate joint.
But, keeping your knees “soft” while have your legs straight is perfectly fine. In fact, it’s going to help you relieve a lot of stress on your knees and your feet. How? By keeping your legs straight, and relaxing your knees, you take sheer force off the knee. You also change the loading of your feet in such a way so as to spread out your weight more evenly across your entire foot.
Biomechanist Katy Bowman explains how to fix your knees in about 1 minute. Her “Aligned and Well” videos dig deeper into the problem. You should also try stretching your calves with a basic calf stretch every night until you feel the pain in your feet subside.
Ice Your Feet
Sometimes, the problem is swelling. If you’re on your feet all day, there may be a lot of inflammation, which will cause swelling in your feet. This turns into a vicious cycle that never ends because you can’t recover fast enough overnight. This is where ice might help you.
Put your feet in an ice bath when you get home for about 20 minutes – no longer. You can go 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, but more than 20 minutes at a time may cause more harm than good. This will knock down a lot of superficial inflammation in your feet. When you sleep, try to keep your feet elevated. This will help improve circulation. When you get up in the morning, you should feel a lot better.
Insoles, like those sold through http://www.engelbert-strauss.co.uk, may help you during the day while you’re working on your posture and recovering. Insoles are a rather inexpensive stop-gap measure until you can find a permanent fix for your problem.
Standing still is probably another part of your problem. Human beings were meant to move. If you’re standing in one spot all day, you’re loading your feet in a particular way for hours on end – your body isn’t designed for that. Moving around constantly shifts the stress on your entire musculoskeletal system, so your body doesn’t become overly stressed in one area.
As a last resort, you can always take NSAIDs. This is, unfortunately, the first place most people turn to. But, NSAIDs (all of them) will eventually cause stomach bleeding, liver damage, and gastrointestinal disturbances over time with regular use. That’s because NSAIDs rely on salicylates for their pain-relieving function. It’s not as much a pain reliever as it is an anti-inflammatory.
Instead of taking oral NSAIDs, consider topical versions. They won’t put the stress on your gut and liver, and you may get the same or similar results as oral NSAIDs.
Evie Field used to stand at her job all day and her feet suffered for it. After looking for ways to find relief, she decided to pass them on to other workers that share her story.