Dr. Suzanne Levine
No matter what your day job, your feet may be hurting by the end of the day, but some occupations put more stress on the soles than others, increasing your risk for aches, pains, and foot conditions that, if not treated early, can affect your work and your life.
This typically happens with jobs that require you to stand all day, as in the case of salespeople, hairstylists, waiters/ waitresses, police officers, teachers, flight attendants, doormen, and dancers, to name just a few.
If you have a job that requires you to stand for long periods of time this can contribute to many different types of foot problems.
Standing all day can lead to problems such as hip, knee, back, and foot pain. We’ll focus on the latter. High heels put extra weight on the ball of the foot, which can cause a condition called metatarsalgia and increases your chances of nerve injuries and hammertoes. Bunions, sprains, and stress fractures are also problems. Swelling is another problem because gravity causes fluid to accumulate in the lower legs and feet. Fatigue also places you more at risk of muscle and joint injuries.
If getting older didn’t pose enough problems in our daily lives. Many people don’t realize that as we age our feet suffer right along with the rest of our body.
Sadly, age plays a major role, too changes increases after the age of 40 because you’re losing more cushioning in the ball of the foot, muscle mass diminishes, fat increases, your venous system becomes more compromised so blood doesn’t go back to the heart as readily as it used to, and your tendons and ligaments are less agile and therefore more prone to injury.
Try the following to help reduce foot aches, pains, discomfort, and potential for injuries:
- Place your feet on a pedestal or on top of a table during work breaks or lunch. Elevating them several times a
day, even for a minute or two, will stimulate circulation. You can feel the blood rush from your feet, and for me, it brings instant relief.
- Change the position in which you stand throughout the day and try to walk around rather than stay in one spot. Don’t stand on one foot; support your weight on both feet. • Stand up straight. Maintaining good posture can help your feet, hips and back.
- Have two pairs of shoes on hand. Women suffer four times more foot problems than men because they wear shoes with pointy toes and/ or high heels more often. Simply by varying the styles during the course of a single day, you offer your imprisoned feet some breathing room.
- Don’t wear the same shoes several days in a row.
Exercises for your Feet
Exercise is essential for strengthening and stretching the muscles in your feet and ankles as well as your arches. Here are a few simple ones that you can do when you have a moment – either during the day at work or at home while watching TV or sitting at your computer.
- These are isotonic exercises. Keep the movements slow to sustain control. Repetition is important: do ten repetitions for each foot.
- Writing the Alphabet. Take off your shoes and use your toes to make the motion of writing the letters of the alphabet on the ground. Do A to Z with one foot and then start with the other. If your legs ache or you have varicose veins, doing this throughout the day can help pump fluid out of the legs.
- Pump the Gas pedal. Sitting down, simply pretend that you are pumping the gas pedal withyour right foot and then the left. This will exercise your ankles as well as the muscles in your feet.
- The Foot Press. With your shoes and socks off, cross your legs at the ankles and keep the top of one foot against the back of the other. Try pulling them away from each other and really putting the pressure on.
- The Butterfly. Sit on the floor and bend your legs at the knees, putting the soles of your feet together. Press your feet against one another and hold the pose for at least a minute working up to two minutes after a few sessions.
- The Towel Curl. Place a folded towel on the floor, slip off your shoes, and curl your toes over the towel, gently gripping it. This is a great exercise for fighting foot fatigue. It also helps shape the arch.
There are many different exercises you can do these are but a few. As a society we take many things for granted and the “feet” fall into that category. It’s not until something starts to hurt, do we pay attention. Feet are no exception.
So if you have a lifestyle that requires to be on your feet a lot, take good care of them, exercise them, be kind to them and they will take care of you.