Many people in healthcare careers have jobs where they are on their feet for most of their working hours. In hospitals, shifts can last as long as 12 hours, which means a lot of consecutive hours where you can’t sit down.
Whatever your nursing job—whether you are a nursing assistant, practical nurse, patient care technician, registered nurse, or a BSN—you need to take care of your feet. If your feet are hurting, you will feel miserable, and on top of that, you will not be able to care for your patients as well. Try these tips to give those dogs a break!
1. Be picky about your shoes
Cheap shoes may be easy on the wallet, but they are usually not easy on your feet or back. It is worth it to make an investment in a shoe that works for you. Try these suggestions:
- Look at the American Podiatric Medical Association’s list of shoes that have received the association’s Seal of Acceptance/Approval. Look under “Footwear/Occupational” for suggestions of these approved shoes. Look for stores that carry these brands so you can try them on before buying them.
- Before buying shoes, measure both your feet at the end of your work day. After standing all day on the job, your feet might swell, and you want to buy shoes that will fit even when your feet are swollen.
- When you go shopping, find a store that specializes in nursing shoes. Ask the store representative to help you find the right shoe. The person should measure your feet and examine your arches. You might also ask the associate to watch you walk, in order to determine whether you under-pronate or over-pronate. Certain shoes may be better for the shape of your foot and the way you walk.
- Look into orthotics or insoles that may provide added support.
- If your problems are not improving, it may be time to see a doctor. Podiatrists specialize in foot problems, and may be able to provide customized orthotics or other suggestions to make you more comfortable.
2. Replace and rotate your footwear often!
- Wearing the same shoes every day can cause irritations or discomfort, because the same pressure points are being stressed every day. By switching shoes every few days, you will give your feet different pressure points, and avoid stressing the same spots over and over again.
- Retire your work shoes after six months. Six months may not sound like much, but if you consider how much wear and tear your shoes get from working long hours on your feet, you will agree that it’s worth the investment.
3. Don’t forget about your socks
Did you know that certain socks can be more supportive than others? Some people who stand all day long find that compression socks help to relieve the tiredness in their feet and legs. The socks are meant to stimulate the upward flow of blood in your calves. If you want to try compression socks, be ready to try a few different brands before you find the right one. Some are tighter than others, and you want to find the best fit for you. The American Podiatric Medical Association provides a list of socks with their seal of approval.
4. Stay at a healthy weight
You may not think about weight being related to foot pain, but if you are carrying around extra pounds every day, it can put additional pressure on your feet and legs. Try to maintain a healthy weight. If you need help with weight management, try the American Heart Association’s Master the Scale weight management program.
5. Take time to stretch your muscles
Stretching can help limber up your muscles and give you more flexibility. Make time before and after work—and even during your breaks—to do some stretching. Try the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Basic Stretches for some simple stretches to help your legs. The website NurseTogether also suggests leg exercises that are specifically for nurses. You can even do some of these during your breaks.
If you have a job where you stand in one place all day (as opposed to walking), you may have trouble with blood circulation in your legs. Compression socks may help with this, and you may also find some relief by walking during your breaks. You can even incorporate extra movement while you are standing, such as rocking back on your heels, and then standing on your toes. Moving like this can help keep your circulation moving.
6. Pamper your feet!
After work, you may finally have the chance to sit down and relax. To give your feet some extra pampering, try this advice:
- If you have swollen feet, try an ice water bath or a warm foot bath with Espom salts.
- Get a professional foot massage
- Learn how to self-massage your feet
- Prop up your feet
There’s no doubt about it, working on your feet all day can be tiring. Remember that your feet are a very important asset. You need to feel comfortable in order to serve your patients well. It’s worth it to invest a little extra time and money into pampering your feet. You will be glad you did!
The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health in Manchester, New Hampshire, offers three programs in the field of nursing: Licensed Nursing Assistant, Practical Nursing, and Patient Care Technician. Contact us for more information about starting your new career at the Salter School of Nursing.