How to manage foot pain from standing

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Standing for eight hours a day can do a real number on your legs, feet and ankles. Here’s how to manage foot pain from standing on your feet all day…

Pharmacy assistants, nurses, flight attendants, sales people, restaurant workers, hotel workers, teachers… they all have one thing in common. People in these occupations and more are all on their feet all day, for hours on end, day in and day out. And for many, it feels like when your feet and legs hurt everything else hurts.

The main culprits are hard floor surfaces and the wrong type of shoes worn. Standing on concrete, marble or tile floors is the worst thing for your legs and feet as hard and inflexible floors cause body fatigue.

When you stand for long periods of time, your arches collapse and hard floors give no relief. By the end of day your feet are likely to be crying out – and you can’t wait to take your shoes off and put your feet up!

  • Icing your feet for 20 minutes as soon as you can will reduce pain and help increase blood flow to the muscles.
  • A quick massage of your feet with your hands will help ease the strain they have been under all day.
  • Buy an anti-fatigue mat if you are standing behind a cash register for several hours, as they provide more cushioning for your feet; otherwise a foam mat or a carpet piece will do.
  • Look at the shoes you are wearing to work. Many shoes do not provide the cushioned support needed for your hardworking feet: fashion shoes are too pointed or the heels may be too high, causing your feet to cramp up and putting pressure on the balls of your feet. Wear shoes that fit properly— not too small or large or those that go with your dress or uniform—and consider using arch supports, place a soft insole inside the shoe for extra cushioning, as all this makes standing for extensive periods more comfortable.
  • Avoid the temptation of owning just one pair of work shoes. Rotate your shoes very other day or even during each day, as this changes the pressure points that support your foot providing relief to over-used areas and activating different muscle groups.
  • Pay attention to the socks you wear. There is technology now used to help absorb moisture, antibacterial or copper socks to reduce foot odour, and anti-friction socks to prevent blisters and hot spots. Many socks have padding under the balls or heels of the foot to across the instep and some socks even support the arch with extra stretch material.
  • It sounds obvious, but it helps: sit whenever you can, even if it’s a few minutes every hour. When there is no option, shift your weight by balancing from one leg to the other so one leg can rest. Do take your whole lunch hour sitting down if you can, and take every opportunity to walk around your place of work as its standing in one place for hours that’s so tiring.
  • Doing stretches works. This keeps your muscles from cramping and improves blood flow. A few quick standing bench presses for the back and calf muscle stretches can energise the body.

If nothing else, take heart: research has been emerging in recent years showing that sitting down all day can be very harmful for our health. By spending a lot of time on your feet, you’re actually doing the rest of your body a favour!

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