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Written by Deborah Swanson from allheart.com
My feet hurt after work. What should I do?
If I had a dollar for every time I hear a nurse say they have sore feet I would be rich!
Nurses need to be taking care of themselves now more than ever – especially when it comes to foot care. After all, as nurses working long 12+ hour days we often spend it standing and/or walking the entire time.
Unfortunately foot pain for nurses can become a chronic issue, and as much as we want to ignore it, it won’t go away on its own. In fact, as a nurse who writes a lot about nurse self-care, nurse foot pain and sore foot remedies are on the top of the list!
Did you know that feet are made up of 28 bones and 30 joints (not to mention more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments)?
Our feet are very complex structures, yet they carry our entire body weight around. It is no wonder foot pain is a common complaint among doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who spend long shifts on their feet!
If you’re a healthcare professional suffering from debilitating foot pain, there are steps you can take to help prevent or relieve the hurt. Read on for nine top tips to treat foot pain for nurses.
#1. Choose the right shoe size
If you’re having foot pain as a nurse or other healthcare professional, the first step is to make sure that you’re not wearing the wrong size shoes.
To measure your feet, put on socks and stand on a flat ruler. Measure the length of both feet and then compare it to the brand’s measurement chart.
It’s important to do this for each individual shoe brand you’re shopping for since sizes can differ. If you’re checking the size of your existing shoe, compare it to the measurement you made.
Also remember that some shoes stretch out over time, so if you’ve had your shoes for a while, they might be larger than their original size indicates.
#2. Invest in comfortable shoes
Nurses rack up hundreds of miles in their shoes, which is why it’s essential to buy comfortable shoes that give your feet the support they need. In fact, investing in a high quality, sturdy nursing shoe might be the best remedy for sore foot pain due to being a nurse who is on their feet for up to 12 hours a shift.
While it may be tempting to go for the softest, spongiest sole, you actually need a shoe with a bit of firmness and arch support to encourage the proper form. The sole should be thick and flexible enough that it will provide shock absorption as you accumulate steps.
#3. Buy shoes made for walking and standing
Running shoes may be very comfortable for running, but they won’t give you the support you need during a 12-hour day of walking and standing. Your feet (and therefore your shoes) strike the ground very differently while running vs. walking and standing, so the two types of shoes are constructed completely differently.
That’s why we recommend nursing shoes, which are specifically designed for maximum standing and walking support. If you absolutely must wear athletic shoes, look for walking or hiking shoes rather than running ones.
#4. Consider orthotic inserts
Shoe inserts promote proper walking and standing posture and help accommodate various foot problems, including corns and bunions. Inserts can also be used to provide additional arch support or shock absorption if the factory-made sole isn’t up to par.
Basic insoles can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies and online retailers, but you can also get custom inserts (called orthotics) molded to your feet if you have specific issues that you need to correct.
Tip: If you think that you might need orthotics, make sure that whatever shoe you buy has removable inserts so you can replace them.
#5. Wear compression socks
Gravity is your friend in many ways, but foot pain is not one of them.
Gravity pulls on blood, lymph and other fluids, slowing down their normal flow and encouraging them to pool in your lower body, which leads to swelling. This sluggish blood flow also means that your legs aren’t being replenished with nutrients as fast, which makes them feel tired and achy.
Compression socks provide just the right amount of pressure to keep your blood and lymph flowing to help prevent swelling and fend off lower body achiness.
#6. Elevate your feet after a shift
You can also take steps to reduce swelling after a shift.
Lie flat on a bed or couch, raise your legs above the level of your heart and rest there for 15-20 minutes at the end of your day. This position will harness the power of gravity to drain the blood and lymph from your legs, encouraging it to flow back to your core instead.
If you struggle with a lot of foot swelling and pain, compression stockings–combined with leg elevation–could really make a significant difference for you.
#7. Pamper your feet
If you were looking for an excuse to spoil yourself, this is it.
A cold bath will help reduce swelling in your feet and calves, while a warm soak will loosen up stiff joints and help you move easier. Add some Epsom salts or essential oils to the water for added benefits and a nice smell.
After you soak, gently massage your feet with moisturizer while you check them for signs of calluses, bunions, injuries and anything else that could lead to foot pain.
#8. Stretch and exercise your legs
Exercising on your days off can strengthen your feet and lower legs and help prevent pain on the days that you work.
Try calf raises, ankle rolls, toe presses and other similar exercises. Both cardiovascular and strength training activities will build your stamina more generally and make all of your body stronger, including your lower legs.
If your feet are stiff at the end of a shift, it can help to take a few minutes to stretch when you get home. This will lengthen the muscles after 12 hours of work and help keep them from cramping.
#9. Replace your shoes often
Depending on how hard you are on your shoes and how far you walk each shift, you’ll need to replace your nursing shoes every three to six months. This may sound like a lot, but trust us, it’s worth it.
Wearing worn-out shoes increases your chance of developing both temporary and chronic foot problems. It’s much better to be proactive, buy a new pair of shoes and prevent the problems before they even start.
You only have one pair of feet, so take care of them!
I hope you enjoyed this post about relieving foot pain as a nurse or other healthcare professional who spends a lot of time standing and walking during the day. Managing foot pain as a nurse or other medical professional is so important.
After all, debilitating foot pain could potentially compromise your ability to do your job and give the best quality patient care that you can.
Follow these nine steps to prevent and manage foot pain so you can take the next step forward in your career!
About The Author
Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com – a site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys. She keeps busy by interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening.
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