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Swollen ankles. Achy feet. Lower back pain. These are only a few downsides to standing on your feet all day. Being a nurse gives you the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, but the pain of being on your feet all day is a common problem. A study published in MEDSURG Nursing found that nurses walk an average of four to five miles during a 12-hour shift. Compare that to the two-and-a-half to three miles most Americans walk during an 18-hour day and you are prone to issues like plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and varicose veins. What can you do to prevent pain? Try these four accessories for relief.
Shoes with a lot of support and cushioning are key when you’re on your feet all day. There are a wide variety of shoe options out there that have arch support, wide toe boxes and 1.5-inch heels – all features that can help prevent pain and support your foot.
No matter what brand or style you buy, you need to replace them regularly. Runners replace their shoes every 400 to 600 miles, so nurses who are working three 12-hour shifts each week need to change their shoes every 8 to 12 months to make sure they’re getting optimal support.
Although not the sexiest accessory, these will make a difference in your level of fatigue from standing all day. Compression stockings apply pressure to your lower extremities, which encourages venous return, limits leg swelling, and helps prevent varicose veins.
To be effective, you need a pair that fits you well. To ensure a proper fit, measure your legs in the morning before any blood pools in them. Fytto Style stockings are nude so you can wear them discreetly and brands like McKesson make pairs that are thigh-high for extra support and control. You can also opt for a compression sock in a bright, fun pattern to add a little pizzazz to your scrubs.
Insole inserts, which are available at most pharmacies, are a simple solution to easing lower back pain and foot pain. Your foot absorbs the most shock from walking, so added insoles help to absorb some of this shock, putting less of the pressure on your foot.
There are many types of insoles available depending on your needs. SpenCo Polysorb Cross Trainer Insoles absorb odor and prevent blisters while Powerstep Pinnacle Premium Orthotic Shoe Insoles are made with medical-grade foot support and have anti-microbial fabric. Dr. Scholl’s has a foot mapping machine that evaluates the unique topography of your feet and recommends the best insole for you that can further help prevent foot pain, knee pain and lower back pain.
The arch of your foot acts as an important shock absorber, keeping your feet from pain and fatigue as you walk. If your arches fall or flatten, you can experience discomfort, pain and your feet may get tired faster.
A good set of shoes or added insoles can help support and cushion your arches, but you can also get additional arch support in the forms of wraps or arch lifts. Products like the Fabrifoam Tarsal Support Wrap are light and easy to use. They simply wrap around your foot and you can wear them in your shoes. Another version is the 3pp Arch-Lift, which has a sewn-in arch pad to conform to the foot while providing upward lift and compression.
Prevention is the best medicine, so protect yourself from common problems associated with standing on your feet all day while working as a nurse. Practicing good foot and leg health can help give you the energy and ability to get through your shift and prevent future medical issues. Try these accessories alone or together to find what works best for you. It is a small investment in your health, but your feet will thank you!