September 18, 2017 | 20 minute read
Published in Keep Going
Although sitting has been hailed as the new smoking, standing on your feet all day presents a whole new world of pain and problems if:
You’re not wearing the right shoes;
You don’t alternate between standing and sitting
You don’t have adequate add-on support in your shoes
Standing wrongly can change your posture and bring on issues like sore knees, tight hips, ingrown toenails and lower back pain. It is important to understand that good posture is different for everyone. Getting assessed by a Chiropractor to establish whether you have a tilt (anterior or posterior) to your posture will go a long way in maintaining your general skeletal health.
We’ve put together a ‘Save your Feet’ list of must-do’s, because we know just how much of a downer achy-feet can be after a hard day of work and because, of course, we’ve got your back!
This might sound really obvious, but a better standing position can alter how you use the muscles you need to engage. Try engaging your core muscles and activate your glutes for some immediate relief. These adjustments, at first, feel strange and need to happen consciously; over time, with practice, you’ll find yourself doing these micro-adjustments without even thinking about it. Bad posture begins with your feet- hyper-pronation (feet rolling inward- you’ll know this if the soles of your shoes are always worn out on the inside of the foot) is a major culprit and people with hyper-pronation subconsciously roll their feet outward to counteract the hyper-pronation leading to your knees being over-activated and this can cause (among other issues) shin splints…
What could go wrong: Shin splints is the pain you feel in the front of your shins. It’s most commonly associated with people who are athletic and do sports that require short sharp stops and quick bursts of speed; however, shin splints can actually affect people who spend a lot of time on their feet doing repetitive tasks.
How can I fix it?Take a look at your posture in a full-length mirror- are your shoulders drooping? Are your hips jutting out too much in front of you? Or maybe your bottom is sticking too far out behind you and you have a very pronounced C-shape in the small of your back. All these postural habits can and should be changed in order to stand better.
Always seek professional help from a medical expert such as a podiatrist or a chiropractor before doing any exercises or self-adjustments. Your best bet is to ask for a personalized exercise/adjustment plan that takes into account all factors like age, weight, lifestyle etc.
Yoga can help you to self-correct your posture and a good yoga teacher will be able to help you to adjust your posture so you can see the benefit of your adjustments during and after class.
Treat the pain in the front of your shins with an icepack- the pain is an indicator that the muscles are inflamed and the best way to calm inflammation down is to cool it off. If the thought of an icepack on your shins makes you grit your teeth, use a face cloth that’s been left in the freezer over the affected area.
This is specifically important for people who are unable to move around too much during the work day and are stuck standing for hours on end, eg. cashiers. Taking posture breaks are of paramount importance. Varying your position during the day can help to break the monotony your feet muscles go through.
What could go wrong: Circulatory sluggishness caused by gravity can make you feel tired, headachy, your back muscles take strain and in some instances, it can actually negatively impact your mood.
How can I fix it? Here are 3 simple exercises that will improve your circulation and get the juices flowing back into your legs during the day.
A lacrosse or tennis ball is small enough to fit into your handbag. Remove your shoes and roll it under each foot for 1 to 5 minutes- depends on how much time you have. This gentle massage will give your soft feet muscles some relief.
Take a large step forward and bend your back knee touch the floor. Your back leg is now perpendicular to the floor with and your front leg is bent at 90 degrees. This exercise stretches your thigh muscles and your hamstring muscles out.
Stretch your leg out over the armrest of a chair (we suggest this exercise be done out of view of your customers!), stretching out the hamstrings to full extension, roll your foot clockwise and then anticlockwise from the ankle down 10 to 15 fifteen times.
An anti-fatigue mat is a great investment, it reduces fatigue caused by standing on a hard surface. They mimic the topography of uneven ground and put your entire body slightly off kilter so you’re forced to make adjustments to your posture.
Amongst the plethora of issues that cause Plantar Fasciitis, excessive standing is amongst the top ten. Plantar Fasciitis is the stabbing pain you feel under the soft part of your foot and around the heel cup.
What could go wrong: Heel spurs can develop if PF is left untreated. Because any weight bearing activity will cause more PF pain, running and jumping will start to become a problem leading to inactivity and by this time we know why inactivity will send us to an early grave. Your body will also automatically change the way you walk to compensate for the pain your feet are experiencing bringing along with it all the issues that will arise from that change.
How can I fix it? Getting a good arch support added into your shoe will really help. If store-bought inserts aren’t offering you any relief, try getting custom orthotics. Wiivv offers custom orthotics that fit your feet and offer additional support that will make all the standing you’re doing more bearable.
The plantar muscle runs from the back of your heel to the toes - this long muscle gets tight and inflamed when it is stressed out by excessive use. Stretch it out by crossing one leg over the other whilst sitting in a chair, grab the big toe of the foot that’s crossing the leg that is planted on the floor and pull on the flexed toes creating a deep stretch on the bottom of your foot.
Stand arms’ length away from a wall, step back with your right foot and bend the left knee as if you were trying to touch the wall with it. Repeat on the other side.
Whilst sitting in a chair or on the floor, fold a small towel and place under your foot, pull the ends of the towel toward you whilst flexing your toes- first flex towards your face and then point them away from you
Use a large foam roller or a filled water bottle to roll your foot back and forth on. Either stand, or sit on the edge of a chair whilst doing this exercise. For added relief, you can refrigerate the bottle of water before using it.
By this time, we know that you’re aware of the importance of a great fitting pair of shoes. Stay away from heels over 3 inches and if your job requires a heel, go with as chunky/blocky a heel you can find. See our article on how to make your shoes more comfortable for some good ways to improve your comfort. At the risk of sounding like all we do is talk about fit, we’re going to go out on a limb here and say: ‘fit fit fit!’
What could go wrong: In the short term, issues like corns, blisters and bunions, foot pain can plague your feet. In the long term, the effects can be even worse- back pain, collapsed arches and plantar fasciitis amongst other avoidable dysfunctions.
How can I fix it? We really cannot stress any more on the importance of getting your feet measured before making any purchase. Lifestyles change and this does affect our feet size and shoe fit. A bespoke pair of shoes can change your life in a revolutionary way but it can be expensive. Google local reputable shoemakers in your area if this is an investment you can make.
Standing all day can cause some serious swelling issues which in turn can cause unsightly and often painful varicose veins. These are the thick, gnarly veins that develop often on the inside of the knee or behind it. They’re not life-threatening but they can get seriously painful and can cause self-confidence issues.
What could go wrong: Since they’re not life-threatening, nothing serious could go wrong, but they are unsightly and for some, the pain becomes a really hot topic when discussed with a healthcare provider who may suggest minor surgery to help to alleviate some of the pressure causing the blood to pool into these bulby shaped veins.
How can I fix it? Compression socks/ hosiery can really help in preventing your feet from swelling up during the day. They force blood back into circulation and prevent any clogging/pooling up at your calves.
Lying on your back, lift your leg without bending the knee to let the blood flow backward to your heart.
These are more effective done on the edge of a step. Stand with your heels hanging off the edge of the step, raise up on tiptoe with both feet, and release downward so your heels drop below your toes.
Lying on your back, cycle your legs in wide looping circles.
Naturally, a foot soak might not be an option for every day. Try to at least soak your feet once a week to truly relax the minutiae of muscles in your feet. A mustard soak is a great remedy using ingredients from your pantry to detox your feet and draw out the pain from your muscles. Add 1 tablespoon of dry mustard powder and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a foot bath. Soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes. It’s not a bad idea to try to soak your feet more than once a week if you have the time.
Therapeutic massage is a great way to relax your feet. Self massage with a tennis ball, whilst not as luxurious as having your feet massaged by a therapist, is just as effective at working out the kinks from your feet.