How are your feet and lower back doing after a long hospital shift? If you are a physician like me, the answer to this question is probably “owww they’re so sore!”
Choosing comfortable work shoes can affect your entire body, from preventing lower back pain and unsteadiness, to curing fatigue and tendonitis. The shoes you wear can make all of the difference in your work day. It allows you to practice patient care without suffering from pain that can be avoided. This isn’t to say that you can stop stretching and exercising, those things should be fundamentals to your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. However, knowing what to look for in selecting your work shoe can definitely reduce external stressors that cause foot fatigue and pain!
Try Shoes On To Test Comfort
First and foremost, try the shoe on! Sounds pretty basic, right? Currently, many of us have transitioned into online shopping for ease and convenience. Shoe sizing is not universal, even within the same brand you currently own and your foot size can change over time. It’s important to purchase a few sizes in the same style of choice if you are shopping online to ensure the appropriate fit. You can always return what doesn’t fit correctly. Make sure you are aware of the store’s return policy. When you try a shoe on, you want to do it later in the day as your foot naturally expands with use during the day.Make sure the shoe feels immediately comfortable and cradles your foot in all directions securely, without being too wide or tight. This will helpavoid foot painfrom standing all day.
Find Lightweight Shoes
Next, when looking for a comfortable work shoe, make sure it is lightweight in construction. The added weight of a bulky shoe can cause foot fatigue very rapidly. Sturdy shoes with thick soles and steel toes (if needed) without the extra weight are simple to find. Some light-weight shoes weigh only approximately a pound! which you can check out here. Your safety should always come first, so make sure the shoe has a slip-resistant outer sole, as well. Proper ventilation allows for the circulation of air which creates a very conducive environment for the feet. This inhibits moisture from building up which can prevent athlete's foot infections and foul odors. I always recommend alternating work shoes throughout the week to give your shoes a chance to air-out and dry. Breathable, mesh materials also stretch to help accommodate foot/toe deformities such as bunions and hammertoes. Furthermore, shock absorption is key in choosing a comfortable work shoe for daily wear.
Invest In Orthotics For Extra Support
Depending on your foot’s arch height, you may want to invest in a solid pair of inserts, also known as orthotics, for additional support and comfort. People with arch heights that are too high or too low (flat feet) can be more prone to certain conditions that can causefoot pain and fatigue, like plantar fasciitis (more commonly known as heel pain), shin splints, and other tendonitis of the foot, ankle and lower leg. Inserts come in a variety of styles and lengths, including some that can fit in dress shoes and pumps.Here are a few brands to try when purchasing orthotics!
My rule of thumb: if it’s too flat or too flexible, it’s not going to give you the support you need throughout the day. Make sure you take your inserts and daily socks with you when you go shoe shopping to ensure proper sizing. You may have to go up half a shoe size, depending on the thickness of your socks and inserts.
Check Your Shoe Treads For Continuous Comfort
Lastly, know when to replace your shoes. Routinely check the tread pattern on the bottom of your shoes. Treads for shoes are just like tires, when they’re worn out, they must be replaced. Note that your treads will not wear evenly throughout the sole. Pressure areas, depending on your foot type, will cause the tread to wear more quickly, such as under the big toe, or at a corner of the heel. When you start noticing specific areas of the tread becoming smooth and even with the sole, it will be time to replace it.
Carefully picking comfortable work shoes are essential, especially when patient care and standing all day are both part of daily job . Wearing the wrong shoe for even a short period of time can cause stress to your bones, joints and the soft tissue that surrounds them. Following these steps and learning how to minimize the stressors with the proper shoes is key to maintaining an active, pain-free lifestyle. If you experience foot or ankle problems, talk to a podiatrist either through a tele-health visit or in person!
About The Author:
Dr. Kinna Patel is a Board-Certified Foot and Ankle Physician practicing in both Florida and Georgia. She completed her bachelor's degree at New York University and attended Temple University where she earned her Doctorate. Dr. Patel finished a 3-year Podiatric Medicine and Surgery residency in Miami, FL with an additional certification in Reconstructive Rearfoot and Ankle Surgery. It was in Miami where she first started working with professional sports teams and trained with the Miami Heat team surgeons. She continues to work with professional athletes, as well as patients of all ages, ranging from infants to the elderly, for general and specialized foot and ankle conditions. When she is not practicing medicine, Dr. Patel enjoys traveling, writing, volunteering at animal shelters and spending time with her family and friends.