Are Nurses on Their Feet All Day?
In many cases, yes. One of the most common nurse health complaints is foot pain. Especially for some nurses who work on their feet for up to 12 or more hours a shift.
But, there are ways to help yourself (and your feet) to prevent foot ailments and care for yourself on your days off. This article will review the risks and body impacts of standing all day, tips for nurses to care for their feet, and the best shoes for nurses to help prevent foot pain and keep their feet healthy!
How Standing All Day Affects Nurses
Standing and moving frequently is generally beneficial for overall health for most people. But is it possible that some nurses stand and move too much in a single day?
Research shows that prolonged standing for occupations such as nurses and other healthcare professionals is associated with many potentially serious health issues.
In fact, the more hours that many healthcare professionals are required to stand each shift is often directly correlated to an increased risk of negative health outcomes such as leg and foot pain, fatigue, cardiovascular issues, and pregnancy-related health issues.
As much as many nurses love their jobs, the career comes with some wear and tear on the body. Some of the body impacts of standing all day include:
- Lower back pain due to increased pressure on the muscles that support the hips and lower back
- Leg pain due to increased fluid build-up that causes the legs to swell
- Foot pain due to muscle soreness from constant use from walking or standing
7 Tips for Nurses on Their Feet All Day
If you are experiencing side effects from standing all day, know that there are many things you can, and should, do to help yourself.
Being on your feet all day is a part of a nurse’s job. The sooner you give your feet the attention they deserve, the better off you will feel later in your nursing career.
Stretching is a great way to help prevent and decrease leg and foot soreness and improve muscle circulation. There are even several great stretches you can do during your nursing shift, such as:
- Standing quad stretch
- While holding onto a wall or counter, kick your back foot to your butt and grab your ankle. Gently flex your hip forward to elongate the front of the quadriceps muscle. Hold for several seconds while taking slow, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
- Standing calf stretch
- Place one foot against the lower part of a wall with your heel on the ground, and your toes pointed upwards against the wall. Gently stretch the calf for ten seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Standing lunging calf stretch
- If putting the foot against the wall is too intense, try a lunging calf stretch. Step one foot behind you and bend your front knee. Keep both toes pointing directly forward and put the back heel down until you feel a stretch in the back calf. Hold for ten seconds, and repeat on the other side.
- Sitting chair toe raises
- Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Raise one calf at a time (while pressing the toes into the ground) and hold for ten seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Then press each heel into the ground while curling the toes upwards. Hold each side for 5-10 seconds.
Yoga is an excellent activity for nurses to decompress, release muscle tension, and nurture themselves after being on their feet all day.
To get started, you can find many videos on YouTube like this one: Yoga for Nurses from Yoga With Adriene
#2. Compression socks
When you work on your feet all day, the circulation in your lower body has to work even harder to return the blood to your heart. It is ideal for nurses to give their legs a rest when they feel tired. But since that is often not possible during a nursing shift, the next best thing is to get several pairs of quality compression socks.
Compression socks should be part of every nursing uniform. Benefits of compression socks include:
- Preventing or reducing varicose veins
- Improving blood flow
- Decreasing the risk of blood clots
- Decreasing leg and ankle swelling
It’s hard to make healthy food choices when you are tired during a long shift, so it is essential to plan your meals the day before. Here are a few tips:
- Always have a water bottle to help prevent dehydration, which can worsen muscle soreness.
- Pack your lunch with nutritious food to prevent making bad food choices while feeling stressed during your shift.
- Keep high protein snacks such as nuts, trail mix, greek yogurt, cheese, or protein shakes in the break room to prevent your blood sugar from crashing.
#4. Choosing quality shoes
Make sure you have a great quality nursing shoe to give your feet great support. Quality shoes can also help:
- Protect your back
- Reduce stress on joints
- Prevent slipping and injuries
#5. Orthotics and inserts
Many nurses find that adding orthotics or inserts with extra padding gives them that extra support they need to help with foot and back pain.
#6. Elevate your feet
Elevating your feet at the end of a long shift will help circulate the extra blood and fluids in your legs. If you have leg pain due to swelling, elevating your feet against the wall can eliminate that pain.
#7. Massage therapy for feet
You can give yourself a gentle foot massage to help relieve muscle tension after a long shift. Or consider seeing a massage therapist regularly as an added treat.
Best Shoes for Nurses on Their Feet All Day
Luckily for you, we have researched dozens of the best shoes for nurses and other health care professionals who have spent years working within the profession.
It is one thing for a company to say that a shoe has excellent features and benefits for those who work on their feet all day. But it is a different ball game to hear what real nurses with many years in the profession say are the best shoes. After all, they have spent years wearing them!
Here are three of the best shoes for nurses:
One nurse with five years of experience working in a labor and delivery unit had this to say about Figs New Balance 996 shoes:
“The shoes are incredibly stylish but also comfortable. These shoes are perfect for someone who wants a little height because the soles are thick. I could also wear these shoes out and about because they’re comfortable, functional, and stylish.”
Alice Benjamin, a Critical Care nurse with over 20 years of experience, says that she liked Asics shoes because they are so comfortable on her feet “even after several hours of standing.”
3. BALA Shoes
Tens of thousands of nurses pitched in to help design the BALA Twelves. The result is a uniquely crafted shoe based on female foot morphology and packed with nurse-specific features.
It is no surprise that nurses who walk and stand for long shifts put an extraordinary amount of stress and strain on their lower extremities. Nurses are also working harder than ever with sicker patients and higher nurse-to-patient ratios.
But great nurses don’t shy away from the challenge. They meet it by finding solutions that benefit their patients and themselves. One of the best places to start is by managing the stress they put on their bodies while working long, often arduous nursing shifts.
It is possible to manage some of the body impacts of standing all day, such as lower back, leg, and foot pain, and swelling of the lower legs, by:
- Stretching the legs and feet
- Wearing compression socks
- Drinking water regularly during your shift
- Practicing yoga to help you decompress
- Packing your lunch and snacks with nutritious, higher-protein foods
- Recuperate after shifts by putting your legs up a wall or seeing a massage therapist
Lastly, make sure you wear quality and properly fitting shoes. You must find a pair designed to be worn by people working in professions that stand for several hours daily. When in doubt, it’s helpful to ask fellow nurses with the most experience what their favorites are.
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