Foot pain is the No. 1 complaint of nurses. When your feet hurt, it’s the only thing you can think about. Any other bright spots in your day — funny moments with patients or the kindnesses of your peers — are dimmed from having to deal with sore feet during a long shift.
Your education, your experience, and your feet may be your three most important assets as a healthcare worker. Follow our suggestions below to take care of those feet so you can get back to enjoying your work.
It may seem basic, but keeping your toenails trimmed neatly can reduce pressure on your toes and help prevent ingrown toenails. Clip nails straight across. If you can afford it, get a pedicure on a regular basis. Ingrown toenails are a big source of foot pain. Clipping toenails straight across keeps them from digging into your skin and causing ingrown toenails and infection. Other pro toenail tips: Cut nails when they’re dry, and avoid trimming them too short.
Did you know you can hold a lot of tension in your feet? Stretching regularly can help reduce tension and release tight muscles that may be contributing to your feet and leg discomfort. Nurse-friendly stretches you can do on the job include neck stretches, chest and shoulder stretches, and hula-hooper stretches. Wrist and leg stretches can also keep you loose and limber. Deep breathing releases tension, too. If you’re deskbound, try to get out of your chair and stretch every half hour.
Compression socks are a must-have for any nurse. Whether you’re on your feet all day or bound to a desk, compression socks provide relief from swelling and water retention. If you haven’t already, invest in a seamless pair that’s not too tight or loose, and ends just below your knees. You can also find them in cute prints and colors so you don’t have to sacrifice your sense of style for function.
That may seem frequent, but for a career that requires hours spent on your feet, it’s a worthwhile investment. Your older shoes may look just fine from the top, but the foam soles quickly become compressed and unable to cushion your feet. When buying shoes for a healthcare environment, look for comfort, breathability, support, stability, and non-skid soles.
Self-care comes in many forms, and something as simple as a soft pair of slippers is just the ticket to help you unwind after a long shift on your feet. While you’re unwinding, elevate your feet to help with any swelling or achiness you may be feeling.
Moisturizing your feet daily is essential to maintaining good foot health. As you spend long hours on your feet, your feet may develop callouses, cracks, and dry patches which could add to your already sore feet. Massaging your feet with a quality moisturizer help reduce skin irritation and help increase blood flow.
If your feet are aching after a long shift on the floor, soak your feet in a water bath, alternating between very hot and very cold water. Hydrotherapy stimulates circulation, resulting in a gentle tissue workout. End with cold water to reduce swelling. For added relaxation, add a few drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil to the water bath.
For especially tired and swollen feet, give them a soak in a very warm Epsom salt bath. The minerals in Epsom salt can help reduce swelling while the warm water helps aid in circulation.
We know: If it were that easy, you would have already done it. But if you need just one more reason to be convinced, smoking inhibits circulation, and when circulation is a problem, the feet are the first extremity to be cut off from blood flow causing pain and discomfort.