Do your feet or legs ache during, or after work? What about your lower back?
If you work on your feet for a living, moving, lifting, or standing for long periods of time, there can be positive health benefits like better muscle tone, reduced risk of diabetes and even a longer life expectancy. But it can also bring pain to your joints, tendons, and spine, raising the risk for injury that could prevent you from working.
Whether you’re a construction worker, hair stylist, flight attendant, or cashier, these simple tips will show you how to prevent common day-to-day ailments and maximize your comfort during your work week.
Work on Your Feet All Day? Choose the Right Footwear:
The right shoes support only not your feet, but also your legs and back. Proper arch support is especially important to help absorb shock and to help protect the joints in your legs and spine. Here’s how to get the most out of your footwear:
- Don’t go flat. Instead of wearing shoes with a flat sole, find some with a short heel that is at least 1/4-inch tall, but not too much taller. A little heel will provide better arch support than no heel at all. Also consider getting over-the-counter insoles to help boost your arches.
- Opt for wiggle room. Look for a shoe with an adequate toe box to give your feet enough space for toes to wiggle and to help to prevent constriction and blisters.
- Lace up. They might seem cumbersome, but shoelaces help stabilize your foot, preventing unwanted motion and reducing the chance for injury.
- Stop blisters. Blisters and raw skin are risks even if your shoes seem to fit perfectly before you go to work. Outside, it depends on the weather, the temperature and amount of humidity, and anywhere, it depends on the shoe structure, whether you wear socks, what kind of socks, sweat, swelling, and of course, the kind of work you do.
Take Breaks When You Can
Sit down or take a walk outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes every hour. Here are a few tricks to help you get the most out of your breaks:
- Stretch your hamstrings. The hamstring muscles run lengthwise along the back of your leg, from your hip to your knee. Tight hamstrings can contribute to lower back pain so keeping them limber will help you feel better throughout the day.
- Ice up. Keep an ice pack in the break room freezer so that you can ice sore muscles during your breaks. Applying ice for just 10 or 15 minutes a day can help reduce swelling and pain.
Find a Daily Exercise Routine
While it seems counter intuitive, a daily workout routine can help you stay comfortable on the job day after day. A low-impact exercise routine will boost your flexibility, strength, stamina and might even provide some needed stress relief after a long day.
- Practice Yoga or Pilates. Basic yoga classes can improve flexibility in two months or less, while more advanced classes help strengthen key muscle groups. Pilates offer exercises that focus on core muscles which are essential for supporting your back and keeping it healthy.
- Dive into swimming. Swimming helps massage tired muscles, loosen up joints, strengthen your body, and boost aerobic endurance. Moving yourself through water creates resistance that strengthens muscles even better than running and without the harsh impact on your knees.
Straightforward strategies like these done consistently will help keep you comfortable and safe from day-to-day work on your feet– instead of simply tired and sore.