Today, I’d like to discuss some reasons that nurses in particular suffer with sore feet and back pain, actions you can take to help reduce and alleviate these pains and to look into which type of shoes are the best shoes for nurses with sore feet, Back pain and Plantar Fasciitis.
If I may, I would also like to offer some advice on actions and products that are available to you, to help ease the discomfort you may be suffering from being on your feet all day, whether walking or standing.
I hope you find this beneficial.
Why do Nurses suffer with foot and back pain?
There are many reasons why Nurses and medical professionals in particular suffer a lot from foot and back pain. Here are just a few.
- Nurses work a 12.5 hour shift. This is an incredibly long time to be constantly on your feet. There are occasions when on shift, that a nurse will not get any rest time at all, and this puts a great strain on your feet. Your feet are designed to bear the whole load from your body and need rest time to recover.
- On a typical shift nurses will take anywhere from 10000 to 16000 steps, which puts a huge strain on their feet, legs and back
- During a shift there are many times that you may have to move a patient and this can be very strenuous to the legs and back.
- Shoes that are ill-fitting ( too large or too small) and inadequate support or cushioning are a major factor in sore feet and back pain.
What can you do to help yourself?
The good news is there are actions you can take and practices you can install into your routine, to help reduce and combat your foot and back pain and I have listed them below.
- Regular stretching as you would if you were doing a pre-run stretch before, during and after your shift will help loosen muscles and stop them from tightening up.
- Maybe you are carrying a little more weight than you should be so try to lose some. Easier said than done I know from personal experience, but it will put a lot less strain on joints and muscles and in turn will make you lighter on your feet.
- A nice soak in a warm bath will help relieve tired and aching muscles and heat packs and anti-inflammatory rubs will ease lower back pain ( although generally this is a temporary fix ). Using Epsom salts in the bath will also help to provide relief to swollen, achy and tired muscles. There are many bath soaks that you can acquire to use. Soaking the feet in a cold water/ice soak will help the muscles in your feet and lower legs to loosen and recover a lot faster. Your feet naturally swell throughout the day and the cold water/ice soak will bring that inflammation down. I personally always soak my feet in a foot spa for 30 minutes twice a week.
- Elevating the legs when you’re at rest so they are higher than your heart will help reduce pressure on your lower back, legs and feet. I find sitting in a recliner with the legs raised is a great way to do this. I personally sit like this most evenings and for extra elevation I place a cushion under my knees and this helps reduce inflammation and ease the discomfort in my lower back, legs and feet.
- Making use of cushioned socks and compression socks will help reduce the stresses your feet and lower legs go through. Cushioned socks can help to protect the heels and soles of the feet and aid the foot in shock absorption. As we get older the thick fat pads on the bottom of our feet will deteriorate and lose their protective capability and by the time we reach 50 most people will have lost almost half of the fat padding in our heels and at the balls of our feet. So cushioned socks can really assist with this. Compression socks help to improve the blood flow in the legs and help to reduce leg swelling and reduce pain or discomfort. They are also used to reduce the appearance and painful symptoms of varicose veins.
- Pain relief – Anti inflammatory treatments like ibuprofen can aid to relief back, feet and leg pain and are available orally or in the form of ointments you rub in. These are not a long term answer and if you’re taking ibuprofen orally for more than a few weeks you should consult your doctor.
- Finally, the most important action you can take to help yourself is to wear a shoe that will provide the comfort, support and cushioning that your body requires. I can’t stress how important this is. It wasn’t until I took this advice that I started to get some relief from back pain and sore feet that I had suffered with for about ten years and this really changed my standard of life. That may sound a bit over-dramatic but honestly this was the biggest factor in improving my situation. There are a few other things to take into consideration when choosing the right nursing shoe like environment, your hospitals dress code and which ones are suitable for different types of pain and discomfort. For example a nurse with flat feet won’t require the same shoe as a nurse with Plantar Fasciitis. I would now like to talk to you about the different types of shoes for nurses with sore feet and back pain.
Types of shoe – Comfy feet means Happy Feet
There are a few different options when it comes to which type of shoe is right for you, they include clogs, crocs, athletic shoes ( trainers/sneakers ) and casual walking shoes / leather uppers. Whichever of these shoes that you choose, you should research them fully before purchasing to make sure they meet your needs and your work places requirements.
- Clogs – These shoes are a popular choice for nurses and medical staff as they have great arch/heel support, offer protection and are very comfortable. Clogs are made with a closed toe and open back design with an optional rear strap to prevent the clog from falling off. Some clogs come in a strapless design as they have slightly more of a closed back/heel area and are less likely to slip off. The design of certain clogs has the workplace in mind and some features include reinforced toe guards, arch support, anti-slip soles/treads and are made to be fluid resistant. These are a great shoe for nurses that are protective, offer great support and are very comfortable.( It must be noted that it is dependent on your hospital / workplace whether the clog is a permitted type of shoe. )
- Athletic shoes – Trainers/Sneakers – Most hospitals and health care facilities are designed with hard floors because of their ease to clean. However, this makes it extremely stressful to nurses feet, backs and legs. This is where athletic shoes come into their element as they are specifically designed for people who are always moving and making contact with these types of hard surfaces. These shoes are extremely flexible, lightweight and built with shock absorption in mind, which makes being on your feet all day much less stressful to your entire body. You can get athletic shoes that have a lot of features such as memory foam insoles, super grip soles, ankle support and are made with very lightweight materials. This is the type of shoe that I personally use for work and home and it has reduced the amount of foot and lower back pain that I suffer greatly.
- Crocs – These shoes are made from a resin material and have vented air portals on the front and are open or low at the heel. As with clogs they have an optional rear strap or may come as a slip on with no strap at all. The air vents on the shoe are designed to allow the foot to breathe The material the shoe is made of is used in the design to help the shoe to flex and shape to the nurses foot to provide a great deal of comfort. Not all hospitals will permit the use of crocs as they are vented and not protective when it comes to protecting from fluid spills and absorption. ( In my hospital the use of crocs is completely prohibited and I’m pretty sure they are prohibited throughout the U.K.)
- Casual Walking shoes / Leather uppers – These shoes are a mixture of comfort, purpose and a bit more targeted with safety in mind. Due to the upper leathers and general design of the shoe. The upper leather is designed to stop sharp objects (needles) and fluids penetrating your shoe. If you work in a busy environment where coming into contact with both of these is a regular feature of your day, then this type of shoe must be considered. The majority of this type of shoe come with a lot more features than just the leather upper. You can find these shoes with removable inserts and linings to insert your own orthotics, built in air cushioning to help the heel with shock absorption, antimicrobial treated interior linings to combat odour and sweating and anti slip soles. These shoes offer great support, safety and comfort to all nurses. They may not be as lightweight as some of your other options but will provide more protection from sharp objects and fluids.
Love your feet and they’ll love you back!
As I’ve mentioned previously I suffered with very sore feet and back pain for a very long time. Over a period of 10 years I sought medical advice but nothing really seemed to help, It wasn’t until I got pro-active in finding a solution to help with my issues that I found some relief.
The first thing I did was to get myself the correct shoes for my feet and the relief was life changing. Please if you only take away one thing today it is to start taking action and firstly investigate which are the right shoes for your feet and purchase a pair. I promise you it will make such a difference if you suffer with the pains we have been talking about.
Secondly I researched about anything that could help bring me some relief from my issues and that’s when I came across the other actions I could take to help myself. These actions aren’t a fit for everybody, but if you try one out for a small period and it doesn’t help, try another until you find one that helps. You can then install that into your daily/weekly routine and before long it will become second nature.
You are not on your own
Believe me when I say I felt like a bit of a fool doing stretches on the ward at first, but now its second nature and most of my colleagues are doing them as well so it doesn’t matter. Please try to remember that the majority of your work friends and colleagues go through the same trials and tribulations that you do at work and if you discuss it with them you will probably find that a lot of them suffer with pain and discomfort as well. I now am without pain or discomfort most of the time because I took these actions and I hope that you will be too if you take some recommendations we have discussed today. Remember you must take action, find the right shape and style of shoe for your foot and working environment and proceed to implement the stretches and reliefs that we have looked at to improve your situation.
If you have any questions please leave a comment in the box and I will gladly answer them.
Good luck and Happy Nursing
Comfy Shoes For Nurses