Ouchy Feet
June 5, 2006 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Tips for alleviating pain from standing / walking around for 12+ hours at a job?

I started a new job in a hospital where the shifts are 12 hours. Because I have to get there early and end up staying late it really is 13 hours where I am standing / moving around the whole time. I'm in fairly good shape and have started up yoga again in my free time, and plan on buying some new, better shoes (they have to be white sneaker-type or nursing shoes).

Any tips for exercises, yoga positions, shoes, things I could do at work and home to make the pain not so ouchy when I get done with work?

I'm only 2 weeks in so maybe I'm not used to it yet. But I've always had jobs where I stood a lot (retail, bar-tending etc.), but never this long and with this level of physical demand (moving large patients, equipment etc.).

I'm 38 and want to age gracefully but worry this job and the career in the field that may follow might make me hurt too much if I'm not careful.

Any tips / suggestions are much appreciated!
posted by dog food sugar to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Here is some advice on picking shoes from a recent AskMe question. Don't know if you saw that or not.
posted by voidcontext at 9:31 AM on June 5, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you so much for the reminder! I do remember that excellent thread. Unfortunately I don't get paid for another week and am in some debt so the proper shoe buying might be a good month or two off. In addition to proper foot wear, I was wonder what others do to prevent pain. Thanks again.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:38 AM on June 5, 2006

Best answer: Yoga Journal runs back-pain articles pretty often. The current issue says that (Western, real good ol' medical) studies have shown yoga is actually more effective than traditional physical therapy for all kinds of back pain, but point out that "back pain" is a rather generic term, so what helps one person may not help another. They recommend working with an experienced teacher, at least at the beginning, to help figure out where your own stiff/weak areas are.

(And if you haven't told your current teacher about your back pain, that's probably a good place to start.)
posted by occhiblu at 9:39 AM on June 5, 2006

Heh, rereading your question I see that you didn't actually mention your back -- just have it on the brain, I guess!

All my yoga teachers seem to be on a foot kick lately, too, so asking your teacher about proper foot placement (making sure your weight is equally on all four corners of your feet) may help with your feet, if that's your major concern. Keeping your toes spread is also hugely helpful -- shoes tend to bunch them out, and it can be good to stretch them out and go barefoot when you can.
posted by occhiblu at 9:42 AM on June 5, 2006

bring an extra pair of shoes and switch off periodically throughout the day. gel insoles might be nice. epsom salt footbath at the end of the day (or even on your lunchbreak if you have time).
posted by purplefiber at 9:48 AM on June 5, 2006

Best answer: You're on your feet the whole time, so you might not have the opportunity to do my favorite thing, which is to sit in the lotus (or half-) position during lunch breaks. This always relieved a lot of fatigue in my knees and legs, in maybe 15 minutes (while I was also reading/eating).

While standing in place you can do tree pose/vrksasana: bring one foot to the opposing leg's inner thigh. Rather than try to balance, just relax your bent leg, letting its weight pull it down to deepen the stretch.

I can't live without Birkenstocks. When I've been wearing other shoes and my feet hurt at the end of the day, I put on some Birkenstocks and find an excuse to stand, rather than sitting down to rest: the footbed puts my feet back into happy shape, rather then letting them heal and stiffen into crappy shape. And they do come in white and alpro. But keep in mind that you need to break them in, and that you may get blisters on your arch if you overdo the break-in. I've also been interested in getting some Earth shoes (sneakers here) but no promises there, though they claim to help your posture.
posted by xueexueg at 10:01 AM on June 5, 2006

Have you tried gradient compression stockings? They improve venous return and prevent swelling, helping tired achey legs. Try Jobst or NurseMates. You should be able to find them at your local scrub store.
posted by viachicago at 11:19 AM on June 5, 2006

Response by poster: occhiblu that back-pain stuff is excellent. I do want to avoid all-over achy-ness. purplefiber that is a wonderful idea! And xueexueg - thank you so much for your detailed reply. I really appreciate all of your input!
posted by dog food sugar at 11:20 AM on June 5, 2006

Not the same, but a few times a year I have to go to trade shows where I am on my feet 16 hour+ days for a week at a time. After 10 years of pain, I finally got a pair of Ecco shoes, and have been pain-free ever since. I #^$@#! can't say enough kind things about Eccos.
posted by gregariousrecluse at 11:38 AM on June 5, 2006

my dad has back problems and also loves ecco
posted by radioamy at 11:44 AM on June 5, 2006

Ditto my husband the teacher. He loooooooves his Eccos.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 12:03 PM on June 5, 2006

I once had a job where I had to stand twelve hours a day, with minimal chances to walk or sit. I found that a remarkably simple and effective way to get my feet to stop aching once I got home was to take a hard rubber ball (like the kind for juggling) and run my bare feet over it, applying a decent amount of pressure. It made for a really good foot massage!
posted by kimota at 12:18 PM on June 5, 2006

I worked at CompUSA and would have to stand for 8 hours at a time, minus a 30 minute lunch, in crappy shoes (hey, I was 17, I couldn't afford much else).

You get used to it. After a month you won't even notice it. And your friends will hate you for being able to stand in long lines without getting tired.
posted by exhilaration at 2:14 PM on June 5, 2006

Cheaper solution than new shoes is orthotic arch supports. Spenco makes some hard orthotics that are very good. They have a hard plastic arch and a soft foam cover.

You can get them from a runner's store or a sporting goods store.

They also make softer orthotics that are less expensive but give less support.

If your feet are just hot and tired, a nice soak with epsom salts feels good. Also try elevating your feet.

There are little rubber things with soft rubber spikes that you can roll your foot on.

Lots of good foot thingies at runner's stores.
posted by Ilaine at 3:33 PM on June 5, 2006

Wear wool socks - even in the heat of the summer doing construction, my foot sweat isn't onerous. In addition, drop thirty bucks on some Superfeet inserts. They turned my take-them-off-when-I-get-to-the-car steel toes into shoes I can wear to get a few beers after work, and I don't even feel the need to take 'em off until I turn in at night.
posted by notsnot at 4:20 PM on June 5, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you everyone so much for taking time to answer. All your answers are of great help!!!
posted by dog food sugar at 4:26 PM on June 5, 2006

Best answer: Gel insoles are helpful but make sure to get Dr. Scholl's- the generic knockoffs are useless.

Buy yourself some good foot lotion or gel, preferably containing some kind of cooling agent (peppermint, menthol, etc) and give yourself a good foot rub when you get home from work.

Johnson's Foot Soap is also good for a soak.

And do the legs-up-the-wall pose- I did it the other day, when my feet were absolutely killing me, and it helped so much!
posted by elisabeth r at 8:01 PM on June 5, 2006

Best answer: If you're already doing yoga in any formal sense, nothing we could tell you would help with exercise or stretching. If you're just doing simple exercises, then you may want to find a program. I've found Gaiam's Stress Relief Yoga very valuable (some of the reviews on Amazon complain that it's too short, but I find it just right for a body in pain--I can make it through and feel better), but if you're well past beginner level, then ignore that bit.

Others have better shoe advice than I, I'm sure--oddly, the best shoes I've found for my feet have generally been cheaper ones--I wear $10/pair Okabashis when I can get away with it and $25/pair Wal Mart Tred-Safe nursing shoes when I'm waiting tables--I find them comfortable for long-term standing and walking, almost cheap enough to be disposable (they'd last me longer than they do if scuffing didn't count against "uniformity"--they're picky about our uniforms), and easy to care for.

My fiance's stepmother worked as a nurse for decades and swears by Profoot's 2-ounce miracle shoe inserts, but I'm not sure where to get them--Googling only brings up info sites and articles that mention them. She gets them at K-Mart in the Midwestern USA (MI-OH areas).

Other suggestions--soak in a warm bath, with a few drops of essential oil (lavender is nice for relaxing). Keep a couple old socks filled with dry white rice (and tied off at the necks) in the freezer--they're ice packs on sore/strained spots, or after 3-4 minutes in the microwave, they become hot packs for loosening tight, aching muscles (one on the neck and one in the small of the back for me).
posted by Cricket at 10:55 PM on June 5, 2006

Response by poster: Cricket I'm very much an out of practice beginner again. So thanks so much for the recommendations. Elisabeth r, EVERYONE, thank you so very very much for your excellent answers.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:55 AM on June 6, 2006

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