my poor feet
June 14, 2006 11:41 AM   Subscribe

So I got a job working in a bar. But I've got a problem: my feet don't seem to be able to take it.

I like the job -- I like the people, it's not too much hard work, and all the rest of it. Every day I've worked so far, though, I've come away with my feet hurting like absolute hell, to the point where I can hardly move (it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to walk home). The pain doesn't even start to subside until I wake up the next day, making it impossible to do anything in the evening apart from writhing around in agony.

I've tried a few obvious things. At first I thought it must be my shoes, so I tried some old, comfy trainers, but the same thing happened. Then I thought I must just be moving around too much, so I asked to stay behind the bar for a day -- but they still hurt the same. Stupid as it sounds, it seems like my feet just can't take standing up for extended periods without hurting.

This is bad enough now that I'm seriously considering taking a lower-paid, crappier job just to avoid the foot pain. Is there anything I can do to stop it hurting so much?
posted by reklaw to Work & Money (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Foot pain is extremely common infood service work. The bar should be providing anti-fatigue rubber matting to stand on behind the bar. Here is an example.

These are a pain to rinse out at the end of the night, but make a huge difference to stand on.

If the bar won't invest in them, and you stand mostly in one place you could get a doormat size one and install it yourself at the bar.
posted by AuntLisa at 11:52 AM on June 14, 2006

Crocs are the most comfortable shoes I've ever wore. I'm a cook, and often pull double shifts. Not only do my feet feel fine after a shift, but so do my shins and shoulders (I usually feel as if someone had been standing on them...). Many others at the resort thought they were funny looking, but after purchasing some, nothing but raves. They're about $35; worth a thousand.
posted by JABof72 at 11:57 AM on June 14, 2006

Second the crocs, you should really give them a shot.
posted by bigmusic at 11:59 AM on June 14, 2006

I don't know how long you've been working there, but I had a similar problem and my feet eventually got used to all the standing and barely hurt at the end of the night. Might want to wait it out a little bit if you just started the job.
posted by hootch at 12:09 PM on June 14, 2006

The anti-fatigue matts do make a huge difference, so they're great if you are mostly behind a till or bar, less useful if you're running orders to tables all night.
posted by raedyn at 12:14 PM on June 14, 2006

Damn you crocks! Why must you be the answer to every single "shoe" question?!
posted by zpousman at 12:22 PM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second the wait it out suggestion. my feet get used to it. also, make sure you have no slip shoe soles. walking to make sure you don't slip seems to require more control and makes my back hurt when i forget my slip free shoes.
posted by gilsonal at 12:39 PM on June 14, 2006

Clogs are worn by most surgeons and medical residents, as they're on their feet all day long.

A number of ER attendings and nurses swear by the Z-Coil. While not the most fashionable, they say they're incredibly comfortable when they're on their feet all day long.
posted by gramcracker at 12:40 PM on June 14, 2006

I have heard lot of good things about Keen shoes. I just bought a pair last weekend. I am a teacher and I am on my feet a lot! The begining of the school year every year just about kills me. After a week or 2 the pain starts to go away. I have been looking for a great pair of shoes (and some that look good) for 10 years. I sure hope these work out or I just might have to buy a pair of the fugly crocs.
posted by nimsey lou at 12:48 PM on June 14, 2006

I go in for Dansko clogs. Pricey, but stylish in a pug-ugly sort of way.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2006

If the bar doesn't provide one of those rubber mats, check to make sure they aren't violating a law. Some state laws require them.

I nth that your feet will eventually get used to it. I also think that you need shoes with some serious arch support moreso than just comfy trainers.
posted by jennyb at 1:04 PM on June 14, 2006

I'm not entirely sure what sort of shoes you were describing, but there is a world of difference between simply "comfortable shoes" and "shoes you want to wear when you're standing for 8+ hours" -- the main difference being that when you're standing for a long time, you want a lot of support.
posted by dagnyscott at 1:22 PM on June 14, 2006

Check out compression stockings too - I know some people swear by them.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:35 PM on June 14, 2006

The Payless Shoestore version of Crocs are much cheaper (around $15) than regular Crocs and very comfortable.
posted by lucyleaf at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2006

Comfy trainers are the last shoes you want to wear for extended periods. They're probably so comfortable because you wore all of the support out of them.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:10 PM on June 14, 2006

And the last time I had a job where I had to stand a lot, the best shoes I found were Vasque Sundowners (boots, actually). They gave me wicked shin splints for about a week because they were so damn heavy, but afterwards they were a dream.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:11 PM on June 14, 2006

RE: Shoes - you need to find a happy medium among comfort, support and the weight of the shoe. Shoes or boots made specifically for hiking might be your best bet.

You may want to consider having your feet evaluated by a podiatrist or a sports medicine doctor. Your feet might pronate (lean in) or supinate (lean out), and the resulting stress on the joints and ligaments causes the pain. If this is true, orthotics will help.

Actually, staff at a store catering to serious runners or hikers would probably be knowledgeable enough to get you fitted with good shoes based on the mechanics of your stride.

And check into gel shoe inserts. There are some you can buy at a drugstore that might do the trick.

Weight training and stretching exercises with specific emphasis on the feet, ankles and lower legs will help too.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:39 PM on June 14, 2006

Response by poster: Well, they look funny, but it seems worth a try. Where can I get these Crocs shoes in the UK? I don't think the mat thing is going to fly.

Also, for the people who said they got used to it: how long did it take?
posted by reklaw at 2:47 PM on June 14, 2006

So that's why we have those rubber mats at work! If the bar you work behind doesn't have them, consider asking them to buy some, or buying some yourself—I haven't had any foot pain since I started working part-time at an ice cream shop, and now that I know what those mats are for, I attribute my success in that respect to the mats. 'Cause it certainly isn't because of my flat-soled, worn-out Adidas Gazelles...
posted by limeonaire at 2:57 PM on June 14, 2006

I work in a (wood) shop and am on my feet for eight hour shifts, with a 30 minute lunch, so I feel your pain! (If it's any consolation, it's *much* worse when the floor is bare cement! The harder the floor, the more wear on your feet) I also have pretty high arches, and my regular selection of shoes just didn't make the grade. After some shopping around, I settled on Shoes For Crews, which specializes in shoes for restaurant workers, but also makes a couple of models with steel toes which are a requirement for me. Not only are they comfortable, with good support, but the company makes a big deal about the 'no slip sole' on all of the shoes. This isn't much of a problem for me, so I can't say much about it, but working in a bar would be a different situation...

Really, the key is to make sure that you have the absolute best support you can get in your shoe. Even adding insoles can be a big help, if a bit expensive in the long run, since you need to keep changing them every couple of months.

As for 'getting used to it', it took me a couple of months to become at least somewhat comfortable with things. About a month for the regular agony to stop.
posted by schwap23 at 3:11 PM on June 14, 2006

Just for another option.

I spent many a year wearing Simple clogs while waiting tables and bartending (Still wear Simple just not the clogs). Some of the most comfortable shoes I ever owned.
posted by bitdamaged at 3:50 PM on June 14, 2006

Many are quick to blame the shoes when it comes to stuff like this. However, socks and footbeds are usually the issue. Make sure you're wearing properly padded socks. You know why those cheapo socks come in bags of 8 pairs for 5 bucks? Because they're crap, that's why.

As for footbeds, you absolutely can't go wrong with Superfeet . I managed a large chain surf/skate/snowboard store in NYC for a few years and was turned on to them there. I still use them. I wouldn't even bother putting on a pair of shoes if I didn't have them. Takes comfort to a new level.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:41 PM on June 14, 2006

I work for prolonged periods on a concrete factory floor, and I have to be careful to look after my feet, particularly since I'm a heavy guy. It boils down to :

1 - comfortable shoes
2 - good insoles for the shoes
3 - good socks with padding (try an outdoors store)
4 - getting used to it - your endurance will increase fairly quickly.

I agree with the rubber floor mat idea, those are wonderful if you're working in a fairly small amount of floorspace.
posted by tomble at 8:54 PM on June 14, 2006

I work for prolonged periods on a concrete factory floor, and I have to be careful to look after my feet, particularly since I'm a heavy guy. It boils down to :

1 - comfortable shoes
2 - good insoles for the shoes
3 - good socks with padding (try an outdoors store)
4 - getting used to it - your endurance will increase fairly quickly.

I agree with the rubber floor mat idea, those are wonderful if you're working in a fairly small amount of floorspace.

I also recommend doing some walking to toughen your feet up a bit, it also helps get rid of pain after a long day.
posted by tomble at 8:55 PM on June 14, 2006

I worked shifts on my feet for 8 hours straight for nearly a year and my feet never "got used to it." If things don't get better, see a podiatrist or an orthopedist... they can have supportive insoles made for you.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:20 PM on June 14, 2006

I nth the Crocs recommendation, and add one more: switch to a different pair of shoes midway through your shift. Heck, switch back and forth two or three times if you can. The normal fatigue you experience from being on your feet all day is aggravated when the pressure points on your feet never change. The slightest shift of pressure around your arch or the ball of your foot from a change of clogs 6-8 hours through your shift can feel like a new set of feet.
posted by cdadog at 7:38 AM on June 15, 2006

You must put in a good, supportive footbed. It is not an option: it is a requirement if you wish to keep your feet and legs in good health.

I can second the SuperFeet recommendation. There are a couple other brands that are good, too. Note that Dr. Scholls has nothing good.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:17 PM on June 17, 2006

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