Why are you sitting on the floor?
August 5, 2007 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Knee and foot pain. How do I get through working a 9 hour retail shift?

Over the past few days, I've noticed an increasingly bad pain in my right knee in the mornings, and an incredible stiffness and soreness that doesn't go away, even after a couple of days off and a long hot bath (I work full time, so 5 days a week).

The foot pain is mostly in my heels and ankles, and I think may just be because I'm not used to retail. I've been wearing sneakers instead of my dressy work shoes in an attempt to alleviate it, but it doesn't seem to be helping much.

The pain in my knee is there all the time- when I wake up, when I shower, when I drive, or walk around the store putting up tags. It's just kind of a dull throbbing when I'm sitting down, but turns sharp if I bend it.

Do I need to see a doctor, and how can I get through my work shifts in the meantime while I hurt in some fashion the whole time?
posted by Glitter Ninja to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
Oh man. Yes. See a doctor. The foot pain could very well be because you're not used to working retail (cashiering, I'd guess?). But the knee thing ... don't mess with that.
posted by limeonaire at 8:31 AM on August 5, 2007

How about an insert for your shoe? It might be that you have one leg slightly longer than the other (IANAD, and I apologise if this offends you), or something, and standing up all day makes the problem worse. You could be "favouring" one leg over the other, or "dropping a hip" without realising it.

I find that some comfort insoles really help when I have to stand all day. Make sure and get some decent quality ones if they do help, because (in my case, anyway) they wear out really quickly.
posted by Solomon at 8:33 AM on August 5, 2007

Wear better shoes and you will truly get used to it.
posted by k8t at 8:34 AM on August 5, 2007

Response by poster: I'm kind of half a cashier. I work in a drugstore at a cosmetics counter, so I'm actually behind the counter very little... most of the time I'm out on the floor stocking items, or doing resets, or putting up tags.
posted by Glitter Ninja at 8:34 AM on August 5, 2007

I'd talk to your HR department about it. I'm not sure where you live, but in many areas it's an employer's responsibility to provide a safe work environment, and if your work environment is negatively affecting your health, they're legally obligated to address the problem.
posted by scottreynen at 8:43 AM on August 5, 2007

Try wearing Crocs-type shoes. Not very subtle looking but wow are they comfortable.
posted by acorncup at 8:46 AM on August 5, 2007

I've heard good things about Z-Coil Shoes.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:49 AM on August 5, 2007

A lot of doctors and nurses and other people who are on their feet a lot wear Dansko clogs. Maybe worth a try?
posted by walla at 9:14 AM on August 5, 2007

Consider also a wrap/knee support to see if that helps.

I had a lot of problems with my ankle when I started waitressing and one of those ankle bandages that you probably sell in your drug store really helped--it was just enough support to keep my ankle from hurting a lot. There are similar knee braces also available at drug stores.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:22 AM on August 5, 2007

Two things.
1) Get some real good shoes. You might have to drop $100+, but in the long run, it's worth it. Find a local running store who specializes in shoes. The good ones actually know what to look for with insteps, which way your foot points, etc. to help you find a shoe that fits your walking style.
Or, just buy a pair of Rockports/Merrels/etc (there have been previous threads on high quality shoes you might find of use), not a $10 pair of WalMart shoes.

2) I might suggest a decent knee brace and/or an ankle brace to help with stabilization. When I was a server on my feet for 10+ hours/day, I started having problems with my knee and a stiff knee brace always cleared it up. Same thing for my ankle- a stiff ankle brace that you can buy at your local sports shop can help. The first time you wear any kind of brace, it will feel really awkward at first. Also, the brace should be tight, even a tab bit uncomfortable. If it's sliding around, it's not working.
My pain was also due to old CC/Track injuries, so they were more sport related and YMMV.
posted by jmd82 at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2007

Seconding the Z-coils. I was recently at the hospital and saw a nurse wearing these weird springy shoes, and asked her about them. (I was biting my tongue to not make a Gerald McBoing-Boing joke.) But she said lots of nurses wore them, that they made endless hours on the feet far more bearable.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:49 AM on August 5, 2007

In addition to good shoes, try taking an anti-inflammatory for your knee pain, and ice it when you get home instead of using heat. See a doc before wearing a brace, as that can sometimes make problems worse if it's not fitted properly. (IANAD, etc.; I used to have very bad knees, though. Ice, good shoes, and aspirin helped.)
posted by rtha at 12:08 PM on August 5, 2007

Obviously people do get used to working on their feet all day. Suitable shoes are key, but don't have to cost a lot -- have you tried asking your co-workers where they get theirs? New thick insoles may help pad and hold the shoes you have got.
posted by Idcoytco at 12:33 PM on August 5, 2007

My legs hurt when i first started working retail, but it wasn't as bad as what you describe. People might tell you that you'll get used to it, but your problems seem worse than normal.
posted by exhilaration at 12:44 PM on August 5, 2007

I have to say no to the Crocs-- they might be comfortable, but they don't really offer support. That's a big part of it. Depending on how active you were before you started this job, it can definitely take a while to adjust when you're on your feet all day. And if you're bending/squatting often, that could explain the stress on your knee.

I haven't had the knee pain, but I did have plantar fasciitis (I had it but can't spell it) last year and the key to getting over that was stretching and changing shoes. I had terrible daily pain last spring and summer, but this year, after buying some good shoes, I was pain-free all summer. Good luck!
posted by Sabine3283 at 2:46 PM on August 5, 2007

Go to the shoe store in the hospital district (most cities have one of these) that sell the shoes for nurses, and buy a pair. They will be the best $100 you ever spend.

My wife has terrible knews- 7 surgeries so far- and she needs to be on her feet all day as a teacher. She does fine with her orthopedic nurse's shoes. They have several styles that look pretty professional, so you don't have to look like you're wearing sneakers or orthopedic shoes.
posted by Doohickie at 7:28 PM on August 5, 2007

She just passed by- the brand she uses is "Softwalks". The make them for women for sure and she thinks they make them for men too. The other brand to look for is "SAS".
posted by Doohickie at 7:30 PM on August 5, 2007

Go see a podiatrist. You might benefit greatly from custom orthotic insoles.
posted by flabdablet at 8:06 PM on August 5, 2007

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