Many occupations are hard on the feet, and visits to our office for work-related foot problems are on the rise.
People who spend eight hours a day or more walking or standing at their job often suffer from chronic foot disorders, such as heel pain (plantar fasciitis), hammertoes, bunions and blisters, which occur from repetitive stress and may be aggravated by wearing inappropriate footwear. This repetitive stress can also lead to painful hairline breaks in the bones of the foot called stress fractures.
Workplace safety regulations often require employees to wear steel-toed boots or shoes. While this protective footwear prevents injuries from industrial accidents, the rigid toe box that guards against traumatic incidents is also responsible for the chronic foot problems many industrial employees experience, such as toe irritation, heel pain and Achilles tendon stress. To relieve toe discomfort, some workers opt for shoes with more room in the toes but are too big. Over time, the ill-fitting shoes put too much pressure on the heels and lead to plantar fasciitis and Achilles problems. In some cases, surgery is recommended for treatment of plantar fasciitis and other conditions when conservative treatment doesn’t provide long-lasting relief.
Most industrial workers would benefit from protective shoe attachments that can be strapped onto the toe box of a flexible work shoe. These attachments provide the necessary protection and are much better for feet than steel-toed shoes.
Orthotics can also provide excellent support and relief from repetitive stress. They correct biomechanical irregularities, realign joints and cushion daily pressure on the feet. Orthotics also help prevent complications, such as pain in the lower back, knees and hips, which result from bad posture related to foot discomfort.
If you work on your feet all day, we advise you to evaluate your footwear choices to be sure they are comfortable and appropriate for your occupation. If practical, cushioned athletic shoes are highly recommended. For employees who must wear formal business attire, we advise wearing dress shoes that are wide enough and also recommend using arch supports or orthotics.