5 Cures for a Nurse’s Aching Feet
July 25th, 2011
By Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN
What do nurses, restaurant workers and retail sales folk have in common? The one that comes to my mind first is life lived on your feet. At one time or another, I have worked in all of these areas and there is nothing like the pounding your dogs take when you are standing, walking, even sometimes running all day long. Whether you work in the OR, the ER or on the floors, only you can save your soles.
Feet are amazing pieces of engineering. Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and 19 muscles. The whole structure is held together by more than 100 ligaments. Finally, there are approximately 7,000 nerve endings in your foot. No wonder they hurt. So what do you do to fight foot fatigue, perish pedal pain, heal hurtin' hooves? Here are a couple of answers for nursing your feet back to good health.
- Change your shoes. Clogs are cute and sneakers are safe, but there are dozens of different shoes and styles on the market and not everyone's feet need the same gear. Walking shoes should be replaced every three to six months, and essentially, walking is what you do for your job. Treat your work shoes like the athletic gear they really are. Don't go by appearance. Shoes can still look great on the outside while the inner supports are totally worn out. Best advice: have at least two pairs of work shoes and rotate them. Also, get fitted properly at least once a year. Age, weight, and how much you exercise can all change your foot size and shape. Bad shoes equal bad feet.
- Lose weight. I hate this one but it's true. Those little extensions at the ends of your legs do a lot of work, and the more they have to carry around, the worse they feel. Losing even 10 pounds can make huge difference in the amount of pressure on your feet.
- Stretch. It is as important to stretch your feet as it is the rest of your muscles. Lie on your back and lift up one leg to a 90 degree angle; hold there with both hands. Point your foot then flex it with a full range of motion. Do two sets of 25 point-and-flexes per foot at least two times per week. Plantar Fasciitis is pain in the flat band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes. Anyone who walks, stands, or runs for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces, is prone to developing this excruciating ailment. The most common way to fix it is to stretch your feet. Place a towel or belt around the ball of your foot and do a slow, steady stretch, pulling towards your body. It may take several weeks to resolve and lots of ice and ibuprofen.
- Soak them in Epsom Salts. It sounds like a remedy from Grandma but it is proven to work. Take 20 minutes to half-an-hour and let your feet soak in a mixture of warm water and epsom salts. The salts draw out excess fluid, lactic acid and waste products that can be causing swelling and pain. The combination of warm water with the magnesium in the salt eases the pain in your overworked muscles and joints.
- Get a pedicure. It's not just for women only. A visit to your local salon for a pedicure can ease all that ails you. A soak, a massage, and a little pampering can go a long way. Cutting, clipping and cleaning of the nails prevents them from growing inward and causing infections and pain. The elimination of dirt and bacteria from your feet will also help prevent nail diseases and disorders and helps eliminate foot odor. Plus, most salons have massage chairs and that's pretty relaxing too.
Your feet are a precious commodity as a nurse. You can't care for your patients if you can't get to them. Keep your feet healthy, pamper them a little and give them appropriate support and rest. None of us is getting any younger and our feet need to carry us a long way for a lifetime.
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