We all know about the dangers of having a desk job and sitting all day, but did you know that spending long periods of time on your feet can also have adverse side effects? As anyone who works in the service industries or health care sectors already knows, being on your feet all day can cause all sorts of aches and pains by the end of a shift.
However, recent studies have shown that standing for more than five hours a day can also contribute to more long-term issues, such as lower-limb muscle fatigue, which can increase the risk of long-term back pain and musculoskeletal complaints. Research also shows that standing for long periods can lead to limb swelling, excessive pressure on joints, flat feet, varicose veins, and heel spurs. While standing does not cause coronary problems, those with existing coronary conditions may find their symptoms worsen due to poor blood circulation from being vertical for such a long time.
So, what can you do about it?
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to manage and avoid foot-related problems, and some of them are more fun than you think!
The first stage in good foot care is to make sure you are kitted out in good quality, well-fitted shoes. Investing in a pair of shoes that are designed to absorb the stress of standing for long periods will inevitably reduce stress on the joints and muscles in the long run. It also means that you won’t have to deal with pinched toes, sweaty feet, cramps, and poor support. Good quality shoes may cost more than their poorly fitted alternatives, but the health rewards of having great support for your feet are priceless.
Getting into a habit of regularly massaging your feet will also help to manage any aches and pains. While it might be nice to have someone else do it, there are lots of simple techniques you can learn to do yourself. The important things to remember are:
● Bend all toes over and pull them back again to encourage flexibility in the joints
● Take each toe individually and gently pull up and twist back and forth before releasing
● Using your thumbs, fist, or a rounded massage tool, massage in a circular motion from the heel to the balls of your feet and then back down again
● Learn where the basic reflexology pressure points are on the soles of your feet and press them gently to help relax other parts of the body
Another less obvious technique to manage potential foot pain is to learn to carry a good posture. Believe it or not, your posture holds the key to strong, flexible, and pain-free feet.
When your body is not perfectly balanced and aligned, it creates significant pressure on certain points of your feet, which, in turn, means the body needs to compensate by twisting the hips and knees. The knock-on effect of this is that the tendons and muscles are overstretched and end up becoming sore and tight. The longer you maintain bad posture, the more problems you will have with your feet in the long run, so make it a priority to incorporate a good posture into your daily routine.
These are all great techniques, but what about the fun ones? Well, you can actually increase the dexterity and stamina of your feet by taking up a footwork-based hobby such as basketball, boxing, dance, or capoeira. Your feet might not get much of a workout from standing and walking around all day, but by using them for capoeira exercises or for learning the tango, your feet, ankles, and knee joints will build up dexterity from the unusual patterns of movement. This, in turn, will help to build up the strength and stamina of the legs and feet, which will allow you to stand for long periods with fewer health repercussions. Great, huh?
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