How often do you inspect your feet or practice active foot care? I’m guessing not that often. Are you one who is particularly finding ways as to how to take care of your feet?
If you’re like many, the most care your feet may get is a good scrub in the bath or shower, a nail clipping, and a clean pair of socks.
Or you may take a pumice stone to those unsightly calluses that seem to never quit growing and moisturize a little. That’s better.
Too often, since our feet are waaaay down there at the end of our lower extremities and for most of the day are covered in shoes, we tend to treat our feet as a kind of out of sight, out of mind. Until your feet start hurting or you have a problem. Now is a call to action specially for nurses on the go, finding comfortable nursing shoes to avoid heel pain will be a good starting point.
But for people who spend the majority of their working day on their feet – like nurses – not practicing proper daily foot care can have serious consequences.
Not only can it add up to serious, daily pain that can affect your job performance and quality of life, for those who have a health condition like diabetes, it can even mean the loss of a foot.
We’re going to take a look at the importance of proper foot care and the enormous impact it can have on our daily life – especially for people on their feet 12 or more hours at a time.
Then we’ll give you some simple, easy foot care tips you can do every day to make sure that your #1 form of transportation (your feet) is tuned up and ready to go wherever the day takes you.
Why Good Foot Care Is Essential For Nurses
On average, most people will walk about 8 – 10,000 steps every day. And added up, all that pressure, over and over with each step you take, equals nearly a thousand tons of pressure. Every day.
That’s one heck of a beating. But let’s one-up that number.
Nurses – yeah, they take at least 10,000 steps a shift. Forget about all the rest of the walking they do. That includes the nearly 1000 tons of pressure plus an average 4 miles traveled every 12-hour shift.
That’s a lot of punishment for some tired doggies. And when your job requires you to be on your feet and active for anywhere from 8 – 14 hours at a time, you can’t afford to have something going on with your feet.
Most common problems like corns, bunions, and plantar fasciitis are going to cause you pain – pain that can make a long shift a grueling marathon of torture. But if you don’t care for your feet, it can affect more than just your job. I am sure you are pretty much familiar with “prevention is better than cure” learn ways as to how to prevent plantar fasciitis.
The biggest problem poor foot care can result in for nurses is lowered job performance. Walking, standing, and moving for 12 or more hours at a time is way more difficult – in some cases, impossible – if you’re dealing with a foot issue that’s causing you pain or discomfort.
Quality of Life
And what about your personal life? How good is your quality of life if you’re dealing with severe foot problems? Do you just want to sit at home with your aching feet propped up applying an ice pack? You’ve got an outside life too, shopping, visiting friends, taking the kids to soccer practice, running errands, etc.
Physical activity with a foot issue? Forget about it. If you like getting in a HIIT workout, working in the garden, or going on a long walk, it’s not going to be fun or even doable if your feet are having problems.
This one is part of the quality of life, but if you have health issues, like diabetes, for example, poor foot care can lead to compounding problems that can even result in the amputation of a foot.
What Are The Parts Of Proper Foot Care?
We’re going to expand on some of these concepts later, but there are three basic parts of good and proper foot care. They include:
This includes keeping your nails trimmed, keeping your feet clean, dry, and moisturized.
Most podiatrists will tell you that you should inspect your feet at least once a day. Look for abrasions, cracks, sores, or anything that looks out of the ordinary or is causing you pain.
Maybe this should’ve been #1 since the shoes you wear can have a dramatic effect on your overall foot health. You need shoes that fit well while providing shock absorption and good support.
The Most Common Foot Problems
Even if you don’t have any underlying health problem, if you follow the out of sight, out of mind school of foot care, you’re bound for problems – especially if you’re a busy nurse. It’s not just about keeping your feet clean and your toenails well-trimmed. You’ve got to wear the right shoes.
Here’s Some Common Foot Problems:
- Plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis commonly is the pain that occurs from the bottom of your heel to the middle of the sole of your foot. It’s caused by an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament when it becomes overworked from standing, exercise, or weight gain. It can be caused or exacerbated by wearing shoes with poor arch support.
A bunion is a raised bump or knot on the side of your big toe. It can be just a quirk or your genetics or caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. Bunions can become very painful and aggravated by standing for long periods.
- Ingrown toenails
When your toenail grows into the surrounding skin, it has become ingrown – and very painful. In the worst cases, ingrown toenails can even become infected and need treatment from a doctor.
Corns are thickened circles of skin that develop on the bottoms of your feet or toes. Often they form where on areas of your feet that see a lot of use or from hotspots created by shoes that don’t fit right. Sometimes they aren’t painful but can start to hurt over time.
No need to explain a blister – just a painful fluid-filled pocket on an area of your foot that’s been rubbed raw – usually, once again by shoes that don’t fit well.
Special Consideration: Diabetes
If you’re diabetic, you’ll need to be extra careful with your feet because of diabetic neuropathy, poor circulation and risk for infection that can lead to amputation.
Diabetics need to check their feet twice a day, paying close attention to cuts, cracks and abrasions.
10 Crucial Foot Care Tips For Nurses
Practicing proper foot care isn’t just about a good pair of socks and shoes that fit (although that does go a long way).
It can’t be overstated how important taking care of your feet is for nurses and people who are required to be constantly on their feet as part of their job. Without your feet working at 100%, you’re either in pain, moving slowly, or at worst, out of commission.
You need to hit all three concepts of foot care: maintenance, inspection, and the right shoes.
Here’s 10 Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy, Happy, And Pain-free On The Job:
1. Inspect your feet once a day
Check for anything out of the ordinary: cuts, cracks, abrasions, etc. You may want to treat any open wound or crack.
2. Keep your feet clean
Thoroughly wash and clean your feet; especially between your toes. Best time – after a long work shift.
3. Keep your feet dry
Especially between your toes. Synthetic moisture-wicking socks are better – cotton is soft, but it retains a lot of moisture.
After you’ve got your feet clean and dry, make sure to moisturize with a good foot lotion to help prevent cracking.
5. Don’t cut your nails too short
Keep your toenails trim, but not too short. You should also cut them straight across without rounding the edges.
Before, during, and after a shift, stretch your feet out. It’ll reduce cramping and soreness. Stretch them forward and backward then side to side.
7. Wear compression socks
If you’re not already wearing compression socks, you need to start. The firm pressure they provide helps prevent swelling and soreness in your feet and lower legs.
8. Stay in shape
Being obese or even overweight is putting a lot more stress on your feet – besides, it never hurts to lose a couple of pounds around the love handles.
9. Love your feet
Show your feet some love with an Epsom salt bath, massage or rolling them over a tennis ball or baseball. Elevate and ice them if they’re hurting.
10. Wear good shoes
Your shoes need to fit well. They need to be snug, but allow you room to wiggle your toes. You should have plenty of arch support and a cushiony sole.
- If your shoes see heavy use, change them every 6 months.
- Don’t remove corns or calluses with a razor blade.
- Get yourself custom inserts or orthotics.
If you’re a nurse you don’t know the meaning of the phrase: “Sit down and take a break”. That means your feet are working just as hard as you are (or harder). You need your feet healthy and pain-free to do the job you’re passionate about.
Show your feet a little TLC with some proper foot care – if you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.
How do you take care of your feet after a long shift? We’d love to hear from you.
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