Nurses spend most of their time on their feet. Whether it’s completing rounds, charting, administering medication, or giving care, nurses are on their feet for most of their shift. In fact, nurses walk about 5-6 miles during a 12-hour shift.
Although nursing comes with many benefits, a sore back and feet are one of the down sides. The lower body endures a lot throughout the day and can lead to severe pain if left untreated.
The impact of bad footwear
Walking or running around the ward to attend to patients can take its toll on your feet. If you aren’t wearing the correct shoes or comfortable shoes, you will quickly start to feel the pain. To put this into perspective, taking a hike in the wrong shoes, or even shopping for a few hours in the wrong shoes can leave your feet damaged for days. The pain may hinder your productivity, the time you take to complete tasks and even your mood. You may struggle to walk, drive, or even put shoes on – and that is only after one day of intense walking.
As a nurse, wearing the wrong type of shoes can increase your risk of developing foot pain, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and more. Poor footwear choices can contribute to common sports injuries such as shin splints and Achilles tendon pain, corns and bunions, ingrown nails, or postural issues and lower back pain.
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, your entire body is like a long chain, with each link (or bone) connected to the next. Naturally, if one bone is damaged, it will initiate a chain reaction causing radiating pain throughout the rest of your body. This is how a mere foot injury can cause long-term leg, back, and neck problems.
The direct consequences of wearing the wrong type of shoes can transpire in a matter of hours, yet it can take months to treat. A few common short-term effects include blisters, corns, athletes’ foot, hammertoes, nail fungus, ankle pain, and many more. These conditions or discomforts are your skin’s reaction to constant friction and restriction. Often, your feet and toes have to adapt to the small space of a tight shoe and will eventually readjust to a specific shape or form.
If you are consistently wearing the wrong shoes, you’re actually causing more harm to your body than you realise. Constant pressure on the joints can lead to arthritis. Additionally, if your shoes don’t have adequate cushioning or other shock-absorbing mechanisms, your body has to compensate for it. If you develop pain in your knees, it’s probably because your knees are acting as shock absorbers instead of your shoes. The type of shoes you wear don’t only support your feet, but your back too. The long-term effects of wearing poor footwear are back injuries, nerve damage, joint pain and arthritis.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, try switching to lightweight, flexible, and breathable shoes, and see the difference for yourself.
Choosing the right shoe
People who have jobs that require extended standing need more supportive footwear than the average office worker or lunchtime walker. When your job involves running alongside a gurney or standing for hours in the ER or operating room, wearing the right shoes is of utmost importance.
It’s essential to utilise a holistic perspective when deciding on the right pair of shoes. Your purchase needs to be based on arch height, foot support, as well as comfortability. Buying a shoe is very individualised, and it is recommended to try on and feel several shoes prior to purchasing a pair.
It's easy to look at a shoe and decide you want it because it’s on sale, or because it looks great and will pair perfectly with your outfit/ scrubs, but is it functional or sustainable?
Foot health contributes to wellbeing
Nursing is physically demanding work that places strain on your lower legs and limbs which carry the bodies weight. The right footwear can help keep your feet healthy, make your physical activity easier and help keep your body safe from injury.