If you think standing up on your feet is always better than sitting, then you may be surprised to discover that you’ve been mislead. The truth is that your occupation can contribute to foot problems. For example, constant walking on hard, inflexible surfaces can exacerbate joint damage. You need to design a strategy and save your feet.
But it’s not your fault if you’ve been believing that standing is always better than sitting. Or perhaps even making the assumption that the negative effects of sitting means that there can only be positive results from standing. That’s because all over the internet you can catch the trending buzz phrase “ Sitting is the new cancer”. I, myself, have written about how bloggers are damaging their backs by spending too much time sitting.
Looking at The Broader Picture
Have I changed my mind about the ill effects of too much sitting?
No. A strong core will alleviate back and foot pain, and constant sitting for long hours will over time weaken the core and thus increase the occurrence of back and running related pain. That said, there are some occupations where extensive standing is a danger to one’s health. Perhaps you are a recreation runner who has just gotten a job as a nurse. This will apply to you.
The good news is that it’s not too late to repair the damage when it comes, turn things around, and start getting better results with better information.
It starts right here, right now, since you’re about to discover how to apply knowledge about running injury prevention to remedy your foot pain at work.
Let’s get started…
Runner’s Training Error and it’s Relationship to Nurse’s Long Shifts
If you have read my previous posts, then you know that one of the biggest causes of running related injury is training error. This is a situation when a runner pushes herself or himself too hard and doesn’t allow time for muscle recovery. This can result in a set back in any gains made by training because of damage caused by such stress to the feet or knee.
Now take a look at what a study on nurses shift reveals:
A 2006 study of 2,273 nurses showed that more than half of those sampled reported they typically worked 12 or more hours per day, some over 13 hours. A third reported working more than 40 hours per week, and/or six or more consecutive days, periodically. Many reported working extra shifts on scheduled days off and vacation days, working through scheduled breaks, working more than one job, and working rotating shifts that interfered with sleep schedules. Many nurses reported working 50 to 60 hours per week and up to 15 hours per day with insufficient time for rest and recuperation between shifts.(1) https://www.massnurses.org/health-and-safety/articles/miscellaneous/p/openItem/1358
The essence of running error is that if your body is not repairing itself then most likely it is breaking down. Thus it’s not a big leap to realize that nurses who work long hours on their feet also put their body through a lot of stress. This makes them vulnerable to “substantially more injuries to lower extremities” (2) ( Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter October 2008 Edition).
We are Talking About Things Like Pain in The Legs, Knees, and Ankles
Thus one of the things that you’ll have to include in your strategy to safe your feet from pain is to adjust your shifts so that they don’t interfere with sleep schedule. This may mean saying no to working extra shifts on scheduled days off or vacation days. Yes, this may mean less money. However, in the long run your health may be worth a lot more.
Repetitive Walking on Concrete-like Surfaces Will Cause Plantar Fasciitis
As I reported in previous posts, the type of surfaces has a big impact on the intensity of running related injury. A runner who runs on concrete is far more likely to put stress on his or her feet than one who runs on grass and thus suffer more heel pain. We can make a similar observation when we note that constant walking on hard, inflexible surfaces can exacerbate joint damage and often result in plantar fasciitis.
A good question that you’ll need to ask yourself is this: what is the percentage of nursing time you will walk on non-carpeted surfaces?
Remember that the longer you walk on non-carpeted surfaces, the more likely you are to experience plantar fasciitis. One nurse put it this way:
“ I love nursing but after a twelve hour shift my feet hurt. After night#2 my feet and ankles hurt and by night # 3 I just want to cry…”
If you don’t want to cry or give up the job, your strategy should include reducing the percentage of time you work on non-carpeted surfaces. So let’s say you presently work on non-carpeted surfaces 90%—100% of the time. You’ll now want to reduce the percentage to get it closer to 0%.
Choosing The Right Gear
As I have mentioned in a previous post, When the foot strikes the ground during running the ground produces a force back against the foot. This force is focused mainly on the foot and ankle then continues through out the leg and body. This means that a runner needs shoes that can act as shock absorbers.
Let’s Connect This To Nursing And Shoe choice
Most runners are advised to change their shoes every six months. If they are heavy, even sooner. It turns out that this is the same advise given to nurses. Shoes should be changed every 500 miles or 800 kilometers. For a healthcare professional working 40 hours per week on her feet, this equates to about a couple of times a year (every six months). Those who are heavier or who are struggling with pain or injury might need to change their shoes even more often (every three or four months).
Dr. Peggy Malone is a chiropractor and athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. She makes the following statement:
“When a patient comes to my office with a new symptom such as knee pain, shin splints, heel pain, hip pain or back pain, one of the first things I ask about is the age and mileage of their shoes. Since shoes can appear to be in good condition but fail to provide adequate support, this is often a reason for a new injury.” (3)
You thus need to understand how often you purchase new work shoes
- About every 6 months
- About every year
- About every 18 months
You should set a goal of purchasing new shoes much closer to 6 months than to 18 months.
Losing Weight to Reduce Pain
Sudden weight gain in runners is a major reason for injury. In a previous post I mentioned a survey by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS). It found that foot and ankle problems can be linked to an individual’s weight and body mass index (BMI). More than 6000 individuals responded to the survey, which was conducted on the Society’s public education website,(4 )FootCareMD.com. Here’s what you need to know. A conclusion of the study states: “Increased BMI has also been found to increase foot pressures with standing and walking, and is no doubt a precursor to foot and ankle pain.”
If you are offered a job an a nurse, you should include such low impact activities such as swimming to safely help you reduce the pounds. This is the same advice I would give a heavy runner.
You just learned how to design a strategy and save your feet if you are a runner about to get a job as a nurse. And that means you can now take measures to ensure that the job you love won’t leave you with lasting foot pain.
To that end, let’s quickly recap what you learned in this post:
- You learned how to stop your body from breaking down.
- You found out how knowing the age and mileage of your shoes can help you prevent knee pain, shin splints, hip pain , and heel pain.
- Plus you have discovered how foot and ankle problems can be linked to an individual’s weight and body mass index (BMI).
If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and construct a chart that compares how hard you worked your feet before and how hard you are working them as a nurse. For example, what is the percentage of the time you spent working on non-carpeted surfaces before versus now. How often did you purchase shoes versus now? Making this chart, it doesn’t have to be , and shouldn’t be, complex. Just something that enables you to track your level of pain to any new changes in your routine. Then give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re now all set to lessen your foot pain.
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(2) Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter October 2008 Edition
Moving violations: negative impacts of standing and walking in nurses’e health 10.15.2008