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Happy Feet: 10 Ways Healthcare Workers Can Promote Foot Health


How Nurses Can Keep Feet Healthy

“My feet hurt!”

How many times have you heard that … or said it yourself? Foot pain is the No. 1 complaint of nurses. When your feet hurt, it’s the only thing you can think about. Any other bright spots in your day — funny moments with patients or the kindnesses of your peers — are dimmed from having to deal with sore feet during a long shift.

Your education, your experience, and your feet may be your three most important assets as a healthcare worker. Follow our suggestions below to take care of those feet, and you can enjoy your work for years to come.

Foot care before work

1. Keep your toenails neatly trimmed, and clip them straight across. If you can afford it, get a pedicure. Ingrown toenails are a big source of foot pain. Clipping toenails straight across keeps them from digging into your skin and causing ingrown toenails and infection. Other pro toenail tips: Cut nails when they’re dry, and don’t trim them too short.

Related resource: 7 Life Hacks for Healthy Living as a Medical Professional

Love your feet on the job

2. Stretch! Nurse-friendly stretches you can do on the job include neck stretches, chest and shoulder stretches, and hula-hooper stretches. Wrist and leg stretches can also keep you loose and limber. Deep breathing releases tension, too. If you’re deskbound, get out of your chair and stretch every half hour.

3. Wear compression socks to prevent swelling. This unglamourous article of clothing keeps blood from pooling in your legs and feet due to gravity. If you haven’t already, invest in a seamless pair that’s not too tight or loose, and ends just below your knees.

4. Get new shoes every six months. Yes, that’s very frequent, and yes, good shoes are expensive. Good shoes are an expense that, as a professional, you should invest in. Older shoes may look just fine from the top, but the foam sole quickly becomes compressed and unable to cushion your feet. When buying shoes for a healthcare environment, look for comfort, breathability, support, stability, and non-skid soles.

Here are some good shoe options for when you’re on your feet all day.

Related resource: How to Promote a Healthy Work Culture in the Medical Field

Foot health after a shift

6. Slip into slippers. When you get home, treat yourself to the best, softest slippers your budget will allow, and treat your mules like royalty around the house. We don’t know of any scientific research to support this treatment, but we also don’t know anyone who would disagree: super soft slippers make everything better.

7. Moisturize your feet daily. Use thick lotion on feet (and hands) to prevent cracks in your skin — just don’t apply lotion between your toes, as that can promote infection.

8. Use hot and cold water therapy. After a long shift on the floor, soak your feet alternately in very hot and very cold water. Hydrotherapy stimulates circulation, resulting in a gentle tissue workout. End with cold water to reduce swelling.

9. Soak feet in Epsom salt. Fill a large bowl with very warm water and add a cup of Epsom salts. The minerals reduce swelling, and the heat aids circulation. You can add peppermint or menthol, chamomile, lavender, or other essential oils if it’s been one of those shifts.

Related resource: 50 Self-Care Ideas for Nurses to Recharge on Their Days Off

10. Stop smoking. We know: If it were that easy, you would have already done it. But if you need just one more reason to be convinced, smoking prevents circulation, and when circulation is a problem, the feet are the first extremity to be cut off from blood flow.

At Ameritech, we care deeply about the well-being of our students. Making a habit of prioritizing your health now can lead to a long, happy, healthy career. Give your own foot health the same importance as you would ask of your patients.

To learn more about our nursing, medical assisting, occupational therapy assisting, or other holistic healthcare programs, visit our website.