Nurses’ feet pain is one of the most common challenges that nurses deal with on a day-to-day basis. According to a study in Permanente Journal (2008), a nurse can walk up to 5 miles during the day and 3 miles during night shift.
Interesting Feet Trivia
Did you know…
- A person weighs more when walking compared to when a person is standing. Because of push energy, an added 30 per cent of weight is added to standing weight.
- A foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, more than 100 tendons and muscles, and over 7,000 nerve endings.
- Feet have 250,000 sweat glands and can produce 4-6 ounces or more of sweat per day.
Factoring everything in, it’s no wonder nurses suffer so much from foot pain.
Common Foot Ailments
Below are common foot problems experienced by nurses. Do you suffer from any of them?
- Corns and calluses
- Heel spurs
- Heel pain
- Ingrown nails
Quick tips for avoiding foot pain
Listed below are some practical and common sense advice on how to avoid or minimize foot problems in the first place.
Find out what feet you have
Are you flat-footed? Overpronated? Find out by dropping by a running shoe store or a podiatrist. They can run a simple test to find out what arch support you need so they can point you to the right type of shoes for you to buy.
Replace shoes often
After six months of steady use, the structural support in your shoes might be breaking down. Check every 8-12 months and replace as needed.
Also Read: Best Shoes for Nurses
Don’t rely solely on online reviews
We’re all built differently so one person’s shoe heaven can be hell for another. Online guides are a good starting point for knowing the best shoes for nurses but discovering the best fit for you means trial and error.
Consider buying several pairs of your favorite shoes
When you DO find the perfect brand and model for you, consider hoarding and buying several pairs in case the model you like gets retired. You can even alternate between two pairs to cut down on smell and the effect of wear and tear on your feet.
Also Read: The 12 Best White Shoes for Clinicals
If you’re overweight, lose some pounds. Walking on hard concrete floors with extra weight will double the strain on your feet. Lose weight and your feet will thank you for it.
Remember the long-wide-deep rule
When choosing your shoes, don’t make the mistake of choosing shoes simply because they make your feet look nice and small. Make sure that your shoes are long and wide enough so that your toes and feet aren’t getting squished. They should also be sufficiently deep in the toe area so that they’re not rubbing against the tops of your toes.
Try compression stockings or cushioned socks
Cushioned socks help protect your feet especially if you are older and the fat pads on your feet have worn away. Compression stockings, in the meantime, can help keep your legs and feet from swelling.
Also Read: 9 Best Compression Stockings for Nurses
Natural Remedies for Nurses’ Feet Pain
With so much walking nurses do on the floor, it’s sometimes impossible to avoid getting feet pain altogether. Rather than popping a pain reliever, here are some natural remedies that you can try to give comfort to your feet. We’ve added a few Ayurvedic solutions which you might find interesting.
1. Stretching Exercises
For this exercise, you’ll need to lie on your back. Bring one leg up to a 90 degree angle. Point and flex. Do a full range of motions. Do two sets per foot two or three times a week.
Grab a towel and with your leg extended, place the towel around the ball of your foot. Pull towards your body gently doing a slow and steady stretch. Feel the stretch on your hamstrings and feet as you pull towards your body.
Also Read: 5 Minute Workout Exercises for Busy Nurses
2. Hydrotherapy with hot and cold water
You can alleviate feet pain using cold water but some patients have found hot-and cold-water therapy to be more effective. As you know, the hot treatment helps in circulation and blood flow while the cold treatment reduces swelling.
Get two basins or buckets and fill with cold water and hot water separately. Before using the hot water, make sure to test that you won’t be scalded.
Next, while seated, dip your feet in the hot water for three minutes. Do the same with the cold water for 10 seconds or up to a minute, whichever you can bear. Repeat the whole thing two or three times more. Make sure to end with the cold water.
You can also use heat pads and ice packs in place of the basins of hot and cold water. Do 10 minutes on each to relieve pain and swelling.
3. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is not really salt but rather, pure and natural mineral compound of magnesium. It is known for easing pain and inflammation.
To use, run a warm bath and add in two or three tablespoons of Epsom salt. Soak your feet in the tub for 10 to 20 minutes. (If you get dry skin, apply moisturizer after your bath.)
If you want to turn it into a total relaxing experience, you can add in your favorite essential oils, light a candle or two, and put on some relaxing music. Just don’t fall asleep in the bath!
The awesome thing with natural remedies is that a lot of the solutions are right in our kitchen shelves. Vinegar can help with muscle strain as it reduces inflammation. Here are two variations of the hydrotherapy solution and the warm bath solution.
Hydrotherapy with vinegar:
Prepare two containers for hot and cold water. Put equal amounts of vinegar and water for the hot water and cold water. Get a small towel and soak it in. Squeeze and wrap it around your foot for 5 minutes. Repeat the process up to 4 times alternating between the hot and cold water.
Foot bath with vinegar:
Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar to your warm bath. Add sea salt or Epsom salt and soak your feet in for 10-20 minutes.
5. Herbal oil massages
Massage your feet with herbal oils to loosen tightened tissues and increase circulation. Each herbal oil has distinct medicinal properties that would also help in alleviating your foot pain.
Here are some herbal oils that we recommend:
- mustard oil
- olive oil
- chamomile oil
- clove oil
- sweet marjoram
For quick relief, gently massage your aching feet with medicinal herbal oil. You can feel your pain and tension easing as the oil warms on your skin and hands.
For nurses with sensitive skin or open breaks in the skin, you can dilute the herbal oil with one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil and then massage your feet with it.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is a rich source of capsaicin, which is known to relieve muscle aches, pains, and strains which makes it ideal for relieving feet pain.
To use, add half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to half a bucket of hot water and soak your feet in it for a few minutes.
Ginger, especially turmeric ginger, is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has long been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
Important note: If you have low blood pressure or have a blood disease, skip this remedy altogether.
To use, set up a warm foot bath with 1/3 cup grated ginger. Soak your feet in for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help relieve stress and tension, reduce inflammation and flush out toxins including excess uric acid.
Drink turmeric ginger as tea for added benefits like weight loss and reducing swelling. You can make turmeric tea simply by boiling a piece of turmeric and adding in honey to taste.
Here is a nice video that discusses the benefits of the tea while preparing a delicious recipe.
8. Diet for sore feet
Ayurvedic experts believe that Vata Dosha imbalance can cause pain in the body and one solution is to adjust one’s diet.
While the concept of Vata Dosha might be alien to us, changing one’s diet is not unusual when trying to deal with arthritis and other feet pain maladies. If you are serious about wishing away your feet pain, try to avoid eating specific foods for a few weeks, like animal foods and citric foods. Instead, choose food high in carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, cold water fish, and flaxseeds. Observe your condition for a week and see if it is helping.
Some people who have had chronic pain from arthritis or gout attest to being pain-free after following a no-pork or raw diet.
9. Cherry juice or fruit
Eat at least 10 cherries a day or drink diluted fresh juice.
According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a three-ounce serving of pitted dark cherries can give you 82 and 297 mg of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that help relieve inflammation. The internet also abounds with anecdotal stories of the healing qualities of cherries.