How often do you rub your feet and worry about the wear and tear they experience on a daily basis? Many people work in harsh environments that place huge demands on their feet, ankles, calves, and lower bodies. With time, that wear and tear can add up to a serious injury that requires recovery time outside of the workplace.
If you’re worried about workplace-related foot injuries, we have some tips to help you protect your feet as well as all the muscles and joints that depend on those feet to function properly and stay strong.
What are the Most Common Workplace Foot Injuries?
There are three primary ways you can injure your feet while at work:
Some of the most common workplace-related foot injuries include, but are not limited to:
These injuries may occur during a fall, slip, or trip. They may happen when someone leaves equipment in a dangerous and unexpected place. There are also situations where an injury results from employer neglect or poor supervision.
The problem with workplace injuries is you don’t expect them and often can’t see them coming. You’re secure in your job until suddenly, something puts you on the sidelines with a serious injury.
No one wants to experience a work-related foot injury, but what can you do to protect yourself? We have some tips that you can implement right away for maximum protection.
Check Your Footwear
Look at each pair of shoes or boots that you wear to work and answer the following questions honestly:
Uncomfortable, unsupportive or footwear lacking safety features is a leading cause of workplace-related foot injuries. The more time you spend on your feet, the more important it is to invest in footwear that provides the support and comfort your feet need to thrive.
Rotate Between Sitting and Standing
Standing for long periods of time is exhausting for your feet, especially on concrete or other hard flooring. Some of the side effects of excessive or prolonged standing include:
The best way to give your feet a break is to rotate between sitting and standing throughout the day. If you’re unable to do that due to the demands of your job, ask your employer to provide resources to protect your body from strain, overuse, and injuries.
Some workplace resources that you may want to request include floor mats that provide support and flexible workstations that allow you to raise and lower the flat surface. If your employer doesn’t want to provide accommodations for your safety, consider purchasing your own floor mat to soften the ground in your space.
You can also provide more cushioning by adding inserts or orthotics to your shoes. Some shoes are also more supportive than others, so choose your work shoes with care.
Compression socks or stockings apply gentle pressure to the calves and feet to encourage healthy blood circulation in the lower body. If you’re on your feet much of the day, they can help your legs fight fatigue while improving blood flow from your feet back up to your heart.
There are compression stockings that go up to your knee or thigh as well as short compression socks that stop at the ankle. You may also select compression sleeves that hug between the knee and ankle with no foot coverage. You should select the compression garments that work well for the type of footwear you wear to work, as well as your personal preference for comfort.
If you don’t have any diagnosed health problems that require more intense compression therapy, light compression is adequate. You will benefit from slight continuous pressure on your legs and feet without feeling like your feet are squeezed too tight during the day. If you do believe you’re experiencing circulation problems, then talk to a medical professional to determine the right amount of pressure on your legs.
Pamper Your Feet Between Shifts
What you do at home to care for your feet is just as important as how you treat them at work. Your feet hold you up and support a wide variety of motions that you move through daily. They deserve a little pampering!
How can you give your feet the TLC they deserve while at home? We have some ideas to get you started:
If you think you don’t have time to pamper your feet, think of ways to work this into your daily routine. For instance, you may buy a textured foot massager that sits on the floor and run your feet over it while watching television or working in your office. You can also buy gift certificates for pedicures and commit to redeeming them before they expire.
Make the time to care for your feet, and they will reward you with greater comfort and health on a daily basis.
Follow All Safety Protocol
Safety guidelines and rules are created to keep you safe. Workplace injuries are often related to rules that weren’t followed for one reason or another. Even if you notice no one around you is following a certain rule that could cause an injury to your feet or another body part, don’t participate in the oversight.
Make sure you follow guidelines so that you’re fully protected if you do injure yourself on the job. Don’t give an employer room to argue that the accident was your fault because you didn’t follow safety protocol. Protect yourself no matter what, and that includes circumstances where members of management may ask you to ignore the rules for their convenience.
If you aren’t sure what the safety protocols are for your position, ask a member of management. Most employers now have safety guidelines in place.
Listen to Your Body
If you feel strain in your feet, ankles, or calves, stop what you’re doing immediately. If you need help lifting heavy objects or completing other tasks, go to management or ask an employee to help you out. If you’re concerned about the safety and security of your feet for any reason, don’t push on because you want to get the job done.
Many injuries come with no warning signs, but that’s not always the case. You may feel that you’re stressing or overusing your feet prior to a serious injury occurring. It’s always best to stop and give your feet the care they need instead of suffering an injury that is more costly.
Some signs of wear and tear on your feet include continuous blisters, aches, pain, muscle spasms, and hard spots on the skin. If you notice the arches of your feet flattening, that is another serious problem that sometimes occurs after months or years of excessive standing on concrete and other unforgiving flooring types. You should see a doctor if you believe flat feet are becoming an issue for you.
Adjust Your Work Duties
If you can’t avoid overuse injuries on the job, you might consider switching to a new role or looking for a new job. That sounds harsh, but it’s what some workers must do to protect their health. If your job requires hours of standing on hard surfaces or movements that damage your feet with time, ask your employer to either provide resources to protect your feet or allow you to shift into a new role.