It’s the most wonderful time of the year. (At least for some)
This article is for those who will now be going back to school, namely, our educators. It’s time to educate themselves about their feet.
Standing for long periods or generally being on your feet more can cause issues for many, and there are simple considerations to keep in mind if you wish to have a more comfortable school year.
Even if you do not have foot issues, they can develop with the extra stresses put on them by constant use. This is even more of an issue if going back to school represents a significant increase of stress on the feet from your usual routine, which can include extended periods of standing.
As always, supporting the foot is the most helpful thing you can do to prevent issues. The foot is designed to flatten when weight-bearing. The weight of your body strains the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, both while walking and just standing around. If we can help the body accommodate these stresses, we can reduce possible issues.
First, a supportive and well-fitting shoe with a well-structured upper, good control of the heels, an internal sock liner designed to support your arches and a good firm shank with a cushioned sole. If wearing dress shoes, wear low heels because the higher the heel, the more stress will be placed on the ball of the foot. Avoid high-heeled shoes or shoes that are very soft and flexible.
If you prefer sandals while the warm weather lasts, look for sandals with a good, contoured sole, like a Birkenstock or Vionic. Manufacturers are getting better with designs, so you can still get the flip-flop look with better support for the arches.
People generally tend to look to fashion rather than function when looking for footwear, and often they will suffer the consequences of their choices.
Your health care provider may recommend custom orthotics if you already have issues. A Canadian Certified Pedorthist can provide these and educate you about possible causes for your issues. They can also help you find what styles and features to look for in your footwear to help with pain and prevent issues from arising in the future.
Circulation is another important consideration if standing or sitting for long periods. Gravity, as it is, when you’re standing or even sitting for long periods, wants to pool the blood in the lower limbs. It’s the action of your leg muscles that help your veins return the blood to the heart. Long-term damage can be done to the veins in your lower extremities if you spend lots of time sitting or standing. Blood pooling can lead to varicose veins and tired feelings of leg muscles. There is an easy solution to this as well. Take breaks throughout the day to keep your legs moving by walking around, and/or compression stockings can be very helpful. They are beneficial because they prevent this pooling amplifying the muscle activity in the legs and gently aid the veins in returning the blood to the heart.
Prepare by educating yourself about your feet and your legs. Problems can be dealt with if you have the proper knowledge. With careful choice and knowledge, it can help you stay in your chosen profession longer without pain and discomfort.
Educators, educate yourselves or discuss your concerns with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. You can find one at https://www.pedorthic.ca/.
Jaimie McVean, C. Ped (C)