On your feet all day? Try this.
A while ago I was asked to discuss this topic by one of our clinic’s attendees in London. He had a job that required staying on his feet all day and he had lots of problems due to such overloading. I wasn’t surprised to hear about his problems related to this circumstance. It’s not just about feet, it’s also about knees, hips and low back, but in this article we’ll focus on addressing issues related to feet.
It is obvious that staying on your feet for long hours has negative consequences. It is nothing new. Everybody is aware of this. So I will not talk about that, but instead I want to go straight to the solution and show you how to reduce, or completely avoid, the negative effects associated with being on your feet all day.
Let’s look at this topic from the point of view of biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, psychology and mentality. We are not built to stay still or stand all day, or be on our feet all day. We are also not meant to do the opposite of that. These extremes are all unhealthy. We do better and feel better when we strive for balance.
Simple mechanics? Not so simple
On the surface it is a simple situation – a person has to spend hours on his feet and it causes all sorts of aches. From the point of view of simple mechanics, there should be no complications, after all the movement is minimal, so technically, there should be minimal issues. But from biomechanics point of view, everything is not that simple, we have to deal with the issue of body weight, where it’s located and how it is shifted. This is the sensitive issue influencing the whole situation (I described the concept of the body weight in the Pose Triathlon book).
People usually choose “the easiest” position of the body weight location – their heels – locking ankles and knees to create what’s perceived as “stability”. In reality it means immobility of their joints, tension of muscles, tendons and ligaments. It brings constant pressure to the same areas, same cartilage tissues, etc. Such “stability” starts to look very costly when you consider it from this point of view. Consequently it brings some other problems. Locking joints reduces blood flow through our extremities and causes feet to swell.
Over time this condition of the feet starts to involve our psycho-emotional and mental systems through our senses and perception. At first, feeling of constant pressure and tension in our joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments creates a mere discomfort, than some irritation in your emotional condition which later leads to bigger mood changes and reaction to surroundings. At this point we get a full complex of “I can get no satisfaction”.
Is there a solution? Yes, there is a solution and you will have to put some effort in to get it, but it will give you almost immediate results. You will experience the difference and you will feel better. A human body is incredible in its ability to recover, to heal itself. The best part – these changes will become permanent improvements that will allow you to enjoy your daily life again.
Start with basics
- Bring more awareness to your body and how you move. Pay attention to where your body weight is located, even while you’re standing. Pay attention to how you feel. Be aware of how much stiffness and fatigue of your feet irritate you, changing your psycho-emotional condition and causing you discomfort. Avoid it by anticipating it and changing your body position.
- Keep your body weight mostly on the front part of the foot, that involves your muscles instead of bones and cartilages in keeping the body position. Your muscles can handle this better.
- Develop time-position patterns most comfortable for your productive work.
- Do not stay in place as if your feet are glued to the floor. Shift your body weight and your feet constantly, from side to side, back and fourth – dance. Keep your knees slightly bent at all times. No need to squat, just don’t be rigid.
- Don’t lock your joints. Keep them slightly bent so that your body could move around as needed. Even metal towers are built with some range of movement possible.
- Let your body weight shift from one foot to the other and sometimes even from the front of the foot to the rear. It’s OK just for a short time. Shift your body weight on the side of your feet in a supinated position, on one foot or on both. This standing time can be effectively used for foot strengthening exercises.
- Do some appropriate exercises that won’t attract unnecessary attention and that do not require much space. Staying on one foot, rotate another one in its ankle joint, or do it for both ankle joints simultaneously with the body weight held on the forefoot.
Use active recovery
- Exercise your foot muscles and joints after work to recover them from physical load and psycho-emotional stress. Use strength, elasticity and flexibility exercises, work on your skill of changing support.
- Get regular massage. This is not luxury, this is healthcare. Wouldn’t you rather spend on massage than on medicine that normally has side effects that scare you just hearing the list of them on tv ads?
- Go to Physical Therapy Invest in yourself not in medication. Let professionals help you feel better. Athletes use coaches, you should use the expertise of Physical Therapists to help you to move better.