The world’s most exciting jobs are the ones that keep you on your toes (sometimes, literally). If you’re a healthcare professional, you have a high-pacedjob, and you’re most likely on your feet all day. This can take one of the most exciting jobs in the world and turn it into one of the most painful.
As a healthcare professional, you deeply understand the importance of prevention and treatment, no matter the condition (including swollen feet).
We hear about nurses’ feet hurting all the time, so we’ve come up with some tips on preventing swollen feet and—if it’s too late for that—how to get some relief. Plus, we’ll remind you of some dangers of spending long periods on your toes without a break.
What causes swollen feet?
Sore feet after a 12-hour shift should come as no surprise, but it’s a situation best avoided at all costs. So first things first: Whether you’re a nurse who feels like you’re walking on pins and needles or a doctor with a stiff back, we’re here to remind you of the importance of self-care. The truth is, you give the best care to others when you care for yourself first. Always pay attention to what’s going on in your body, no matter how long or grueling your shift.
You probably already know that one of the biggest culprits of swollen feet is standing all day. If you’re a medical professional, that’s likely the reason you have them. But, here are some of the other top reasons that may not immediately come to mind and could be adding to the problem:
- Consuming lots of salt and other foods that cause swelling in the feet
- Being pregnant
- Having a larger body type
- Taking certain meds (common ones are blood pressure medicine, birth control pills, steroids and psychiatric meds like antidepressants)
What do swollen feet mean?
Swollen feet can signify a wide range of serious conditions and illnesses, but they don’t have to cause alarm, especially if you’re on your feet all day. That said, if your swelling never seems to go down, check with a medical professional—yes, even if you are a medical professional (because a second opinion never hurts). The following are some of the riskier medical conditions associated with swollen feet:
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
- A localized injury
- Blood clots
The risks of standing all day long
Most of us spend some time standing during the day no matter our line of work, but people in certain roles like healthcare professions may spend too much time upright. Here are a few of the risks of standing for too long:
- Sore feet
- Varicose veins
- Tiredness/muscle fatigue
- Lower back, neck and shoulder pain
So why do feet hurt after standing all day? Standing on your feet is hard work and can lead to lowered blood flow and discomfort, especially when you’re in the same position all day. Blood starts to collect in the legs and feet, and this can cause inflammation. You may find that your legs stiffen or lock up.
How to prevent swollen feet as a healthcare worker
If you work in healthcare, you may want to consider adding a few new items to your wardrobe (and your overall foot care routine) to help prevent swollen feet:
- Wear good shoes: Try to find comfortable shoes with a cushioned sole and replace them every six months. This may be an expensive habit, but it’s worth it. Make sure that your shoes have supportive insoles, or add your own.
- Wear compression socks: Compression socks keep blood moving, and you can even upgrade other parts of your wardrobe to help things flow. Try a pair of compression scrubs, for example.
- Try to control aggravating factors: Quit smoking and stay away from salty foods. Be mindful of medications that you take that could be contributing.
Keep your toenails short: Getting a regular pedicure isn’t necessarily a measure to prevent swollen feet, but keeping your toenails short is a great (and simple!) tip for staying comfortable. Keeping your nails short helps you avoid bruised, broken and ingrown nails, which would only exacerbate the pain of swollen feet.
How to treat swollen feet
You do your very best to prevent swollen feet, but you still have them. It happens to the best of us. Here are some common ways you can treat this condition:
- Soak your feet: If you have swollen feet after work, turn to your home spa for help. Soak your feet in Epsom salt mixed in hot water to decrease swelling and improve blood flow. Add in a few drops of essential oils for an even more relaxing experience.
- Stretch: Stretch your back and neck when you have a break or finish your shift, and as a preventative measure, try to keep your arms and legs limber and in motion throughout the day.
- Submerge your feet in hot and cold water: Soaking your feet in hot water, followed by cold water, can help bring down swelling and massage tissue. We know that dipping your feet in cold water isn’t the most relaxing post-work ritual, but it does help.
- Moisturize: When you moisturize, think of giving yourself a little massage or an express pedicure. Even if your feet aren’t swollen, keeping them moisturized can increase your comfort on the job.
- Wear slippers: How to relieve leg pain from standing all day? Step into some luxuriously soft slippers after getting home from a long shift. It’s like a long, loving hug for your feet.
Compression scrubs for healthcare professionals who are on the go all day? Yes, we thought of that. Remember, we always have your back and with our moisture-wicking performance socks for men and women, we also have your feet, too.