To all the Pharmacists and Pharmacy technicians out there – Thank you for all of your hard work leading up to and during this lockdown! At Resonance Podiatry, we know how busy you are and applaud you for that. We also know that Sore Feet Don’t Stop, especially when you are busy!
In the day to day work life of a pharmacist, I know you would be filling prescriptions, answering phone calls, helping customers find the right medication for their concern, educating your patients, and continuously trying to get back to the last job you started. You are professional multitaskers. And all these tasks, including running circles around the pharmacy, are done on your feet. With the current demand and pressure even higher, I can imagine your days are longer and there are more and more trips back and forth to wash your hands and sanitise!
My mother was a pharmacist, and she worked at a very busy pharmacy for several years. She would often work 12-14 hour days and would come home complaining of sore feet. It was bliss for her to get home and take off her shoes and put her feet up. I can understand and appreciate the hard work you do, and how much of a toll this line of work can take on your body and your feet – it can be exhausting!
As a result of spending so much time on your feet, it can be expected that your feet will get sore and achy. And unfortunately, there isn’t a pill for that! So here’s a prescription for you, to help keep your feet happy and comfortable during this time:
This is one of the more important items to focus on. Because you are standing for most of your workday, make sure that your shoes are comfortable and supportive.
This starts with the shoe being the right shape for your feet. It should be wide enough, especially across the forefoot, as this is usually the widest part of the foot. It should also be long enough, and in most cases, at least a thumb width longer than your longest toe. Having this extra room in your shoes will allow for swelling of your feet, as this is bound to happen by the end of your shift if you are standing all day. The consequences of shoes that are too tight, too small, or don’t fit properly is pressure on your metatarsal joints that can cause pain or rubbing, symptoms or aggravation of a neuroma, pressure on your toenails and the risk of causing them to ingrow or thicken, and the risk of developing corns and callous on or in between your toes.
Next, the shoe should have appropriate structure and support. I would recommend avoiding shoes that are too soft and flexible. Unfortunately, in jobs where you remain standing, these types of shoes are more likely to compress and collapse and will offer no support to your feet. The significance of this, is once your foot position is compromised your posture is also affected, and this can cause your knees, hips, and back to be in a poor position. Look for a shoe that has a firm heel counter to hold your foot in place and has a stable base. This means you should not be able to bend your shoe in half or wring it out like a wet t-shirt. This torsional stability in the shoe can help with your foot posture when standing, and the shoe will have a longer life span as it is less resistant to compression and wearing out.
So, what kind of magical, glass-slipper-of-a-shoe does this look like? Your best answer is a sports trainer or running shoe. The added benefit of running shoes is that they will include cushioning as it is essential for shock absorption. They also have different types of added support in dual density midsoles, and most shoes are lightweight meaning less burden for your foot and leg muscles – heavy shoes can make these muscles fatigue faster! Although running shoes may not look as professional as leather court shoes, the benefits of comfort may outweigh the change to your appearance, and there are often sleek options available in dark or neutral colours as well as black leather models. One size doesn’t fit all, so if you have any questions, chat with us or a running shoe shop for advice – both should be available by phone or email, and running shoe retailers are currently able to post shoes to you.
Socks can often be taken for granted but having a good pair of socks can make a big difference. Avoid socks that will hold moisture against your skin. A synthetic or wool blend will help keep the moisture away and reduce the risk of fungal manifestations on the skin and nails. Think of it this way – if you went out for a run in the rain, would you rather be wearing a cotton shirt or a dry-fit top? Apply this same logic to your feet with socks. A little extra padding in socks can also go a long way. Running shoe retailers will also have a great supply of sock choices, and they are worth the investment!
Exercising and stretching at work –
To add another task to your long to-do list, there are some stretches and exercises you can do at work to keep your feet and legs comfortable. If standing for long periods, wiggling and scrunching your toes, or rising up and down onto your toes will activate the muscles in your legs and help with venous blood flow. Doing simple range of motion exercises can also help with waking up your muscles and circulation – for example, rotating your foot and ankle in clockwise and counter-clockwise circles; leg swings in both front-to-back and side-to-side movements can also help wake up joints that become stiff or fatigued from long hours of standing. A simple calf stretch for 20-30 seconds against a wall or a counter top can be a nice stretch for your posterior chain. These are quick and simple movements that may be helpful to do each hour, or that you may be able to do when you are doing stationary tasks. These can be seen and demonstrated here by Resonance Podiatrist Britt….
Being mindful of your posture is also important for standing occupations. Simple things to be aware of include keeping your core engaged, shoulders back to prevent slouching, and stand tall through the neck and spine. Visualise you are externally rotating your thighs or quadriceps muscles and engaging and lifting your foot arches. As soon as your next prescription comes in or the phone rings, you may forget about your posture, but you can revisit this checklist throughout the day. Occupational therapists can also give you great advice on making your surroundings more conducive to prevent work-related pain.
Give your feet a rest
This may be easier said than done, but finding time during the day to get off your feet may reduce your risk of pain or injury. You may have to be creative and you may only have time for short bursts off your feet between tasks and getting interrupted. However, this could be having a stool to sit on next to the phone or computer; having a rubber mat to stand on when consulting patients; or having a kneeling chair at the countertop where you are counting out pills. Again, an occupational therapist may be able to provide other ideas to reduce pain and strain to your feet, legs, back and shoulders at work.
At home footcare
Now that you are at home, take your shoes off and relax! Even better, give yourself an epsom salt foot soak – just what you need after a long day on your feet. For other general footcare tips regarding reducing callous and trimming nails, read this great post by Resonance Podiatrist Bronwyn.
If your feet are sore or tender after a long day, there are several foot exercises that you can do for relief. Examples of these include rolling your arch over a tennis ball or frozen water bottle, or even a spare pestle if you have one at home! Picking up marbles with your toes and moving them from one pile to the next – you could even try placing them in empty pill bottles! A few other helpful foot exercises can be seen here and demonstrated by Resonance Podiatrist Britt. Not only will these exercises give you some relief from sore feet, but they will help keep your feet strong and less likely to suffer pain and injury.
If you have any new foot or ankle issues that arise, or have been bothering you for some time, we are available to help with any questions you may have. We can do Telehealth Video Consultation appointments and are available by phone or email. Don’t hesitate to contact us, we want to help keep you on your feet. 😊
Thank you again to our pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for being stand out pill-ers of society during this COVID-19 lockdown! Keep wearing that white lab coat as your superhero cape – We appreciate you!
Written by Resonance Podiatrist Megan McPherson