Just under half of all Australians report experiencing heel, arch or foot pain at least once per week. Given that for the majority of us, our work involves some form of movement – if not spending all day on our feet, foot pain during or after work isn’t just frustrating and uncomfortable – it can impact heavily on our ability to show up to work and successfully perform our daily duties.
Whether you’re a nurse, a tradie, a retailer worker or are in the office, achy feet and legs can affect anyone. To help, our podiatrists at Point Cook are sharing why your feet get achy after a long day, and what you can start doing today to help ease the aches and keep your feet pain-free.
Taking a step is easy, right? We’ve been doing it all our lives, after all. Well – yes and no. While we innately know how to step without a second thought, the actual movement requires the activation of so many muscles and the strength and support of a large number of ligaments and tissues.
When we ask our muscles and body to keep us going step after step, day after day, while being subjected to all the forces and strain with every step, eventually they get tired. And when we over-work them or place them under a higher level of stress, like repeatedly going up and down ladders or stairs, or carrying heavy objects, they’ll ache in response.
When we throw other factors into the mix that we just mentioned above, the aches can magnify, and come on a lot faster. Your foot posture is one of these factors. The way our feet and legs are aligned heavily influences how our muscles are activated and how hard certain muscles will need to work to perform a particular movement, like taking a step. While the effect from one step may be negligible, when you’re getting up around 10,000 steps, it all cumulates and every step contributes to the achy and tired result.
You know the saying that every force has an equal and opposite reaction force? The same is true for walking. When your foot slams into the ground during a step, reaction forces from the ground are transmitted back up through the bones, muscles and tissues in your feet and legs. That’s why it can really hurt to jump down from higher up.
If you’re spending your day walking across hard surfaces, like concrete or tiles, then the ground reaction forces can put more strain through your feet and legs. Again, it’s cumulative, so compounds at the end of the day. While you can’t ask your boss to change the flooring, you can minimise the effects and better protect your feet by wearing good, supportive footwear. We’ve touched on this below.
When you’re wearing shoes, they become the new ground you walk on. They can provide you with a comfortable, cushioning and importantly shock-absorbing surface, or they can give you a firm and unforgiving surface that amplifies the effects of your foot hitting the ground with each step. Choose your shoes wisely – remember, you’re going to be spending many hours a day, many days a week in them, year after year, so choose your work shoes carefully!
Whether you’re heading towards the end of your working career, are just starting, or are well into the journey, it’s important to respond appropriately to the stage of life that you’re at – including your bones, joints and muscles. As we age, our body often doesn’t perform like it used to when it comes to absorbing shock, taking heavier loads and strains, and letting us spend hours on our feet with little consequence.
On the other hand, when we’re at the start or progressing well through our workforce journey, it’s the time where we must take good care of our feet, legs and body, so that the cumulative effects later down the track are reduced, and we save ourselves a great deal of pain and discomfort.
When you have achy feet or legs, or any foot pain, there is always a reason. If we fix that reason, then it can help tremendously in preventing your aches and keeping you feeling great on your feet. Here at Sole Motion Podiatry, our podiatrists excel in all things related to the biomechanics of your feet, meaning the way they move and function and the influence of your foot posture on this. We’ll start with a comprehensive biomechanical assessment to figure exactly what is happening and why. We’ll look at your joint and muscle strength and flexibility, your foot posture, the way you walk, do a foot pressure analysis, and show you exactly what we’re seeing and what’s happening with a video recording of your gait.
Once we know what is happening and why, we create a unique treatment plan to help you get the best results, specific to your work life. Our job is to make your job easier, with the goal of you walking without pain during the day, and to prevent your aches at the end of the day.
Often, custom foot orthotics can help adjust your foot posture and change your gait, helping you move more optimally throughout the day. Stretching and strengthening programs also yield great results for those where a weak muscle forces other muscles to work harder to compensate, or a tight muscle pulls on your bones and changes the way your feet move with every step.
Our podiatry team in Melbourne’s Point Cook are here to help. Book your appointment online here or call us on 1300-FX-FEET