Taking Care of Your Feet on the Job
The human foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 ligaments and tendons, 19 muscles, and over 250,000 sweat glands, making them compact powerhouses, keeping you moving! By age 50, the average American will have spent approximately 75,000-115,000 miles on their feet. For beauty and fitness professionals who spend an average of 8-10 hours on their feet daily, caring for your feet is essential to not only your overall health, but your livelihood, too! August 17 marks National I ❤️ My Feet Day. While for many of you, caring for other people’s feet is part of your job criteria, your own feet deserve attention, care, and pampering, too!
Your Feet Are a Valuable Tool
Your feet are one of your most vital tools, because beauty and fitness professionals spend most of their workday using them. Standing and moving through a salon, barbershop, or spa, you may not notice how much time you spend on your feet until you sit down. Using your feet to perform asanas, lunges, or to lift weights makes your feet one of your most valuable pieces of equipment. Because your feet are one of your most vital assets, prevention of long-term foot health problems is an investment in your career longevity.
Be Proactive About Foot Health
Over 77% of Americans experience foot problems, but only 1/3 of people who experience foot pain seek out medical care. For beauty and fitness professionals, there’s an elevated risk for lower-limb muscle fatigue, which shows up in aching joints and sore feet. Other common foot issues include foot fatigue, blisters, bunions, corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, and athlete’s foot or other fungal infections. Take a proactive approach to foot health by checking your feet after work every day. Look for blisters, cuts, cracked skin, sores, swelling, and areas that are red, warm, or tender to touch. Regular pedicures help prevent ingrown toenails and fungal infections, so don’t forget to care for yourself as attentively as you’d care for your clients!
Give Your Feet a Break
The American Podiatric Medical Association (AMPA) recommends frequent breaks and shifting positions to help alleviate foot issues for professionals who spend their workday standing. Working breaks into a busy schedule can be challenging—but not impossible! It’s vital to make workplace adjustments to ensure career longevity. Remember, even little tweaks to your workflow can add up to big results.
your posture. AMPA professionals recommend a standing position where back
and shoulders are aligned, core muscles are engaged, and knees are slightly
- Use both
feet to support your weight. Workers who stand for long periods of time
(such as stylists, barbers, and massage therapists) tend to lean to one side.
Over time, this can cause pinched nerves.
relief positions. Sit down between clients or while a service
is processing. Try simple
yoga positions, lunges, or a split-stance position to give
your feet a break.
your feet when you sit down to reduce swelling.
- Stretching and gentle massage improve circulation.
- Reflexology can help
you identify basic pressure points on the foot that you can massage during a
break that may relieve pain and prevent foot fatigue.
Equip Your Workspace for Foot Health
Creating an ergonomic workspace means designing your work area to fit your body, rather than your workspace dictating how you position yourself. An ergonomic work area reduces discomfort and minimizes the risk of injury. For stylists and barbers, one of the best investments you can make is a cutting stool. These allow you to perform your work from a sitting position, reducing the daily pressure on your feet. For stylists, barbers, massage therapists, and even fitness professionals, shock-absorbing anti-fatigue rubber mats can help relieve foot fatigue. Fitness professionals can also take steps to ensure that both their work areas and work practices incorporate ergonomics, to ensure ongoing foot health.
If the Shoe Fits…
A study published by the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research revealed that 63-72% of the study’s participants wore shoes that didn’t accommodate either the width or length of their shoes. That means that there’s a high probability that most of your shoes aren’t suited for 8-10 hours of standing and working! Both the AMPA and the National Cosmetology Association recommend wearing shoes with heels of less than 2 inches. Higher heels increase pressure on the ball of the foot, and cause the Achilles tendon to shorten. Likewise, flats aren’t ideal for fitness or beauty professionals either, due to limited arch support. These shoe “side effects” lead to chronic foot pain and ongoing foot disorders. For stylists, barbers, massage therapists, and spa professionals, seek out footwear carrying the AMPA Seal of Approval. Some recommended footwear brands to keep your feet healthy include Dansko, Sanita, Clarks, and Alegria.
Choosing the right footwear relieves pressure on the joints and muscles and can minimize or prevent common foot ailments like blisters, corns, calluses, bunions, and ingrown toenails. Look for work shoes with shock-absorbing pads and skid-resistant soles. Insoles and orthotic devices can also improve foot health and relieve knee and lower back pain or symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Experts additionally recommend rotating shoes to prevent bacteria build-up and wearing clean, dry, moisture-wicking socks.
Finally, if there’s a sport or activity you participate in more than twice a week, it’s important to have the right shoes for that activity. For fitness professionals, this might mean bringing a change of shoes to work (such as running shoes or high-performance sport shoes) to make sure that you’ve got the right gear to protect your feet while working with clients.
How does your foot health affect your performance? What are your tips for taking care of your feet on the job? Which shoes help you fight foot fatigue? “Step” into our social media!
Header Image: Yeko Photo Studio via Bigstock
Footprint icon by Icons8
Health Book icon by Icons8
Pedicure icon by Icons8
Trainers icon by Icons8
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