Your foot is a masterpiece in design, a complex part of the body containing 26 bones (25% of all bones in your body are located in your feet), 33 joints, 112 ligaments and an intricate network of blood vessels, tendons and nerves.
There are many causes of foot injuries in the workplace, in general and in training situations. Other conditions such as calluses, ingrown toenails or simply tired feet that are common among workers and athletes and can have serious consequences for foot health. They cause discomfort, pain and fatigue and can lead to further injuries affecting the muscles and joints.
Foot care plays a vital role in a healthy foot and important points include; washing feet daily with soap, rinse thoroughly and dry, especially between the toes. Wear clean socks or stockings and change them daily. During your daily routines you exert hundreds of tonnes of pressure onto your feet, and the padding around your heal and arches of your feet act as shock absorbers to reduce the impact that occurs with every step.
A healthy lifestyle can have significant impacts on foot health. Resistance training can improve posture, strengthen bones and enables easier performance of tasks and aerobic activities assist to maintain good fitness levels and control bodyweight which can reduce the loads exerted on your feet. A healthy diet also goes hand in hand with a consistent training routine which contributes by increasing circulation and mental awareness.
Some work-related factors can lead to foot problems, especially jobs that require long periods of standing. Standing for hour everyday not only fatigues the feet but can also cause permanent damage. The type of flooring used in the workplace has an important influence on comfort, especially on tender feet. Hard, unyielding floors like concrete are the least comfortable surfaces to work on. Working on a hard floor has the impact of a hammer, pounding the heel at every step and the importance of correct fitting, comfortable appropriate footwear cannot be overstated.
Footwear that fits poorly or is in need of repair also contributes heavily to foot discomfort. Among teachers and workers in clerical occupations that belong to "safe" jobs, foot injuries account for from 15 – 20% of all disabling injuries (Canadian Centre OH&S). The average person walks 184,000km in their lifetime which is approximately 5 times around the world, so it is critical to care for your feet.
A good workplace design includes varied tasks requiring changes in body positions that utilise different muscles. Carrying out different tasks on shift would shorten the time spent standing and rest breaks also assist to alleviate foot problems and more frequent short breaks are preferable to fewer long breaks.
Standing still requires considerable muscular effort, but does not allow for the alternate contracting and relaxing of muscles of the feet and legs. One intervention that can be done frequently on the job is alternately contracting and relaxing the calf muscles, and flex and straighten ankles and knees, as well as stretching the calves, hamstrings and quadriceps during breaks.
If you require further information, our trainers are available at the ANU Sport to discuss your individual training needs at any time.