Sole Survivor

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They are your sole supporters, day in and day out. They are constantly under stress as you go about your life. No matter what you do, they work for you the whole day. Many of us rarely give them a second thought, until they cause us pain.

Even though our feet are one of the most utilized parts of the human body, people are often unaware of the damage they can cause to them on a daily basis. As we go about our normal lives, many things affect the condition of our feet both on and off the job. There is no doubt that in any workplace, under any working conditions, there are factors that contribute to foot problems. For years, workers have complained about pain in their back, legs and knees but may not associate the pain with problems concerning their feet. Here are a few common problems in the workplace and steps you can take to prevent foot injuries.

Dressing right for work is similar to dressing right for sports, a professional football player wouldn’t take the field wearing dress shoes. Wearing the right shoes will help you do a better job; and do it more safely. The first thing to think about is the type of foot protection you are going to need. Construction work requires you to walk, stand, bend, stoop and climb; so it is important that you wear sturdy, comfortable footwear. Leather shoes and boots provide the best protection. Tennis shoes, sandals and flip-flops are not acceptable footwear on a construction site. Remember, your feet and toes are made up of many small bones, and just one object dropped on your foot can cause a serious, painful injury.

Another potential injury can occur by stepping on a nail or other sharp object. A protruding nail can puncture the top, side or sole of your shoe quickly if you’re not careful. Safety boots come equipped with steel toes, heavy duty leather uppers and steel shanks to help prevent puncture wounds. Your footwear should fit your feet snugly and give your ankles adequate support. Be sure to always lace and tie them properly. Good support will help prevent you from turning or twisting an ankle while moving around the job site.

Aching, tired feet are common among workers who spend most of their time standing in a fixed position. An ergonomic assessment can properly design the work area allowing workers room to change body position, creating adjustable work surfaces for tall or short workers, or making simple adjustments such as installing floor mats or a footrest enabling a worker to shift weight from one foot to another reducing stress on the lower legs and feet. Proper footwear with thick insulating soles and shock absorbing insoles can help to reduce foot fatigue.

Many sprains, breaks and punctures can be prevented simply by keeping the workplace clean. All walkways should be well lit and clear of debris such as sharp objects, tools, hoses, water or liquids. Use color contrast to improve vision on stairs and ramps to reduce tripping and falling.

Weather conditions can greatly affect the feet. Working in a hot and humid environment can cause feet to sweat and cause fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Wash the feet daily and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes. Wear clean socks daily and rotate shoes allowing them time to air out. Cold weather requires foot protection and proper footwear should be selected for specific working conditions.

Even office workers suffer from foot problems. Unfortunately being fashionable sometimes seems more important than foot comfort. High heels, Pointed toe shoes, even ballet flats can cause severely aching feet, blisters, calluses, bunions, and in worse cases malformation of toes, fallen arches and arthritis. When shoe shopping, for any type of shoe, both feet should be measured in three ways: toe to heel, ball of foot to heel and width. Shop in the afternoon or evening when feet are usually at their largest and wear the same type of sock you would normally wear with that type of shoe to ensure proper fit.

Many people are unaware of the fact that proper biomechanics of the body can significantly reduce injury and pain. Your feet are the foundation of your body, supporting your spine and pelvic structure. Your feet also affect your knees, hips and back. Improper alignment of the feet can cause misalignment and pain anywhere from your ankles to your neck. Some people just naturally have fallen arches, known as ankle pronation, causing abnormal pressure on the arches, toes and ankles. This can cause painful plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Ankle pronation can cause abnormal rotation of the knee, hip and even pelvis, which causes stress to those joints. Regular chiropractic adjustments will improve alignment and custom orthotics may significantly reduce pain.

If you are interested in additional information on workplace health and wellness, please contact; Michelle Morgan at Shamokin Dam Health Center

570-743-1590 or mmorgan@shamokindamhealthcenter.com