If your feet hurt at the end of a workday, you are certainly not alone. More than half of all Americans have developed a foot condition on the job. Workplace foot injuries can be caused by everything from continuous standing to overexertion. The best way to reduce your risk of developing foot injuries on the job is to wear appropriate footwear.
Work shoes come in varying shapes and materials. Though different occupations require different types of work shoes, it is just as important for a receptionist to wear well-fitting shoes as it is for a construction site worker. The key to preventing injury is to find a work shoe that provides comfort, support, and safety.
What to look for in work footwear
As a rule, all work footwear should have the following qualities:
- The front of the shoes should allow for movement of the toes.
- The shoes should be comfortable.
- The shoes should grip the heel firmly.
- The shoes should not pinch the ball of the feet.
Buying safety footwear comes with its own set of unique requirements:
Construction and similar work environments: If you are working in an environment where there is a risk of falling objects, cuts, and punctures, invest in steel-toed boots that cover the full length of the toes. If necessary, you can add on foot guards, shin guards, and puncture-proof inserts.
Lab and industrial environments: If you are in a lab or industrial environment where there is a risk of chemical or solvent exposure, buy shoes with synthetic stitching made of rubber, plastic, or vinyl.
Boot soles have varying levels of traction and come in different thicknesses. Make sure to take into account the hazards of your workplace when choosing work boots.
Issues created by improper fit
Work shoes are often worn nonstop for anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day. When you spend that much time in a pair of shoes, it is essential that they fit well. Simply standing in poorly fitting shoes for that many consecutive hours can cause damage to the feet. If your job requires lifting or running, the risk of injury is even higher.
Work shoes that are too tight or narrow can lead to chronic foot and toe problems like:
- Arch pain
- Corns and calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Plantar fasciitis.
Work shoes should also breathe; when shoes are excessively airtight, there is a risk of fungal growth.
If you suffer from chronic foot pain due to your work shoes, visit a podiatrist for treatment.