If you’ve been counting down the hours at work until you can get home, take off your work boots, put your feet up and breathe that sigh of relief as you sink deep into your chair – this one’s for you.
We see a lot of tradies who start their days on the right foot, but as the day goes on, their feet and legs feel more and more heavy, tired, stiff and achy. So why does this keep happening and what can you do to break the cycle and get relief? To promote tradie’s health month this August, we’ve shared the top five reasons for these end-of-day aches that our podiatrists see and treat every day and what you can do today to help get some relief.
1. You’re Performing The Same Activity On Tough Surfaces, All Day Long
Any gym class attendee will tell you that when you perform the same movements and the same activities for long enough, your muscles will tire. Except you don’t have to be at a gym to feel the effects – many tradies feel this from standing all day, going up and down stairs and ladders, moving up and down from a kneeling position, constantly walking with heavy objects or large tool belts strapped to them – you name it.
Adding fuel to the fire, performing these activities on hard surfaces like those in construction or renovation sites sends larger forces with more impact through your bones and joints, adding to those aches and niggles. Softer surfaces offer more cushioning and shock absorption, softening the impact.
Do today: Incorporate good foot and leg stretches into your day, multiple times a day, to help care for your overworked muscles. While you can’t change the floor you work on, if you’re in the same spot all day long then you can improve the cushioning in your work boots or if possible, use a mat when standing in the same spot for long periods.
2. Gravity Is Taking A Toll On Your Veins (Swelling)
When blood circulates down from the heart and to your feet and legs, it’s your veins that are responsible for moving that blood up your legs against gravity. When you’re on your feet all day, your veins may struggle, and you may notice spider veins, varicose veins, or commonly some swelling. The swelling can then leave your legs feeling heavy, achy and tired.
Do today: Try compression socks or stockings to help prevent swelling and promote healthy blood flow in your feet or legs, and stretch regularly throughout your workday. If you’re not sure if compression gear is right for you or what to use, speak with your podiatrist.
3. Your Foot Posture Is Making You Work Harder
With every step we take, we activate and engage countless muscles to perform that action. Certain foot postures, like flat feet or even high arches, can mean that our muscles must work even harder with every step – working for longer periods to lower our feet closer to the ground, and then bring them back up as we lift our feet off the ground to take the next step. While it may seem like just a split second of extra work on the outside, when it happens step after step and day after day, it all adds up.
Do today: Book in for a biomechanical assessment with your podiatrist. They’ll examine not just your foot posture but the way that all your muscles, ligaments and joints are working together during each step, identify areas where you’re working harder than you should be, and help correct any problems.
4. Your Work Boots Aren’t Giving You The Right Support
Your work boots become the ground you walk on during the day. Good work boots should promote healthy movement, give you the right support in the right places, help prevent slips and falls, help prevent problems like corns and blisters, support and stabilise your ankles, help prevent muscle overuse – all while protecting your feet from painful accidents.
Some of our patients don’t have the right work boots for their feet – whether it’s their weight, their size or their style. For others, they had fantastic boots that were doing their job well at the beginning – but it has been a few years and their shoes have worn down and lost important integrity. This means that their feet and legs are having to work harder than they used to, leading to those end-of-day aches.
Do today: Check your work boots. How old are they? Do they still feel firm and supportive? What does the sole look like – is it worn down? How do they really feel? Replace your work boots or if you’re unsure if they’re right for you, come in and see your podiatrist and read our safety boot selection guide here.
5. You’re Not Getting Help When You Feel You Need It
Many people tend to wait until their pain and discomfort become unbearable and unignorable before they seek help, hoping that their pain will go away on its own. The reality is that in many cases, especially with muscle overuse, mild niggles and aches are your first sign that something is wrong. These small discomforts never happen for no reason – it’s your body telling you that something isn’t working right, and if you don’t do anything about it or make changes, the problem will keep getting worse until serious damage occurs – and brings with it significant pain and a far longer recovery.
Do today: If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort at work, even if it’s mild but ongoing, get help now. Book that appointment with your podiatrist. Treat the problem before it becomes full-blown and costs you much more frustration, time and money.
Importantly, stay kind to your body. It’s the only thing that’s going to get you through all the years – both while you’re working and far beyond that too. Your body goes through a lot of natural changes as we age and it’s important to keep looking after it – so it can look after you.
Ready to book in with your My FootDr podiatrist? Call us on 1800 FOOTDR or book your appointment online here. You can find your nearest My FootDr podiatry centre here.