Happy Feet: Take the Pain Out of Standing All Day

NOVEMBER 16, 2017

Pharmacists' feet take a lot of abuse. We stand during the work day for hours on end and arrive home with sore, achy feet and legs.

Recently, my feet were extra sore, so I took an unscientific poll in a pharmacy Facebook group. I asked for everyone's favorite shoe for working in a pharmacy. It was a very popular post, with almost 150 replies. Of course, there was no unanimous answer, as different shoes work for different people. I had a wide range of answers, including Asics, clogs, cowboy boots, Merrell, Skechers, slippers, and Vionic. Some pharmacists said that they wear compression stockings and orthotics, while most said that they do not. I wear a variety of sneakers, but my feet are still sore. 

I spoke with Dr. Wayne Feldman, DPM, as I knew a podiatrist would be the best source for all foot-related issues. Sure enough, he came through with lots of helpful information that I wanted to share. 

He said that standing for long periods of time puts us at greater risk for certain conditions of the foot, such as plantar fasciitis, soreness, strain, and leg pain.

In terms of shoes, Dr. Feldman recommends a supportive, structured running sneaker, such as those offered by Asics and New Balance. He does not recommend lightweight sneakers, such as Nike minimalist sneakers, which are very bendable, comparing them to standing barefoot. He recommended a slight heel elevation, saying that shoes should not be too flat.

As for the orthotic debate, Dr. Feldman recommends customized orthotic inserts if the foot structure needs it. A deficiency of the foot structure, such as high arches or flat feet, would call for orthotics. Otherwise, a supportive running sneaker should suffice.
Leg supports, such as compression socks/stockings, are good for varicose veins or edema.

I asked Dr. Feldman about general foot care, and he recommends a daily moisturizer with urea because of the thicker skin on feet. He also said that it is very important to dry the feet well.

Dr. Feldman said that it is important to stretch the calf muscles, as they tend to tighten from lack of use. One of his favorite stretches is to simply stand up, bend over, and touch the floor. Another great stretch is to stand on the edge of a step on the balls of the feet and let the heels/calves drop. Walking is also very important for the feet. Dr. Feldman suggests taking breaks as time allows to walk and get the blood flowing.

Be sure to consult a podiatrist for personalized advice if these tips do not help. 

Feel free to contact me with comments related to this topic or anything else you want to share that is happening in your pharmacies. Email me at karenmichelleberger@gmail.com.

Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2001. She has worked in community pharmacies for over 16 years as a Pharmacist in Charge, staff, and floater pharmacist for a large chain. Currently, she is a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in Northern NJ. She can be reached at karenmichelleberger@gmail.com
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