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How to Keep Your Feet Healthy on the Job
If you’re like many massage therapists, you spend all day focusing on the fitness and care of your clients. Sometimes your own self-care can slip your mind—especially when it comes to your feet. Tired, sore or swollen feet make a long day feel even longer. Maintain your endurance by following a few simple tips:
Check your shoes
You know how important biomechanics are for your clients. Worn-out, unsupportive, ill-fitting shoes are bad for you, too, and can contribute to foot pain and fatigue.Look for shoes with proper arch support, which helps distribute weight evenly when you’re standing all day.
When you’re in a session, plant your feet firmly on the floor and distribute your weight evenly through both feet. Standing on the balls of your feet for prolonged periods of time can aggravate foot pain.
How about the floors?
Hard floors pose additional challenges to feet and ankles when you’re standing all day. Place a supportive mat or rug under you to cushion the area and reduce the impact on your lower legs.
Take time to stretch
Toe stretches between sessions can go a long way toward maintaining foot flexibility and reducing stress. You can do these quick stretches while sitting:
- Toe curls: With your bare feet resting on a towel on the floor, bunch up the towel by curling your toes. Hold this curled position for three to five seconds. Repeat 10 times (one set). Do up to three sets during the day.
- Toe flexion/extension: With bare feet, gently grasp your right toes and curl, then straighten them. Hold each position for three to five seconds. Repeat with left foot. Do 10 times (one set), up to three sets per day.
- Toe raises: Sit with your knees at a right angle to the floor with feet flat. Raise your toes only, keeping heels on the floor, and hold. Repeat 10 times (one set), up to three sets per day.
It sounds simple, and it is. Even brief periods of sitting can help keep foot pain at bay. While you’re seated, use some of your own massage techniques on your feet. Use your thumb to gently put pressure on sore areas, especially the plantar fascia cord, which runs from your arch through the ball of your foot and into your heel.
David Garras, M.D., is an orthopaedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in Chicago, Illinois. He specializes in foot and ankle surgery with an emphasis on total ankle replacement, work and sports injuries, arthroscopic techniques, deformity correction, reconstructive surgery and fracture care. He’s also a member of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, which maintains the FootCareMD.org patient-education website.