In the Office

In the Office

Common problems for office workers
Our feet bear an enormous burden of daily living. Often we think working in an office exempts us from injuries to our feet and lower limbs and overlook the risks of unsupportive footwear.

However our feet can be injured even during simple, day-to-day activities such as walking through the
office.

Common foot problems include:

  • Corns and calluses
  • Pain in your feet
  • Skin or nail problems – ingrown toenails, blisters
  • Lumps or bumps, bunions or misshapen toes

Risk factors
High heels
Regular high heel wearers place more pressure on the balls of their feet and walk less efficiently than wearers of flat shoes. The effect of wearing high heels for more than 40 hours per week shortens your calf muscle and actually changes your stride even when the heels are off.

High heels contribute to many discomforts including:

- Corns and calluses
- Bunions
- Hammer toes
- Nerve and ligament damage resulting from the huge amount of pressure placed on the balls of your feet.

These irritations can all lead to more serious issues as you alter your walking style to compensate for painful injury, resulting in more serious health issues with the knees, hips and spine.
Unsupportive footwear
Shoes that are unsupportive or lack appropriate protection for workplace conditions.

How to reduce your risk
While there’s no such thing as a “perfect” shoe, you can certainly make sensible choices about the footwear you buy – especially if you will be spending a lot of time in them at work. When buying new shoes, keep the following in mind:

Size
Ensure the shoe is long enough. There should be about 2cm from the longest toe to the end of the shoe.

Shape
Watch the shape of the shoe’s toe. Your toes don’t naturally all point together and putting them into a pointy-toed shoe forces them into this position. Clenched toes can cause rubbing, leading to blisters, corn, and calluses. Broad-toed shoes allow the toes more room and can help prevent pressure injuries.

Heels
An everyday shoe should have a heel lower than 2cm. Avoid shoes with a heel higher than 4cm to avoid ankle injuries or knee and back strain. Try to take a break without the shoe during the day to stretch your calves and wiggle your toes.

Material

  • Uppers:
    Natural fibres allow the foot to breathe. Leather is generally preferred for shoe uppers. Synthetic fibres can promote fungal infections and foot odour because of excessive moisture trapped in the shoe.
  • Soles:
    Synthetic or rubber soles are best because they are generally more durable, shock absorbent, and provide better grip.
  • Security:
    Shoes should be secured on the feet with laces, straps, or buckles. Avoid backless shoes – when there is nothing at the back of the shoe it forces your toes to claw to maintain hold of the shoe.

What can a podiatrist do for you?
Podiatrists are highly-skilled health professionals trained to help prevent, diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate medical and surgical conditions of the feet. Podiatrists currently complete a Bachelor of Podiatry and are continually upgrading their skills and knowledge through Continued Professional Development (CPD).

Podiatric treatment for office workers can include:
Managing corns and calluses
Over-the-counter remedies, such as corn paint
or plasters, generally only treat the symptoms not the underlying problem. We will not only recommend ways to relieve pain and get rid of corns and calluses, but can also help with isolating the cause and preventing the problem from recurring.

Finding appropriate footwear
Wearing correct footwear is critical to healthy feet. We can evaluate your shoes to check that they are suitable for your daily use and can offer advice on changes that may make the world of difference to any pain or discomfort you are experiencing. We provide expert advice to ensure your maximum comfort at work.

Fitting custom orthotics
We can also fit you with custom orthotics to provide extra support and reduce muscle, tendon and ligament strain. Orthotics are placed inside shoes to adjust imbalances and restore the natural movement of your feet.

Orthotics are available for high heels and can be fitted to provide support, to adjust the balance of the shoe and thereby redistribute your weight over the whole foot instead of just to the front.

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