Nurse holding a stethoscope

5 Ways to Fight Foot Pain for Nurses

Nurse holding a stethoscope

Nursing burnout is on the rise. In 2013, almost half a million nurses left the profession, with many citing burnout as part of the reason they left. One of the most common reasons for burnout is the physical strain that nursing puts on the body, and in particular, nurse foot pain. It's no secret that nurses spend a lot of time on their feet. One study found that nurses walk an average of three to five miles on a 12-hour shift. Overuse of the muscles and the strain put on the feet and ankles can lead to issues like plantar fasciitis, corns, bunions, heel spurs, and more.

Feel like nursing is killing your feet? There are things you can be doing to stop your feet from hurting on a long shift. By taking care of your feet, you can also help alleviate strain on your hips, back, and neck. Foot care may even help reduce feelings of burnout by helping you relax and let go of stress. So here are five easy ways you can start incorporating better foot care into your daily routine. 

5 Ways Nurses Can Care For Their Feet

Get the Right Shoes

Every experienced nurse knows that the shoes you wear on your shift matter a lot. Wearing the wrong shoes can make nurse foot pain much more severe. You may decide to wear shoes made especially for nurses, though high-quality running shoes are another great option. You'll want to make sure you are professionally fitted for your shoes. A professional shoe fitter will be able to take into account the shape of your foot and your particular needs, then find the right shoe. Things like bunions, high arches, or narrow feet can affect your comfort, and finding the right shoe for the job is essential.

Nurses should rotate shoes between shifts, too. This will allow your footwear to dry out, so there is less chance of them getting moldy. You'll want to replace your nursing shoes every three to six months, too. Any longer than that and the padding and structure of the shoe may start to break down, reducing your comfort and support. 

Wear Compression Socks

If you are wondering how to stop nurse foot pain on a long shift, this is it. You'll want to add compression socks to your uniform right away. Compression socks are excellent for anyone who is on their feet a lot and great for helping to prevent nurse feet pain. The gentle compression of the ankles and calves will help ease swelling in your feet by supporting the cardiovascular system and promoting better blood flow through the legs. That helps prevent your legs and feet from getting tired and achy at the end of the day.

You can pick up an inexpensive pair at most pharmacies, but make sure you get the right fit. If you aren't sure or if the compression feels too tight, talk to a professional fitter. They'll measure your legs to fit socks that fit you correctly and provide the right amount of compression.

Woman doing yoga

Take a Yoga or Pilates Class

It's probably the last thing you want to do at the end of a 12-hour shift, but consider signing up for a yoga or Pilates class. These gentle workouts can do a lot for the well-being of your feet, including building their strength and flexibility. That, in turn, can make it easier for your feet to recover after a long shift. That means they'll be ready for the next shift a lot sooner and the nurse foot pain won't be as severe afterward. This will also help improve your balance and stability, and can be a benefit to those suffering from plantar fasciitis. 

Focus on stretching your feet and working the fascia in the sole of your foot, which can get tighter when it endures a lot of strain. Yoga and Pilates can help lower stress levels, as well, so you will likely get benefits beyond your feet when you attend a class.

Soak In An Epsom Salts Bath

This is a tried and true remedy that doesn't often get enough credit today. You might think the benefits are just an old wives' tale, but Epsom salts are actually great for your feet. The warm water of the bath will break down the salts, turning them into magnesium and sulfate. These are good for easing muscle tension and reducing inflammation. 

Follow these steps to get the full benefits of your Epsom salts:

  1. Fill up a bucket or your bathtub with warm water. Make sure it's just over ankle deep. 
  2. Sprinkle around half of a cup of Epsom salts into the water. 
  3. Stir the water to mix the salts in.
  4. Sit comfortably and soak your feet for at least 20 minutes. 
  5. Once done, dry off your feet and apply moisturizer. This will help prevent dry skin on your feet after soaking in the warm water. 

For an extra special foot treat, add peppermint oil to your water. The peppermint creates a cooling sensation for your feet that can also help them feel more refreshed. 

Man using a foot massager

Get a Shiatsu Foot & Leg Massager Machine

When it comes to a nurse's foot pain, there is nothing that feels as good as a nice foot and leg massage at the end of a shift. The health benefits of a good foot and leg massage also include lowering your blood pressure, reducing anxiety, and boosting your energy levels. When you have your own Shiatsu Foot & Leg Massager Machine at home, you can reap those benefits anytime you want. The machine targets your calves, ankles, and feet with deep-kneading technology. It can help improve blood flow while relieving painful symptoms of plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and stiffened joints. Make sure you get one with heat, too, because not only does this feel amazing, it can help melt away stress and help you relax after a shift.

It's not just foot pain that this Shiatsu massager can help with. It can also help with health conditions such as:

  • Neuropathy
  • Migraines
  • Arthritis
  • Athletic injuries
  • Nausea
  • Depression

And more. It's a worthwhile investment for anyone in the nursing profession. You'll be able to use it, again and again, to experience foot pain relief. Bringing home a Shiatsu massaging machine for your feet ensures you have that relaxing, deep-tissue massage whenever you need it. 

Those working in nursing need to be diligent about their self-care, to avoid burnout and continue bringing their much-needed skills to the public. A big part of that self-care starts with the feet. When your feet feel good, they'll be ready to support the rest of your body and carry you through your day. Make a few of these suggestions a part of your daily routine and see how much better your feet start to feel.