Most people spend more time standing on their feet than actually thinking about them, and even less time taking care of them. This is especially true in the labor workforce. People work long hours on their feet, standing and walking from station to station, moving heavy objects. Without proper footwear and appropriate support for the job, employees can be subject to more than just discomfort. Workers are often faced with back, ankle, knee and hip pain, bad posture and foot problems like plantar fasciitis, sprains, bunions and corns.

Often times, these pains and ailments require employees to take time off for self-care and recovery, missing work days and leaving their colleagues to fill in for them. Let’s take a look at different types of problems that stem from foot issues and the proper tools that can be implemented by employees and companies to prevent them.

The pain of sore feet spreads

Corns. Bunions. Sprains. Oh my! Whether we realize it or not, our overall health can be impacted by work-related activities and foot health. If our feet aren’t properly armed with foot protection and support, when working on our feet or standing for long periods of time, the risk of inflammation and permanent damage greatly increases.

Foot pain and discomfort can change the way we walk, whether we’re conscious that our gait has changed or not. When we modify our gait to avoid putting weight on a sore foot, other muscles and bones in our bodies are then affected and over compensate for the weaker muscles and pain afflicted area. Our bodies are complex, our musculoskeletal system is all connected, and when our walk is ‘off,’ we end up putting stress on our hips, knees and backs. Before we know it, our sore feet have turned into continuous pain, that affects other body parts — from the feet, to the knees, to the lower back. It’s a vicious cycle of discomfort.

Not only can pain in other areas the body stem from our foot health, but if we don’t take care of the source, our bodies can develop plantar fasciitis, corns, bunions and hammer toes, just to name a few. These are all unpleasant results of neglecting our foot health. Each of these health issues are often formed when the normal balance of the forces exerted on one’s joints and tendons of the feet are disrupted. It can take months or even years for these health issues to develop and many of them are caused by wearing the wrong shoes, deformities, foot injuries and neuromuscular disorders.

Foot pain restricts lifestyles

Let’s be honest: when our feet hurt, we don’t want to be on them. However, this gets complicated when one is required to be on their feet for their jobs and personal lives, like taking the kids to school or going to the grocery store.

This may seem obvious, but many people don’t realize how missing out on beneficial everyday activities can negatively impact their overall health and wellness. One may choose the elevator instead of the stairs, or skip their nightly walk with their family. Even these short stints of light exercise can add up to health benefits. However, if someone is suffering from foot pain, they are less likely to get up and move. Additionally, living a sedentary lifestyle can often cause weight gain, leading to more strain on their already suffering feet and enhancing foot problems, leading to a vicious cycle.

Not to mention this takes a toll on one’s mental health and outlook. Less exercise leads to fewer endorphins being released, resulting in an unhappy individual. Not only will their outlook affect their personal lives, but their work lives as well.

Insoles provide ergonomic relief

Fortunately, there are ways to ease the discomfort employees may be experiencing. Some employers have found they can help their employees by purchasing and implementing an insole program. If employees are being asked to stand on their feet or continuously move throughout the day, an aide for them would be anti-fatigue insoles.

Reports have shown that musculoskeletal injuries are the root cause for a majority of injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Many of these injuries can be prevented through the use of anti-fatigue insoles, which are designed to absorb shock and reduce much of the stress and sprain caused by standing on one’s feet daily.

One of the most common causes of absenteeism in the workplace is back pain. The Global Burden of Diseases 2010 even listed lower back pain as the leading cause of disability worldwide.1 These staggering statistics show how ergonomics can revolutionize our lives and the workplace. The ergonomic design of anti-fatigue insoles works to reduce back pain. If one experiences less strain and fatigue in their feet and the muscles of the legs, they may notice less strain on their back. Lower back pain is frequently reduced and sometimes eliminated completely if proper footwear and insoles are implemented.

With the acknowledgment of the different types of problems that employees may experience when foot health isn’t top-of-mind, it’s the responsibility of a company to provide support for their employees. By providing ergonomic solutions, companies can help their employees experience less pain and injuries. The overall mood and morale of a company will improve as employees start to feel better and happier at work. Additionally, performance and productivity will increase, which is a benefit not only the employer, but the employee as well. Each step of this process is a step in the right direction towards foot health.