It’s no secret that nurses spend all day on their feet. And like air crew, the nursing profession is well known for the toll it takes on its workers legs. Unlike cabin crew, however, sitting down at any point is a nurse’s fairytale.
With extended shifts, running back and forth between patients and doctors, and the relentless pressure – especially during these intense and uncertain times – it’s hardly surprising that when our national heroes finally get home at the end of a shift they often have swollen legs and sore, aching feet. If you’re in the nursing profession, and your legs are getting the short end of the stick, these simple, affordable suggestions will help keep you going when patients need you the most.
THE BIG STRETCH
What nurse has time for voluntary exercise I hear you ask? And isn’t running from patient room to patient room exercise enough? Remember though – exercise doesn’t need to be heart-hammering cardio to be effective. What often happens when you finally get the chance to sit down after a long shift is that your muscles lock up and become stiff, making getting going again extra-tough.
Stretch your feet, legs, and ankles after every shift and if needed, whenever you can during the workday. Do some ankle rolls while you’re checking a patient’s vitals or charting, and if you have a minute, stretch out your hamstrings. It only takes a few minutes but staying flexible can keep you from hitting the end-of-the-day wall so hard.
LONG SHIFT CALLS FOR LONG SOAK
After spending hours on your feet, it’s normal for them to be tired, sore, and stiff. Even the best-laid plans to prevent pain won’t stand up to a particularly difficult shift and there’s going to be some (or many) days that you go home feeling like you can barely walk. When you’re crawling through your front door in your scrubs, you need an emergency solution that provides relief fast.
Soaking your feet in Epsom salts is more than an old folk remedy. It works to relieve swelling and inflammation, both of which are present in abundance after spending 12 hours on your feet in a hospital or doctor’s office. Add some Epsom salts to your bath or to a foot bowl with warm-to-hot water in it. You can add essential oils that can also help reduce pain and inflammation or rejuvenate the feet, such as lavender or peppermint oil.
Our leg-lightening cream Air-Lite Daily Lift For Legs was made for times like these: apply it to your feet and legs – from ankles to thigh – after soaking in Epsom salts
THE WONDERS OF COMPRESSION WEAR
They’re not just for elderly or diabetic patients .. when you spend all day upright compression socks help greatly to prevent stiff, sore legs and feet. When you’re working in a fast-paced environment with no time to sit down and relax, blood can pool in your legs and feet, leading to pain and swelling. Your feet and legs are over-worked, and they just can’t keep up with the rest of you, so instead of the blood being returned back to your heart, it just hangs out in your lower extremeties. If you’ve ever noticed that your shoes are particularly tight at the end of a shift or you have difficulty switching from your work shoes to regular shoes because they seem too small, you’ve likely experienced this medical phenomenon.
Bite the bullet and head down to your hospital’s pharmacy or the supermarket to get a pair of compression socks or tights. Wear them during your shift to promote blood circulation from your legs and feet back to your upper body, making it less likely that you’ll go home with sore, swollen toes.
An application of Air-Lite before you pull on compression socks or tights will maximise support hosiery’s leg-lightening benefits
TAKE A LOAD OFF YOUR FEET
Once your shift is over, you hopefully will have some time to sit down and let your body relax before you have to put it to work again. Like compression socks and tights, putting your feet up at the end of your shift (or whenever you can) helps to return blood that has pooled in your lower legs to your heart and back through the rest of your body.
Don’t just put your feet up on a stool or another chair. This can be somewhat effective, but what will really get your blood flowing is if you put your legs up against a wall and it’s best to do this after your Epsom salt foot bath and an application of Air-Lite. Lie on your bed with your bottom to the wall and put your legs up against the wall so your feet are over your head. If your bed doesn’t touch the wall or you need to do this on the fly, just use the floor. You may look silly, but keep your feet elevated for 10 minutes or so, or until you feel like the swelling has reduced.
Of all the things nurses can do to care for their feet, wearing high-quality, comfortable shoes is the most important – it truly helps with a long shift when you’re wearing the right shoes. You may be surprised to learn that supportive footwear does more than just help keep your feet from getting tired and sore — they’re also easier on the rest of your body, especially your lower back, knees, and ankles.
Nurses should be fitted for new shoes or orthopedic insoles every year and two pairs are a must, so they can be rotated between shifts. And because your shoes get so much wear and tear, they will need replacing every three to six months.
This is a case of comfort v style! And make sure the style of shoe you buy suits the shape of your feet and is the correct size with room to accommodate for swelling
When you take care of your legs and feet, they will take care of you. Use these tips as often as you can to keep your lower limbs from getting tired too quickly and to rejuvenate them after a tough day on the floor. Combining these suggestions can give you an arsenal of leg and foot pain-fighting tools that make it easier to get through those tough days on a truly demanding job.
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