It’s no secret that nurses make use of all day on their feet. With more shifts and running left and right between patients, doctors, the lab, and the restroom (just kidding, there’s no time for bathroom breaks), nurses return home with sore, aching feet. Some shifts pass beyond the normal 8 hours, and the physical requirements of nurses are often on par with a traditional labor-intensive job. There’s no doubt that a nurse’s feet are receiving the short end of the stick.

Since sitting is a nurse's fairytale, nurses need to make time to keep their feet healthy, even when time is at a premium. Don't know where to commence? These simple, affordable tips will help keep the feeling in your feet and keep you motivated when patients need you more.

Stretching and Exercise

Yes, the touching E-word. What nurse has time for free exercise? And isn’t running from patient room to patient room exercise enough? Before you note the idea of moving your body when you don’t have to, note that exercise doesn’t need to be heart-hammering cardio to be effective. What often occurs when nurses finally get the opportunity to sit down after a long shift is their muscles lock up and become stiff, making getting going harder.

What To Do

Stretch your feet, legs, and ankles after every shift and if required, whenever you can during the work period. 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 involves a few minutes but being flexible can keep you from hitting the end-of-the-day wall so hard. Exercise also place you in shape, making it simple for you to be on track at work.

Rough Shift? Soak Your Feet

After utilizing hours on your feet, it’s usual for them to be tired, sore, and stiff. Even the best-laid plans to prevent pain won’t stand up to a particularly hard shift and there’s going to be some (or many) days that you go home feeling like you can barely place your feet on the ground. When you’re battling through your front door in your scrubs, you need an emergency solution that provides relief fast.

What To Do

Soaking your feet in Epsom salt is more than an old folk solution. It works to reduce swelling and inflammation, both of which are available in excess after spending 12 hours on your feet in a health center or doctor’s office. 

Fill a basin with warm to hot water (just be wary of burns, even if it feels amazing) and sprinkle a generous amount of Epsom salt in the water, stirring until dissolved. You can add relevant oils that can also help reduce pain and inflammation or balance the feet, such as lavender or peppermint oil. Now you finally have a good excuse to put a massaging foot bath on your season list!

Do Some Compression Socks

No, compression socks are not just for old or diabetic patients. When you utilize all day upright, compression socks can help to reduce stiff, sore legs and feet. When you’re working in a crowded environment with no time to sit down and relax, blood can pool in your legs and feet, resulting in 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 push back to your heart, it just hangs out in your lower extremities. 

If you've ever noticed that your shoes are particularly tight at the end of a shift or you have a problem switching from your work shoes to regular shoes because they seem too small, you’ve likely faced this medical phenomenon.

What To Do

Head down to your hospital’s pharmacy or home health center and take some compression socks in your size. You can also discover them at nearly any supermarket. Put them on during your shift to enhance 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.

Take a Load Off After Your Shift

Once your shift is exhausted, you hopefully will have some time to sit down and let your body relax before you have to set it to work again. Like compression socks, putting your feet up at the end of your shift (or whenever you can) helps to push blood that has pooled in your lower legs to your heart and back through the rest of your body.

What To Do

Don’t just place your feet up on a stool or another chair. This can be somewhat effective, but what will get your blood flowing is if you put your legs up against a wall. 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 reach the wall or you need to do this on the fly, just make use of the floor. You may look silly, but keep your feet up for 10 minutes or so, or until you feel like the swelling has come down.

It’s All About the Shoes (Really!)

Of all the things nurses can utilize to care for their feet, wearing high-quality, comfortable shoes is the most essential. Grueling 12-hour shifts seem to go by in a snap when you’re putting on the right shoes. You may be amazed to discover 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.

What To Do

Nurses should buy new shoes or orthopedic insoles per annum and two pairs are a must, so they can be rotated between shifts. Because a nurse’s shoes get so much wear and tear, they’ll need changes every 3-6 months.

Nurses should think most about comfort versus style when it comes to shoes. Get a style of shoe in the correct size for you and make sure there’s room to welcome swelling. Don't forget about easy cleanability — after all, nursing is a messy job!

When you take care of your feet, your feet will take care of you. Use these tips to keep your feet from getting tired too easily and to fine-tune them after a tough day on the floor. Combining these tips can give you an arsenal of foot pain-fighting tools that make it simpler to get through those tough days on the job. When your feet feel good, it’s easier to keep up with call-lights, doctor’s orders, tests, and emergency occurrences.

May 12, 2023

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person
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