Pharmacists spend their entire day focused on their customers’ health and wellness, sometimes leaving little time to attend to their own healthy habits. On a normal day, pharmacists can spend hours standing in one place, eating on the run and perhaps wearing shoes designed more for fashion than utility.
It is important that pharmacists be proactive when it comes to their own health and well-being so they can actively take care of their customers and their business. If the idea of self-care is foreign to you, start by taking baby steps: pay attention to your lower extremities.
Best Foot Forward
No matter how technologically advanced day-to-day tasks become, pharmacy still remains a physically demanding career. Standing on your feet eight or more hours a day, five or more days a week, affects you physically and mentally. Your job demands a clear head, and it’s hard to concentrate when your feet are throbbing and your back is aching. It is vital to practice prevention and pay attention to symptoms that can effect your mood and productivity, such as:
- Varicose Veins: If you’re just starting your career in pharmacy, this may be the best advice you’ll ever receive: wear support socks or hose.1 Every pharmacist knows the root cause of varicose veins, along with the unsightly look and the pain that can accompany the condition. Preventative measures should start the minute you step behind the counter and continue throughout your career.
- Foot Pain: Beware of hard floor surfaces and the wrong shoes; both will ruin your day and make your feet scream, “UNCLE!”
- Purchase an anti-fatigue mat. These are specially designed to cushion your feet when you must stand for long periods of time. However, even with mats, you can develop lower back pain after and during long hours of standing.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Purchase several pairs of work shoes and rotate them throughout the week. Consider using arch supports, as muscle fatigue is one of the leading causes of fallen arches. Your feet are the largest at the end of the day, which is the best time to purchase a new pair of shoes to ensure the proper fit. Don’t go over a two-inch heel; the lower the heel, the more natural the foot position.2
- Ice your feet. Twenty minutes helps reduce swelling and increase blood flow.
- Sit whenever you can.
- Avoid standing in one spot for too long.
- Stretch. A few standing bench presses for the back and calf muscle stretches can energise the body.3
- Foot Health Signs:
- Hairless feet and toes. This could be a sign that your feet aren’t getting enough blood flow. Test the pulse in your feet to ensure your heart is pumping enough blood to your feet to maintain good circulation.
- Frequent cramping. Drink plenty of water, and make sure your potassium, magnesium and calcium intake are sufficient.
- Sores that won’t heal. This is a red flag for diabetes.
- Suddenly enlarged big toe. This could be a sign of gout or another inflammatory issue.
- Bunions. To avoid bunions, which mostly affect women, it’s best to wear roomy shoes and avoid high heels.
- Pampering Pedicures: Both men and women should get a pedicure every six to eight weeks. Pedicures help:
- Detect corns, bunions and fungal infections early.
- Decrease chances of infections by eliminating dirt and bacteria from your feet.
- Keep your skin moisturized to help prevent cracking and blisters.
- Increase circulation and reduce pain.4
Prevention Magazine’s “3 Foot Stretches to Help You Walk Without Pain”
Toe stretch – Sit in a chair with your right leg crossed over the left thigh. Interlace left fingers with right toes (as if holding hands with your foot). Squeeze fingers and toes together and hold for 10 seconds, then stretch wide for 10 seconds. Do three times with each foot. Repeat with left leg crossed over the right.
Arch massage – Stand with a tennis ball directly under the second toe of your right foot. Slowly roll the ball around sole of foot for one to three minutes; repeat with left foot.
Heel relief – Sit with your right leg extended with the left foot against the right inner thigh. Bend forward and hook your right thumb around the pinky toe and left thumb around the big toe (it’s OK to bend your knee), with fingers wrapped around your sole. Pull back with hands to flex the foot and gently press your thumbs away from each other to separate toes. Hold and massage the bottom of your foot for 30 seconds. Do twice with each foot.5
At the end of the day, there is delight in kicking off your shoes and wiggling your toes. It simply helps you feel less constricted in your movements. Barefoot runners call this propriception – the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion and equilibrium.6 There are also theories that walking barefoot in the sand or earthing – a phenomenon where electrical energy from the earth is absorbed through your feet – can help mentally ground and center you.7
This may sound a little hippie-dippie to a scientific mindset, but think about walking on the beach or walking barefoot across a lush green lawn. Remember how, with each step, stress seemed to melt away.
So listen to your body, follow the example you set for customers, take preventative measures and treat your feet.
1 Leuck, Steve, Pharm.D. Standing All Day at the Pharmacy takes a Physical Toll. Pharmacy Times. August 6, 2016. Web. 22 May 2017. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/steve-leuck-pharmd/2016/08/standing-all-day-at-the-pharmacy-takes-a-physical-toll
2 Feet Fact Quiz. MedicineNet.com. February 7, 2012. Web. 22 May 2017. http://www.medicinenet.com/feet_facts_quiz/quiz.htm
3 Haggan, Megan. How to managed foot pain from standing. Postscript.com.au. June 26, 2014. Web. 22 May 2017. https://postscript.com.au/features/health/manage-foot-pain-standing/
4 6 Health Benefits of Pedicures. NueStep. March 2, 2014. Web. 22 May 2017. https://nuestepprocedure.com/6-health-benefits-pedicures/
5 Gingerich, Natalie. 3 Foot Stretches to Help You Walk Without Pain. Prevention. July 24, 2015. Web. 23 May 2017. http://www.prevention.com/fitness/foot-stretches-prevent-pain
6,7 Martin, Elf. 8 Benefits of Walking and Running Barefoot on the Sand. Softstar. July 2, 2015. Web. 23 May 2017. http://www.softstarshoes.com/live-bare-blog/2015/07/02/benefits-walking-running-barefoot-sand/