Why do my feet hurt from standing all day?
Our tried and tested tips to treat your toes.
If you work on your feet, you have probably come home sore more times than you can count. It’s an annoying thing that we get used to after a while, but you might be wondering if there are other options.
Is it really something we all just have to put up with?
Could standing all day be doing real damage?
Am I overreacting?
You’re definitely not imagining it. Just 2-3 hours of standing can leave you feeling sore, tired and frustrated.
Why do my feet hurt from standing at work?
The bottom line is that forcing the body into any position for extended periods causes pain. Our bodies use energy most economically when running because that is what we are designed to do.
Standing still does the opposite of this, placing our bodies under immense pressure without providing strengthening benefits or energy release. Because we spend a large chunk of time at work, it is usually the place responsible for standing-related injuries.
Instead of the health benefits we get when we exercise, standing still can cause the following problems:
Usually, our muscles are moving constantly, even if we don’t realise it. They flex and twitch in minute movements to keep us steady and upright. Muscles that are forced into one position for extended periods become stiff and rigid, which causes fatigue.
Symptoms of muscle fatigue include soreness, shaking or twitching and cramps. Muscle fatigue generally feels like your muscles are overtired. Hence the name.
Inflammation is another reaction to overuse, where muscles swell up to protect themselves.
The main symptom of muscle inflammation is pain, and this might be accompanied by visible swelling.
To immediately relieve inflammation, hold a cold pack on the affected area.
Poor circulation is one of the most deadly effects of prolonged standing. In worst-case scenarios, blood clots, heart attacks and stroke can result from inadequate blood. Pregnant people also need to be careful, as unborn babies need adequate blood delivered to them.
Early warning signs of poor circulation are dizziness, tingling, bulging veins and cold hands and feet. Chest pains and pale skin are more serious symptoms.
There aren’t many jobs that come completely stress-free, but keeping your body in a state of prolonged physical stress can be avoided. Symptoms of muscular stress include soreness, tension, headaches, dizziness and stomach complaints.
These health conditions don’t just affect the muscles. Standing all day also puts pressure on our joints, veins and fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds all our bones, organs and muscles. It acts as a sort of safety net, flexing and tightening with the rest of the body.
Even if you stretch regularly, you might still be neglecting your fascia, so here is how to properly deal with your sore feet – fascia and all.
How to fix your sore feet
We recommend a combination of two things to help reduce sore feet: stretching and anti fatigue matting.
You don’t have to join a yoga studio or convert to Hare Krishna to enjoy the benefits of yoga. Regular stretching has hundreds of science-backed health benefits, and these are particularly important if you are on your feet all day.
The school of yoga that targets connective tissue (fascia) and aims to soothe the body is called yin. Yin is a super-relaxing practice that involves holding poses for long periods (usually a few minutes) to really get deep into the fascia.
As well as relieving aches and pains from standing all day, yoga can help prevent them in the first place. Improving strength, flexibility and mobility is exactly what you need to stay healthy on your feet.
So, here are some great yin stretches to strengthen and nourish the joints, muscles and fascia in your feet:
This one HURTS but the benefits are immediate. Make sure you come out slowly too because your toes will definitely be sticky.
To do the toe stand, kneel with your feet flexed so that your toes bend underneath you. Then, sit back onto your heels as much as you comfortably can. The first few times you do this, you might need to lean forward to make it less intense.
This is a great counter-stretch for the toe stand, as it targets the tops of the feet.
Kneel again but this time with your toes pointed so the tops of your feet are flat on the floor. Place a cushion under your knees and lean back until you feel a comfortable stretch in your ankles.
Perhaps the most famous of the yoga poses, downward-facing dog is a fantastic full-body stretch. This pose particularly targets the calf muscles, which are a common tight area in anyone that walks, stands or runs a lot.
To get into downward-facing dog, start on all fours with a neutral (straight) spine. Then, tuck your toes and lift your hips until you form an upside-down v-shape. Push with your fingertips and the top of your palm and rotate your elbows away from your body.
Push your hips back and try to get your heels as flat on the ground as possible. Most people cannot flatten their feet first time but the more you practise the more flexible you will become.
Anti fatigue mats
By far the best way to protect your feet from the pain of standing still all day is to stand on an anti fatigue mat. Anti fatigue mats provide a soft yet sturdy barrier between your feet and the floor, allowing your muscles to flex and bend as is natural for your body.
Anti fatigue mats have been proven to reduce pain and fatigue, as well as other health problems related to prolonged periods of standing. If you work at a standing desk, check out this article on ergonomic mats for standing desks.
How to relieve foot pain from standing all day
We highly recommend using a combination of stretching and anti fatigue matting to reduce your foot pain as quickly as possible. Prevention is always better than a cure, so if you can avoid standing directly on hard grounds by placing a mat underneath your feet, you will feel much better.
If you have any questions about anti fatigue mats, our matxperts are always happy to help. They know mats better than anyone and can provide a personalised recommendation in minutes.