Leonardo DaVinci said, “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”
You can’t put that masterpiece in any old shoe.
I talked with Gabrielle White, RN, CASC, and executive director of Ambulatory Services and Network Development at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, California. With 25 years of experience in orthopedics, White doled out some essential advice when it comes to choosing appropriate footwear.
Q. What is important to consider when shopping for nursing shoes?
A. Comfort, support and protection are the key elements here. We need shoes that are designed for comfort: solid enough to protect your feet, soft enough to be comfortable. A little bit of a raised heel helps support as well. You also need your shoes to protect you from any fluids — whether its body fluids or chemicals — you may come into contact with when delivering healthcare. Shoes that are easy to clean and less prevalent for slipping can really carry you through the day.
Q. What happens when someone doesn’t wear good shoes?
A. The most common complaints from people who don’t wear good footwear are pain and general fatigue. If you don’t have supportive shoes, eventually that trickles up to the rest of your body. You wind up with aching feet, tired legs and, over the course of years, back and joint pain.
Q. What should we do to take the pressure off of our legs and feet?
A. If you are on your feet all day, you should take opportunities to sit whenever you can. You see people standing at their computer when they could be sitting, and at the end of the day they’re exhausted. Take the weight off your feet and legs for a little bit every so often. Rotate your ankles a bit, flex and extend your feet, bend your knees to get the blood pumping to your muscles. Keep yourself hydrated to promote circulation. It’s also important to stretch when you get home. I like to lie on my back on the floor and put my legs flat on the wall.
Q. What are some general tips for maintaining strong posture?
A. Head up, shoulders back, stomach in — just like our mothers used to tell us. When we’re not paying attention we begin to slouch down and that encouraged fatigue. So every now and again you have to remind yourself of your posture, it has to be something you develop an awareness of. Keep your head high and your shoulders back. It’s also important to stop and take some slow, deep breaths, then continue what you’re doing. Because when we’re stressed or when we’re busy doing things, we breathe very shallowly. Taking deep breaths helps expand your lungs, get more oxygen into you, and helps relax the tension in our bodies. If we did that once an hour, we all would be better off.