Work standing up: how to avoid hurting your feet
Last update: 8 May 2020
Reducing heart problems, preventing obesity, improving productivity—standing has many benefits.
However, in some instances, working upright can cause stiffness or pain in the feet and legs.
So, how can you reap the benefits of working on your feet without experiencing musculoskeletal pain?
What follows are some helpful podiatrist tips to avoid discomfort.
Understand the risks of working on your feet
Despite the undeniable advantages of a standing workstation, remaining on your feet all day can also present a slew of problems.
When not using a standing desk properly, you may experience these disorders (among others):
- Muscular fatigue
- Joint stiffness in the feet, hips, and knees
- Back and leg pain
Given that these symptoms can lead to long-term problems, we recommend that you alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Wear the right shoes
To remain comfortable at your standing workstation, you need the right gear.
Since it’s your shoes that offer the most support and balance, you’ll want to choose your pair wisely. For instance, high heels and flat sandals offer poor support and should be avoided.
To maximize comfort during your daily tasks, your shoes should:
- Provide ample arch support
- Properly cushion the entire foot without compressing it
- Provide enough space for the toes
- Have a small heel of approximately 1 cm
If your shoes check all these boxes yet you still experience pain, specific biomechanical issues may need to be addressed.
In this case, we advise you to meet with a podiatrist to analyze your foot pain and treat the problem at its source.
Rethink your posture at work
Poor posture is often the cause of the pain experienced by those working on their feet.
However, if you’ve tried every standing position and still experience discomfort, the issue may be the actual shape of your feet.
Given that your feet are responsible for your body’s lift and balance, even the smallest defect can lead to major postural issues.
To reduce discomfort when standing, you may need to adjust certain habits:
- Avoid putting all your weight on one leg
- Keep your neck and back straight
- Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, keeping your forearms parallel to the surface of your desk or standing worktable
- Change your position regularly and dedicate part of your day to sitting
- Ensure your computer monitor is aligned correctly
- Resist the urge to lean on your desk or standing worktable
Change your office location
Your office floor also plays a role in your comfort.
For example, wooden floors have adequate shock absorption, whereas concrete floors do not.
In the long term, a cement floor can have harmful effects on your joints and posture.
So, if your standing workstation is on a hard surface, we recommend using an anti-fatigue mat.
Purchase custom foot orthotics
Foot orthotics are not always necessary for standing work.
However, if you’ve tried the many steps listed above yet still experience pain, orthotics may be worth considering.
Custom-made foot orthotics address abnormalities such as flat foot or cavus foot as well as pathologies, including:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Heel spurs
- Bunions (hallux valgus)
- Achilles tendonitis
- An old foot or leg injury
Before committing to standing at work, be sure to consult a podiatrist