Home Health & Wellness Expert Explains the Risks of Wearing Impractical Footwear to Work

Expert Explains the Risks of Wearing Impractical Footwear to Work

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Have you ever noticed that by the end of the working day, you’ve got an aching back, or the muscles in your leg feel stiff? According to experts, your footwear could have something to do with it.

While a job that requires you to be on your feet all day can naturally cause the muscles in your leg to become tired, wearing impractical footwear such as heels or shoes that don’t fit correctly can result in all kinds of health problems.

John Johnston, head of E-Commerce at Workwear Express, the UK’s leading provider of Workwear clothing, has outlined why sensible footwear is so important in the workplace and discusses the associated long-term and short-term risks to employees’ health below.

What are the risks associated with wearing impractical footwear to work?

The average construction worker walks a reported 1,600 steps an hour on-site, with nurses walking more than four miles in a typical 12-hour shift. Therefore,  it cannot be underestimated how important the need for comfortable and practical footwear in the workplace is, as it can bring all sorts of associated risks to employees’ health and well-being.

Many may not realise that these podiatry risks apply to every kind of job, including office workers or even those jobs that don’t require workers to do a lot of walking in a typical day.

Here are just  some of the  potential risks associated with wearing impractical footwear at work

They can cause painful foot problems such as bunions, blisters, and corns

In some circumstances, impractical shoes such as heels, tight or pointy shoes can cause blisters, corns and bunions.

While in most cases, these will clear up on their own and only cause discomfort and possible pain, bunions carry the risk of longer-term medical complications and can continue to worsen the longer you wear shoes that aren’t appropriate for your feet.

According to the Royal College of Podiatry, bunions are more common in women, with about one in six (15%) across the UK suffering due to the more restrictive footwear they typically wear. Bunions can cause joints to bend as your muscles get pushed out of position, leading to pain in the foot and surgery, in many cases, needed to correct them.

They can cause lower back pain, leg fatigue and muscle stiffness

Uncomfortable or impractical footwear can also cause an employee to suffer from lower back pain, especially if their job requires them to be on their feet for a significant part of the day.

As feet is the foundation of our body, when we wear shoes to work that don’t support them properly, it can cause an imbalance in how our body absorbs the energy generated when we walk or run, causing our spine to become misaligned. These misalignments can cause muscle spasms, stiffness and fatigue, reducing our range of motion.

Jobs that require you to wear heels are a specific cause of lower back pain or muscle stiffness due to their style and shape and the fact that you are placing extreme pressure on the front part of your foot when standing or walking. Doing this causes your lower back to move forward slightly, meaning that your posture changes completely, and the natural curve of your spine shifts.

It can hinder productivity and cause distraction

Alongside the risk of possible short and longer-term injuries, wearing shoes that prove uncomfortable or impractical for a role can reduce employee efficiency. This is because when heavy or painful shoes weigh us down, we will navigate around our workspace more slowly and less efficiently than usual.

As well as this, when you wear painful footwear, your stamina and energy can decrease, meaning that you are productive for shorter periods of time and distracted by any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.

They can increase the chances of injury or falls in the workplace

Impractical footwear can also increase your chances of being injured during work accidents. For example, wearing shoes that do not have sufficient grip on them may mean that you slip, trip or fall more easily, while open-toe shoes may mean that you are more likely to sustain an injury if something falls or lands on your feet. 

Tips for choosing practical footwear for work

Consider comfort

First and foremost, when picking shoes for work, you should consider whether they are comfortable, especially if you have to be on your feet for long periods of the day. Try to choose shoes that are cushioned well so that your feet are comfortable all day and can help absorb the shock of energy you get when you walk or exercise.  

Think about the fit

As well as comfort, you would want to think about the fit of your shoes. Make sure to avoid tight shoes where possible in this scenario, as they can increase the pressure on your feet, affecting your spine’s alignment. To check this when buying shoes, ensure there is wiggle room for your toes, or if you’re unsure, ask a shoe salesperson to measure your feet and help you find the right fit of the shoe. 

Make sure you know what level of protection you need for your job

While this will vary from person to person, it is important to consider what kind of protection you need when picking shoes for work. For example, do you need shoes that prevent you from getting an electric shock in high-voltage electricity areas?

Wear footwear that has durability

You might also want to think about how durable your shoes will be for your job. If you work in an industry where your shoes will get a lot of wear and tear, or you are moving around a lot, consider shoes that will stand the test of time, as broken shoes can also lead to workers sustaining injuries more easily. 

For those looking for work footwear options that are durable, comfortable and will help to prevent any work-related injuries, employers can visit  Workwear Express to scope out footwear offerings.

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