How is working from home causing increased foot pain?

Person sitting on their couch at home on a virtual teleconference call

How can working from home cause increased foot pain?

It's a fact  that COVID-19 has changed the face of how we all work and interact, workplace closures resulted in 70% of Americans working remotely. Virtual meetings and calls are now the standard form of communication and since the start of the pandemic we have seen a rise in increased foot pain. How, you ask?

Simply put, there's no reason to put on your shoes if you're not leaving the house. People are walking barefooted, in socks or slippers causing direct transfer of stress to their feet. Most homes have flooring that consists of hardwood, tile, vinyl, or concrete. Walking daily on these surfaces can eventually take its toll. 

Prior to stay-put orders, many of us would put on our shoes and go to work and have some level of coverage and protection to our feet for at least eight hours or more. 

Shoes act as a buffer and absorbs much of the shock that our feet would otherwise feel. 

People are also working out from home instead of going to the gym and as a result, are exercising in their living rooms, often times only in socks or barefooted, resulting in repetitive stress to the feet. 

Aside from acting as shock absorbers, shoes can provide reinforcement to our arches and stabilize the foot to reduce repetitive stress to our soft tissue, bones, and joints. 

Depending on your foot type, some people require more arch support than others.

Soft tissue conditions like plantar fasciitis and tendinitis, and bone and joint conditions like arthritis and metatarsalgia, can arise from lack of arch support and lack of adequate shock absorption from our shoes. 

Shoes also provide us with protection, either bumping into furniture or stepping on objects. Many in home foot injuries that occur such as toe fractures or stepping on glass or other foreign objects can often be prevented if shoes are worn. 

So does this mean we should be wearing shoes all the time? Not necessarily. 

There are benefits to allowing your feet to breathe and move freely. Just like our diets, it should be balanced and variety is key. 

So what should we consider wearing at home?

Choosing a good supportive shoe that accommodates to your foot shape and ensuring that shoes have thick soles with reinforced arches can help those that tend to roll in-wards, have flat arches or pronate.

Shoes with thick soles are helpful for those that have high arched feet and tend to strike harder on their heels and along the outer edge of their feet. 

An easy to slip on, athletic sandal or a cork foot bed with deep heel cup, makes for an ideal house shoe as it provides good support while allowing your feet to breathe.

Clogs or mules with similar supportive soles and foot beds are another good option with more protection to our toes as well.

But what about carrying germs or COVID into houses through our shoes?

Thirty per cent of Americans don't wear shoes in the house for fear of transfering dirt or germs into the home and therefore shoes are left at the door, others, it may be habit or cultural tradition to never wear shoes in the house. With COVID-19, the number of people not wearing shoes inside their is on the rise. So how do we by pass these concerns?

I reccommend finding a shoe or sandal with good support and make that your dedicated house shoe so you aren’t transporting dirt or germs from outside. 

So how can you best take care of your feet during this time?

Aside from providing your feet with adequate support and protective foot wear while walking at home or exercising from home, make sure you take time to get up frequently and perform stretching exercises to both your feet and legs. 

The following links provide simple stretching exercises that you can perform daily:

Stretches for foot and heel pain-Healthwise

Four stretches for plantar fasciitis - APMA

Guide to basic stretches - Mayo Clinic

Don’t delay seeking medical attention during this time. 

People are so concerned about COVID-19 that they are waiting longer to seek medical attention, causing their conditions to further deteriorate. Aside from foot pain, skin and soft tissue infections like ingrown toenails, diabetic foot ulcers and wounds are on the rise from delayed foot care. 

Don’t delay seeking care, prolonging treatment can often lead to long term consequences or complications that may require surgical intervention. 

Our office is taking all the necessary safety precautions and closely screening to ensure our patients are safe. We observe masking at all times and our staff and doctors are fully vaccinated. 

Call and make an appointment with one of our Podiatrists if you have any foot or ankle pain and any skin, nail, and soft tissue infections of the foot and lower leg. We can also help assess your foot type and suggest the proper shoe gear that's right for you. 

Call us at (512) 394-5108 or make an appointment online at Blue Bonnet Foot and Ankle Institute

 

Author
Dr. Thuy Ho Ellsworth Dr. Thuy Ho-Ellsworth is a double board certified podiatrist with Bluebonnet Foot and Ankle Institute with over 10 years experience in the Austin area. Her love for fitness, food and nutrition rival her love of sports medicine and with a background in education, she is equally passionate about sharing her knowledge and expertise with patients in how the foot functions and its impact on the body as a whole. “Our feet is our prime mode of transportation and it’s my goal to keep patients moving!”

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