Walking on a concrete surface all day can cause serious issues with your feet, knees, and back. Those who spend all day working on concrete surfaces are often left with soreness, stiffness, and even serious pain. Some common issues from working on concrete or other hard surfaces all day include:
- flat feet (fallen arches)
- knee pain
- numb feet
- "hot" feet or calves
- back pain
- shoulder pain
- hip pain
So what can you do to help alleviate these symptoms?
Here are a few avenues to explore if your job requires you to walk on concrete all day.
Invest in a GOOD Pair of Work Boots or Shoes
Boots and shoes specifically designed for working environments serve many purposes. While they may look tough and uncomfortable, one of work footwear's most important functions is to provide support for your feet throughout a long work day. If you want to see a list of our favorite boots check out this list.
In terms of improving comfort and decreasing soreness and pain, the cushioning and insole are the most important part of a solid boot. They are specifically designed to help relieve the pressure that can lead to chronic foot, knee, and back pain. While a work boot insole may not look all that exciting, companies spend a great deal of time and money researching the best materials and shapes to help support the wearers foot.
My current personal favorite is the Wolverine Raider. You can read more about it here. It provides the perfect amount of support for my feet. While time-consuming, it's well worth trying several different pairs to find your perfect fit.
This is done by supporting the natural shape of your foot. The challenge for boot companies (and all footwear companies) is that no two people's feet are exactly alike. In fact sometimes an individual persons feet can be different from one another.
That said, footwear that offers proper support can help with any number of chronic pain issues. This includes pain or soreness in your feet, pain on the outsides of your knees, and lower back pain.
The Importance of the Arch
Of all the various parts of your foot, the arch is by far the one that requires the most support. This part of your foot takes most of the load during the walking motion. In fact, for every mile you walk, the arch of your foot absorbs between 200,000 and 300,000 POUNDS of stress.
The arch height of one person can vary greatly from that of another. Not only that, but your arch height will change as you age. As your arches fall, more and more of the energy from walking is absorbed by other parts of your body including your knees, hips, and back. Shoes and boots that properly support your arches during heavy walking can help prevent this pain as well as all sorts of musculoskeletal problems.
The best way to find a boot with the support you need is to try on several different pairs. While boot manufacturers try to accommodate as many foot types as possible, the fit and feel for everyone is going to be different. But many manufacturers make boots for those who have higher arches, low arches, or other small variations in the shape of their feet.
Use Aftermarket Insoles
Sometimes you might need specific boots because of the type of protection they offer. Perhaps you need boots that are non-slip, steel-toe, or non-conductive. These additional requirement can sometimes limit your options when it comes to the type of support available.
In this case you'll want to explore aftermarket insoles made specifically for work boots. These insoles can be inserted into your boots and will offer enhanced support for your heel and/or arches. Insoles are made from a variety of different materials, but are designed to last for 1000s of hours of use.
You can find some of our favorite shoe insoles here. No matter what the shape of your foot, there is an insole designed for you. Not only do they help better support your foot, but they will often start relieving pain within minutes of installing them in your boots.
Perform Foot Exercises
Another way to cut down on foot, knee, and back pain is to strengthen the muscles of your foot. There are specific exercises you can perform at home that will help alleviate pain and improve your posture.
Here is a great exercise for those looking to increase the strength of their arches.
- Place your bare foot on a flat, hard surface with your toes spread out.
- Place a quarter (any coin will do) directly under the ball of your foot. Then place a pencil or pen under the middle of your arch. The end should stick out from the inside of your arch.
- Flex the muscles of your arch. You will feel the muscles in the ball of your foot putting downward pressure on the coin, but you shouldn't be exerting any pressure on the pen. When performed properly make sure you don't roll your foot and avoid pressing down with your toes. Basically keep them relaxed.
After doing this for a week or two you should feel a noticeable difference in your feet. To continue strengthening your arches you can check out these more advanced exercise techniques.
You can also check out this video for help in strengthening fallen arches.
Work On Improving Your Posture
Poor posture can effect us in ways we never imagine. Our bodies are designed to be upright with our hips, spine, neck, and head all in alignment. Certain working conditions can cause a gradual worsening of our posture. This puts pressure on muscles, tendons, and joints that aren't designed to carry certain types of loads.
Pain from walking and standing on concrete all day can be absolute torture. If your job requires you to be on your feet all day long it's imperative that you invest the time to find to find a solution that works for you.