If you’re a cashier, a runner, or a person who works on concrete all day you might be familiar with the common issue known as foot fatigue. Standing or walking for long periods of time can contribute to this condition that causes the muscles in the foot to cramp and feel painful. Though we talk about foot fatigue as a condition, it is more of a general term that refers to cramping, pain, and numbness in the feet and lower legs. These symptoms might have a clinically recognized condition such as plantar fasciitis at their source, but can still be described as foot fatigue.
Anyone can experience foot fatigue but certain activities are more highly associated with foot fatigue than others such as standing for long periods of time and frequent exercise such as running. Being overweight can also be a contributing factor as the weight can add to the strain experienced by the joints in the lower extremities. If you’ve ever come off of a long shift standing on your feet all day at work and have felt pain and discomfort in your feet not just for a moment or two, but for an hour or more, it’s important to rule out other, more serious conditions before assuming it’s just foot fatigue. A trip to the doctor is a great first step.
If it is determined that your symptoms fall into the category of foot fatigue, there are many steps that can be taken to ease your discomfort. The most straightforward way to ease some of these symptoms is to remove the contributing factors by keeping your weight in a normal range, and spending less time on your feet. If you have to stand all day for work, consider changing your position from standing to sitting intermittently throughout the day if possible. If changing the circumstances at work is not an option, you may be able to change the level of pressure being felt by your feet by using a shock-absorbing foam mat or adding inserts into your shoes. Shoe insoles that are made to absorb shock, redistribute pressure, and add cushion will be the most effective. If you experience foot fatigue as an athlete, you may also want to consider shoe inserts to help distribute the pressure as well as review your before and after training routines. Though it is not the only cause, foot fatigue is often an issue for athletes who do not have effective warm up or cool down routines. Strength training may also help athletes and those who must stand all day by preparing the muscles as much as possible for the stress of the activity.
Since foot fatigue is often associated with unavoidable activities such as working, it is important to do what you can to mitigate the problem, since ignoring it could potentially lead to even more issues such as increased pronation (an inward tilt of the feet leading to flat feet), or a higher likelihood of injury, especially in athletes. You can read more about the effects of standing all day here.