Flat Feet

Girl is having neck and back pain during working at the desk

Avoiding Neck And Back Pain At Your Desk

Does this sound familiar? You have been sitting at your desk at work in the same position for what seems to have been forever. All of a sudden you move, and then you hear them. As if on cue, your cervical vertebra from C2-C7 start their cranky chorus. As you gently shift, popping and cracking sounds emit from the bottom of your skull all the way down your spine, leaving you drained. Mother always told us to sit up straight, but after hours in front of a computer screen, your posture may not be the first things on your minds. Imbalance in your back and neck may lead to discomfort and, while some may swear by joint cracking, here are some options that may be a bit more civilized.

  • Desk Set Up
    The people at your office should provide you with a comfortable chair and well-placed keyboard tray. The positioning of screens, printers, and the mouse should all be considered and adjusted appropriately to the worker. For employees suffering from work related back and neck pain, some employers will offer standing desks, or will purchase desktop converters that enable the employee to switch between a standing and sitting desk as the day progresses.
  • Sitting Position
    When you are sitting at your desk, make sure your feet are flat on the floor and that your seat allows your thighs to slightly angle downward. This will concentrate your weight on your “sitting bones” and not your lower back and shoulders.
  • Keyboard Tray
    Make sure that when you aren’t forced to slump when you touch the keys. The keyboard should be elevated so that your shoulders don’t sag when your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle. If the tray is not adjustable, put the keyboard on your desk. In addition, make sure the mouse and drafting pad is at the same height as the keyboard.
  • Adjusting Your Monitor
    The bottom of your computer monitor should be aligned to your chin. Computer monitors tend to be too low, leading to the inevitable hunch. You may want to adjust the screen slightly depending on the height of the monitor. Just make sure you can look straight at your screen.
  • Limit Your Use Of Cell Phones And Emails
    You are more likely to develop upper back and neck pain when using a tablet or cell phone answer emails. If you want the best results for maintaining good posture, stick to working with an actual computer.
  • Walk Around
    Get up and stretch every half hour or so. If you are the type that gets very absorbed in your work, you may want to set an alarm clock to remind you that it’s time to move. Remember that discomfort can have a negative effect on the quality of work, so take one for the team and take a moment to uncoil.
Man working on a laptop at beach

Keeping Your Feet Comfy At Work

The results are in.  According to a study done by scientists at the Universite de Bretagne-Sud, men respond much more willingly to women in high heels. Women who dropped their gloves on the street were 50% more likely to have a  man deliver it back to her if she was wearing heels. A man is  twice as likely to answer questions posed to him on the street if the asker is in heels.  Women in heels are picked up at bars twice as quickly, their flat- wearing companions.  Does this extend to the workplace?  Are men more likely to respond to demands made by women in the workplace if the woman is in heels?  Many women feel empowered by high heels and find them to be a very useful weapon in the male dominated workplace.  Others consider them a source of discomfort or as reinforcement of stereotypes in which women are viewed as sex objects.  Well, whether vehemently opposed or willing to use any means necessary, we can all agree that heels are not the most comfortable option for feet at work.  So let’s explore some ways we can keep our feet more comfortable, in heels or not.

The Workplace
You have a right to comfort in your place of employment!

  •  The workplace should provide the worker with the option of sitting or standing while working.  If the work cannot be done sitting, a seat should be  made available for breaks.
  •  Foot rails should be provided to allow the employee to shift weight from one leg to the other.
  •  The workspace should provide ample room for the worker to change body positions and adjustable work surfaces should be provided to accommodate people of all heights.

Buying Comfy Footwear
When buying shoes, try and look for the following:

  • The shoes’ inner side should form a straight line beginning at the heel and ending at the big toe.
  • The shoe should not slip off your heel. (Use heel grips if this happens)
  • Your toes should be able to move freely.
  • The shoe should have a wide based, low heel.
  • Buy shoes in the afternoon when feet are at their most swollen.
  • Don’t expect shoes will stretch.  (This is the lie of attractive footwear)

Helpful Tips
If you do find yourself unable to stay away from those lethal heels, here are some tips that might be help keep you elevated and comfy at the same time.

  •  Use medical tape to bind your third toe and fourth toe together. This will help to relieve pressure on the ball of your feet.
  • Apply clear gel deodorant to prevent blisters.  Put it on the parts of the shoes that are tightest to stop the friction.
  •  Have the heels shortened.  Don’t try this at home, but a professional can take up to 1″ off the heels without altering the look noticeably.
  • Put moleskin on tight straps.
  • Widen the toes of your shoes. Fill a plastic baggy with water and insert them in the toes of your shoes.  Place them in a freezer and voila!

Of course, you don’t need heels to perform well in the workplace, but if you find the added height brings the extra confidence you need, you don’t have to suffer with discomfort.  With some savvy and some know how, you can solve all your orthopedic woes.

Woman having back pain

The Connection Between Your Feet and Back Pain

Whether you sang “Dem Bones” or “The Skeleton Dance,” there is a good chance that at some point in your life you sang a song about how the bones in your body are all connected, but at the time, it probably meant little to you. Your body truly is built of connected bones, systems, tissues, nerves and cells that keep you breathing, eating and moving. When you have pain in one area of your body, but you don’t remember injuring that part of your body, you may be experiencing what is known as radiating pain. Your back and your feet are quite a bit more connected than you may think, and the foot pain you feel may have nothing to do with your foot, just as the back pain you experience may have nothing to do with your back.

Orthotics
The field of foot care is expanding, and one of the most buzzed-about areas of medical care for the feet is orthotics. Once associated with less than fashionable shoes, orthotics has embraced new technological advances, and now you can wear foot correcting devices without anyone even knowing. Custom-made insoles are now being widely used to treat a variety of abnormalities and deformities of the feet.

Why Orthotics?
Your feet have 26 bones and 33 joints, all of which work constantly to provide your entire body with support. You may not pay much attention to them, but you might want to start. “Feet are fairly delicate structures, damage may be painless in the foot but felt elsewhere in the body,” says British podiatrist, Simon Costain of the Gait and Posture Centre. One of the most common foot conditions is flat feet, or collapsed foot arches. Flat feet can be caused by genetics or by the weakening of your feet muscles due to things like wearing heels or weight gain. You may feel little to no pain in your feet when you have flat feet – in fact, you may not even know you do have flat feet – but you may experience pain in other areas of your body like your lower back or knees.

Orthotics help correct problems, relieving pain in both your back and your feet, and they improve your gait as well. This is important because a shift in your foot while standing or walking may be all it takes to change the alignment of your spine, which can result in the tightening of muscles in your legs, buttocks and back. Muscle tightening may continue to elicit back pain, and even if you don’t feel a thing on your feet, they could be the culprit. True orthotics are custom-made and provided by a medical professional, but there are off-the-shelf alternatives as well.

Because your feet take such a beating on a daily basis, it’s important to pay attention to them and give them the care they deserve. Left untreated, foot problems can create pain elsewhere in the body, particularly in the lower back. With the help of your doctor and orthotics, you could be able to completely correct your gait and experience relief from pain.