Before you step into your next footwear, things to consider.

Everyone has different feet; some people even have significant differences between their own feet. Wearers can feel incredibly isolated and we’ve heard many stories about people going home, unable to stand up and having to take several types of over the counter and prescription medicines. It’s reported that as many of 8 out of 10 people suffer prolonged foot problems in their adult lives.

Foot pains are often the unreported LTI (lost time incidents) for employers. In 2016, Yorkshire Water released figures that stress risk assessments and early treatment referrals for stress and musculoskeletal problems have saved the company at least £800,000 in lost time and other costs.

Wearing the correct footwear for you reduces the effects of: Plantar Fasciitis, Fatigue, Achilles tendonitis, Pronation/supination instabilities and Back and knee pain. But what are these conditions:

Plantar Fasciitis:

Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia). Plantar Fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning. As you get up and move more, the pain normally decreases, but it might return after long periods of standing or after rising from sitting. Under normal circumstances, your Plantar Fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot. If tension and stress on that bowstring become too great, small tears can arise in the Fascia.

To prevent this, you want to offer the correct arch support to distribute body weight over the whole of the foot and not just the heel and met heads, reducing the pressure through both sections of the foot.

correct arch support

Achilles Tendonitis:

The Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of the ankle, it connects the large calf muscles to the heel bone. Just like joints, the Achilles tendon is also subject to ‘wear and tear’ or ‘degeneration’ and can result in an Achilles tendinopathy. Anything which places increased stress on the Achilles tendon can cause symptoms. There are several causes, which include:

  • Poor ankle/foot biomechanics;
  • Poor conditioning – weakness and or tightness of the calf muscles;
  • Overuse injury.

To prevent this, you want to purchase footwear that will cup, cushion and support the Achilles tendon to reduce the strain and pressure on it.

Pronation and Supination:

Pronation refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. A moderate amount of pronation is required for the foot to function properly, however, damage and injury can occur during excessive or overpronation. When overpronation does occur the foot arch flattens out and stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments underneath the foot.

Supination (or under-pronation) is the opposite of pronation and refers to the outward roll of the foot during normal motion. A natural amount of supination occurs during the push-off phase of the running gait as the heel lifts off the ground and the forefoot and toes are used to propel the body forward. However, excessive or over supination (outward rolling) places a large strain on the muscles and tendons that stabilise the ankle and can lead to the ankle rolling completely over, resulting in an ankle sprain or total ligament rupture.

This, along with plantar fasciitis are the two most common problems.

When untreated – it causes weaknesses and muscular imbalances that are often managed with pain relief and other creams or gels.

Pronation and Supination

For people with balanced feet, that have a medium or average arch within the safe range of pronation and supination a regular pair of safety footwear with a good quality cushioned footbed will enable them to work whilst standing for a normal 8-10 hour day without any major problems.

If wearers have foot imbalances, high or low arches and/or excessive pronation or supination they will need to take more care in the choices they make or are given. Presale and aftersales services are available from footwear manufacturers, for instance, Rock Fall deliver the Activ-Step® 3 Feet Footscan service which takes less than a minute and gives wearers the appropriate arch support footbed for their individual feet. Like all Activ-Step® Footbeds, they have been specifically designed for industrial workplaces and include anti-static stitching and tape for product assurances purposes.

They also have the Activ-Step® Custom Footwear service which enables wearers to have adaptations to existing footwear or be measured for a bespoke pair. Foot assessments take around 1 hour and qualified podiatrists assess the wearer’s needs in a relaxed session taking them through all aspects of foot health and foot care as well as a full foot assessment before a detailed report and recommendation are made.

For further information please contact your local Greenham Service Centre.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Greenham Pulse is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Greenham Pulse is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.