When I was in my teens and 20s, I worked as a waitress at a local restaurant. The job allowed me to make extra money on the weekends and ample opportunity to flirt with cute customers. But now I'm beginning to think that the job may have been the catalyst for my bunions and hammer toe.
I'll be the first to admit that my love of stilettos probably played a part in the development of my foot pain, but research consistently shows that people with occupations that require long-term standing or walking are more likely to develop problems like bunions, hammer toe and fallen arches.
The New York Post recently reported on the issue, talking to a number of professionals for whom foot pain has become just another occupational hazard. One man, a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said he experienced sharp back pain, while a Brooklyn doorman complained of muscles that stiffen and lock after a long shift.
Bob Schwartz, owner of a shoe store that specializes in comfortable footwear, told the news source that these types of occupations can cause a number of conditions, including bunions, nerve swelling and plantar fasciitis, among other chiropractic issues.
"Gravity pulls us toward the ground, so as we get older there’s often curvature of the spine and tightness of the neck and head," said Schwartz, quoted by the news source.
Other experts recommended that people who work on their feet use their breaks to take a short walk, as this stretches muscles and may reduce fatigue. Additionally, wearing supportive, well-fitted shoes may help ease pain, and high-top sneakers can provide ankle stability.
If and when bunions develop, workers are wise not to ignore them. According to Harvard Medical School researchers, bunions form at a "critical junction" in the foot, meaning that they can have a substantial impact on a person's mobility. Additionally, experts from the school recommend trying conservative methods of bunion correction, which include wearing shoes that have enough space in the toe box, padding bunions, icing the feet and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Many people have also found relief in using bunion splints or orthotics. These devices work by providing support where it's needed and by holding the big toe straight, which may prevent bunions from advancing.