Caring for Your Feet, Knees, and Back
Tips To Stay Healthy on the Job
Whether it's a reset, remodel, or new store set up, retail merchandising can be a laborious task. Between carrying materials, assembling shelves, and cleaning your work area, the physical demands can take a toll on your body. But it's critical to remember that preserving your body is of the utmost importance, especially your feet, knees, and back. These are your assets—the reasons why you're skilled merchandisers—so you have to treat them as such.
Fortunately, there are several actions you can take to minimize the strain on your body and, in turn, maintain your ability to earn income. Most importantly, however, is your ability to lead a happy and healthy life. With that said, here are some tips to get you started.
How to take care of your feet.
1. Good shoes!
Believe me when I say, nothing is worse than sore feet. Okay, maybe there are some worse things in life, but having sore feet is definitely near the top of the list. Luckily, the solution to aching feet is simple—good shoes! Finding a comfortable, supportive, and sturdy shoe will enable you to work on your feet all day with zero aches or pains.
2. Arch support is everything.
Don’t have flat feet! When buying those supportive new kicks, be sure they have enough arch support. Why? Because arch support prevents overpronation, which means your feet roll inward when walking, and the arch of your foot begins to flatten. Consequently, this can make you more susceptible to foot injuries. Moreover, arch support supports the joints throughout your body as you walk, including your spine, knees, and ankles.
3. Protect your toes.
It may seem like common sense but always wear steel-toe shoes. When your toes are exposed, you run the risk of dropping something heavy on them, which may result in severe damage. By wearing steel-toe shoes, you can rest assured knowing that your toes will be safe for the entirety of the workday. Just try not to stub them when you get home!
4. It's all about tread.
Grip is essential when doing anything on your feet. Think about it…walking is nearly impossible on a slippery surface. So why not give yourself the optimal grip on your feet? To do so, make sure you’re wearing relatively new shoes so that the tread on the bottom of the shoe is still intact and capable of providing satisfactory grip. If you’ve had your shoes for quite some time, occasionally check the tread to prevent any slips.
How to take care of your knees.
1. More trips, lighter loads.
“Work smart, not hard.” You’ve likely heard this phrase a thousand times, but it’s true! When we work strategically instead of strenuously, the result is less strain on our bodies. Making more trips of lighter loads when transporting materials is a terrific example of strategic work. Yes, it may take a couple of extra minutes to make those trips, but your knees will thank you in the long run. Lighter loads will alleviate the pressure on your knees, and in turn, cause less damage.
2. Protect your knees.
Most projects require you to work on your knees, even if it’s only for a few minutes. So, show up prepared! Wearing knee braces or bringing appropriate padding will make working on your knees much more bearable. And in the long run, doing so will help preserve your knees, as well. Here’s a cheap pair of knee pads, but if you want to save even more money, one suggestion is to bring a thick towel or blanket to place below your knees.
3. Hit the gym.
Exercise is the cornerstone of healthy living, so it only makes sense that working out does wonders for your knees. In particular, it's crucial to strengthen the muscles around your knees, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and abductors. In doing so, these muscles will provide greater support and minimize the amount of strain placed on your knees. And while we suggest you "hit the gym," there are actually several leg exercises you can do without leaving your living room. Check them out here.
4. Good shoes...again!
We can't stress this enough; a sturdy pair of shoes is absolutely essential. Not only is supportive footwear beneficial to your feet, but it's paramount in maintaining healthy knees. Part of selecting the right shoe is finding a pair that matches the shape of your foot. It's also essential to make sure the insoles of your shoes provide enough support and comfort. Each of these factors is paramount in limiting the amount of strain placed on your joints when walking. Click here for information.
How to take care of your back.
1. Bend at the knees, not at the waist.
Weight lifting 101; lift with your legs, not your back. This means bending at the knees when you attempt to lift a heavy object instead of straining the muscles in your lower back. This way, you can avoid unnecessary damage to the muscles that support your spine. You’ll also find that lifting with your legs will strengthen those muscles around your knees, killing two birds with one stone.
2. Never stand with locked knees.
Believe it or not, standing with your knees locked can be detrimental to your spine. Doing so causes the curve in your lower back to become exaggerated and, in turn, the muscles around the spine begin to over contract. Consequently, you’ll experience pain in your lower back and find it challenging to engage your core. However, when you stand with a slight bend in your knees, it relieves the strain on your lower back.
Fun fact: Standing with locked knees often causes people to faint because it cuts off blood circulation.
3. Strengthen your core.
Your back and your core are constantly working in tandem to carry the weight of your body. So, when your core isn’t holding up its end of the bargain, your back is forced to pick up the slack. As a result, the muscles around your spine become strained, and you are susceptible to further complications. Fortunately, you can ease back pain—and avoid it altogether—by strengthening your abdominal muscles. Here are ten simple core exercises you can do from the comfort of your home.
4. Practice good posture.
Thanks to our parents and many nagging teachers, most of us hate hearing about posture. But, the truth is, they were right—good posture is an essential aspect of our physical wellbeing. When hunched over for prolonged periods of time, your back can become strained and painful, reducing blood flow to your spine and developing stiffness in your lower back. By practicing good posture, such as keeping your back straight, your spine is able to support your body weight without unnecessary strain. Here are some tips for straightening up your spine.
You don’t have to be a yogi to understand the benefits of stretching, especially concerning your back. Tight muscles in your lower back reduce your range of motion, which is often a catalyst for muscle strains and other complications. By stretching for just a few minutes each day, you reduce the risk of suffering back injuries. Stretching also helps current back injuries heal faster, but remember to take it slow! Here are some simple stretches you can do to preserve and heal the muscles around your spine.