Flight Attendants and Foot Pain: 5 Quick Fixes
Posted by Jenn F. on Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Flight attendants are in a class all their own when it comes to foot pain. They’re on their feet all day, first navigating airports, then navigating the tight and unyielding spaces of the airplane. They’re required to walk backwards while pulling heavy carts. They have to schlep bags, stand still for extended periods while the plane is in flight, and balance deftly during turbulence. Add the airline’s dress codes and you have recipe for chronic foot pain, and even debilitating injury. “We’re on our feet 13 hours a day, sometimes six days a week,” said Grace A. Brown, a North Carolina-based flight attendant who has worked for a regional carrier for more than four years. So how can flight attendants protect their feet while still maintaining their stylish image? Keep reading.
1. Flats, Flats, Flats. Fortunately for flight attendants, over the past 5-10 years airline guidelines have become slightly less strict, so while comfortable sneakers are out, sensible supportive shoes are okay, as long as they look appropriately dressy. Still, the image of glamorous, worldly flight attendants persists, especially for women, and for many, heels are the only way to maintain that image. If you have to wear heels (and risk all of the foot ailments that come with them) wear them in the terminal and bring flats for the plane.
2. Avoiding Chronic Stress Injuries. My mother-in-law is a flight attendant and she suffers from chronic capsulitis, an inflammation of the second toe joint, in the forefoot. Every step is painful, and sometimes, by the end of her shifts, she’s in tears. This, and other chronic stress foot problems (stress fractures, tendonitis, bursitis, etc.) won’t heal unless you change your habits, or your shoes. As soon as you start to feel pain, do something about it. Don’t wait for an annoying problem to become something chronic.
3. Never, Ever Dismiss Foot Pain. Just to reiterate my point above, many professionals accept nagging foot pain as an inevitable part of the job. Foot pain should never be inevitable. If you value your feet, and your job, visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine right away.
4. Visit the Podiatrist for Foot Orthotics. Foot orthotics can transform most types of shoes into supportive, comfortable, healthy footwear. They’re designed, by a doctor, to correct specific problems with your foot. For example, orthotics can slow down the progression of bunions. If you overpronate, orthotics can help provide stability If you have pain from a neuroma or metatarsalgia, an orthotic with a metatarsal bump can help diffuse some of the pain. Whatever your particular foot problem, chances are good orthotics can provide significant relief.
5. Stabilizing Knees to Help the Feet. We often hear about knee pain resulting from a foot problem or injury but knee pain can cause foot injuries too. If your knee is affecting your gait, making you adjust to compensate, your feet (and hips, for that matter) will suffer. Wear a knee brace, or seek treatment for knee pain to protect your entire lower body.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.