Foot Care Tips for Teachers

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Working in schools is a unique environment for footwear: Teachers and education professionals are on their feet all day – standing in front of the classroom, monitoring recess, and taking students up and down halls and stairways – yet, in most schools, professionals wear dress shoes daily.

Dress shoes are not always designed for this type of wear. However, the tips below will help you stay on your feet from the first bell to the last.

Tips for keeping your feet healthy in dress shoes

  • Proper fit. Both male and female teachers should look for shoes that are wide enough for their feet and with enough room in the toe area to allow for movement. Arch support and shock absorption will help with all of that time spent standing. A firm heel counter will keep the heel from moving too much within the shoe. Open back and slingback shoes do not provide as much support as styles with a full heel. Socks should also fit to avoid cramping your toes or bunching that can lead to blisters.

  • Wear socks and shoes made from natural materials that allow your feet to breathe.

  • Slip-resistant shoes are essential, as students often track elements from outdoors into halls and classrooms. Plus, younger students are known to spill during snack time!

  • Take your time breaking in new shoes. Leather dress shoes, in particular, may start stiff and stretch after you’ve worn them a few times. However, don’t dedicate one day, or one extended walking session, to breaking in your shoes. Trying to wear new shoes for a full day of teaching, including running after kids on the playground, is likely to lead to pain and blisters. Instead, wear new shoes a bit at a time – for example, walking around the house or running quick errands – so that they loosen naturally.

  • Consider orthotics to provide you with support tailored to your feet.

  • Replace worn-out shoes. Shock absorbency decreases when shoes have been worn for a long time, meaning old shoes offer little to no protection for your feet.

  • Rotating which shoes you wear gives your other pairs time to air out. Shoe trees help speed this process along and keep your shoes in shape. Try wearing shoes every other day, or ideally every third day. An added benefit to this method is giving your dress shoes a longer life!

  • If you experience foot perspiration, consider using foot powder. It prevents perspiration and keeps your feet dry, helping you avoid athlete’s foot.

  • Consider using an anti-fatigue mat in areas of the classroom where you stand frequently. This may be in front of the whiteboard or behind your desk. We understand that this may not apply to primary school teachers or administrators, who are moving too frequently for it to be of use, but it could work well for middle and high school teachers.

  • Rest your feet at home. Elevate, soak, massage, and care for your feet so that they can support you for many school days to come.

Two common foot issues for teachers, usually due to unsupportive shoes, are plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of these, or if you have joint or lower back pain after standing in school all day, our physicians are here to help. We have six locations across the West Michigan area, from the Lake Shore to Grand Rapids. Each of our offices offers excellent lower extremity care to patients of all ages, including physical therapy and foot and ankle surgery.