Long days on your feet often come with the job in the meeting industry, leading to pain and discomfort in the heels, arches and toes.
But the good news is, you can protect your peds with a little planning. Consider the five tips I swear by when I get ready for on-the-go press trips or working in conference booths.
1. Stretch Before and After the Event
Stretching your feet and legs before and after a long day can prevent and reduce foot pain. Do dynamic stretches—like lunges or other active motions that warm up and loosen joints and muscles—before standing all day to reduce stiffness and pain. A yoga session, or even doing a few yoga poses can also help before and after a long day on your feet.
- Increases blood flow to your muscles, which can lessen soreness and shorten recovery time.
- Can help with posture.
- Can increase your range of motion, which can prevent injury such as back pain, a common result of standing for a long time.
Heather Reid, founder and CEO of Planner Protect, Inc. shared a stretching tip for the end of a day on your feet: “Put your legs straight up on a wall for 15 minutes at the end of the day. It will be uncomfortable but will help tremendously through the night.”
2. Drink Water
It seems simple, but drinking water prevents dehydration—and dehydration can cause muscle soreness. However, it can be tough to remember to drink enough water in the days leading up to your event, especially when you're running around preparing last minute details.
And the day of? It might feel like you don't even have time for a sip!
We’ve heard that adults need eight glasses (64 ounces) of water a day. That recommendation depends on the person, physical activity and whatever else you consume that day. Mayo Clinic recommends that men drink 125 ounces of fluids and women 91 ounces a day.
Fluids can include water, nonalcoholic beverages and high-water-content foods.
One way to keep track of water consumption is to invest in a reusable bottle, especially one that has measurements on it.
Many venues and event centers allow staff and event personnel to carry personal water bottles. It's cheaper and more sustainable than purchasing plastic, single-use bottles all day!
Another tip: Alcohol consumption can make you more dehydrated, so even if hitting the bar after a long day on your feet might sound appealing, it could hinder muscle recovery and cause more soreness. If you do choose to indulge, make sure to hydrate before, during and after.
3. Remember Diet and Supplements
According to Mayo Clinic, a deficiency in minerals such as potassium, calcium or magnesium can contribute to leg cramps.
“I highly suggest eating a banana daily. The potassium helps with eliminating leg cramps,” said Jen Bissett, corporate sales manager at Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale in Ontario, Canada.
Potassium-rich foods include:
- Cooked spinach
- Beans and legumes
Foods high in magnesium include:
- Whole wheat foods
- Nuts like almonds, cashews and peanuts
- Dark chocolate
You can also consider daily supplements to ensure you’re getting enough of these minerals. Talk to your doctor about which supplements might benefit you.
Julie Browning, global planner and sourcing specialist, offers an unusual suggestion that might be familiar to runners: "If you get a cramp, you can even drink pickle juice (which has both potassium and magnesium) for fast relief!”
4. Wear the Right Gear
The importance of good equipment can make all the difference when you’re on your feet for many hours. I wrote an article about smart shoe choices for event planners and got a lot of feedback on how the right shoes can make all the difference.
“Try to never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row, working from highest to lowest heel height,” Browning advised.
In addition to wearing comfortable shoes, seeing a podiatrist and investing in custom orthotics or inserts can also help alleviate foot, leg and back pain. If you have lingering foot pain, see a doctor or specialist to relieve discomfort and ensure you don't have lasting damage.
[Related Content: 9 Self-Care Tips to Maintain Your Sanity at Conferences]
“Custom orthotics help. Toeless compression socks and acupuncture are great when plantar fasciitis flares up,” said Monique Louvigny, a freelance event planner and offsite event support provider. “I usually rotate between two or three pairs of shoes during a really long day and then plunge my feet in an ice bath at the end of the day.”
Elizabeth, Sim Zielinski, CMM and independent planner, has another suggestion: Look into medical grade compression stockings.
They make thigh-high stockings that look as good as panty hose.
“They are a game changer! Not cheap, but very durable. Take those puppies off at the end of the day and it’s almost like you weren’t abusing your legs,” she said.
5. Use a Roller: Frozen and Foam
“Roll your feet against an ice-cold soda can during the day helps,” said Joan Eisenstodt of Eisenstodt Assocs., LLC, regarding leg cramps and foot pain.
“I keep two bottles of water frozen. When I get home, I roll them under my feet to help with the swelling,” shared Julie Browning.
“For really painful feet when you’re on the road, you can get ice, add water and give your feet and icebath for at least 20 minutes for each foot,” Browning added. “And a foot massage! Even if you have to do it yourself, it will help. The key is to get the blood circulating.”
Danielle LeBreck, Meetings Today’s Lead Destinations Content Strategist, who ran the Boston Marathon this year, suggests using a foam roller to help with leg discomfort. “A foam roller is my calves’ best friend when I’m training for something. And they are pretty cheap on Amazon.”
Do you have other tips and recommendations for those long days on your feet? Share them with your fellow meeting and event planners in the comments section below!