Best Shoes for Teachers on Feet All Day

Most people think of teaching as a mental profession that requires intellectual and cognitive skills, as well as emotional balance and supreme patience. However, teaching is a job that is performed on the feet and is as physically taxing as any other job that requires walking, standing, bending, stooping, and lifting all day. In fact, for many teachers, it is more taxing because they often work in environments designed for children, without equipment scaled to their physical needs.

This makes shoe choice especially important for teachers, who need to wear the right shoes that will guard their health and safety every day, and for years to come. The right shoes will not only prevent pain and injury but working with good body alignment, and physical comfort helps to reduce added stress and distractions, helping teachers concentrate on more important matters. The best shoes for teachers not only help teachers work in comfort and safety but may also help them be even better teachers.

We all know that being a teacher is a demanding job, but we don’t usually think of it as being physically tiring as well as emotionally and mentally challenging. However, most teachers are on their feet all day, and it’s a more physically demanding job than it seems.

Depending on teaching style and subject, a teacher may spend several hours a day standing while delivering a lecture, or walking back and forth in front of a board, with only limited periods of sitting and very little relaxing. And of course, there’s the obligatory pacing around during quizzes, keeping an eye out for cheaters.

While many people think of summer breaks as being a benefit of being a teacher, long holidays can add to the physical strain of the job. If the summer has been spent in relative idleness, then going back to school can also mean a sudden increase in physical activity that can stress and strain the feet and legs. In short, being a teacher is tougher on the feet than you may think.

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Foot Problems Frequently Experienced By Teachers

Foot problems are generally related to the nature of physical activity while teaching, as well as personal body mechanics and individual anatomy. But here are some of the most common foot problems experienced by teachers.

  • Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia that supports the bottom of the foot. However, it is usually experienced as the sharp pain in the heel when bearing weight, particularly after periods of rest. The pain of plantar fasciitis is usually worst in the morning or after being seated for a while and then eases after a few minutes of light movement. Plantar fasciitis is often caused by long-term strain and wears on the foot, so many teachers experience it with age, but it is also often caused by a sudden increase in physical activity after the summer break.

  • Tendonitis

The delicate structures of the foot are held in place by various tendons that can become over-exerted and inflamed. Sesamoiditis is inflammation of the tendons at the base of the big toe and can cause pain in the ball of the foot. The tibialis tendons and the Achilles tendon connect the foot to the muscles of the lower leg and can become stressed and painful. Tendons often become inflamed and painful with overuse and stress, particularly when a teacher wears poorly fitting shoes, or if they have pronated or supinated feet that stress the tendons.

  • Fungal Infections

Fungal infections of the nail and athlete’s foot are common conditions for teachers, especially in humid climates. These kinds of infections are due to excessive moisture inside the shoe for prolonged periods and can be caused by wearing shoes that don’t have adequate breathability, excessive heat, perspiration, humidity, and wearing the same shoes every day without giving them time to thoroughly dry between wearings.

It is important to treat these conditions as soon as possible because they only get worse over time, so teachers should visually check their feet for nail discolorations or skin changes between the toes.

  • Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are veins in the leg that become enlarged and twisted due to poor circulation in the lower body. The heart has to pump blood against gravity to return it to the upper body and relies on the action of the leg muscles to help support that circulation. Long periods of sitting or standing don’t give the veins the movement they need to keep blood circulating properly in the legs, which can cause unsightly and sometimes painful varicose veins. Teachers are at high risk for spider and varicose veins, particularly when they wear high-heeled shoes to work. High heels further restrict the natural motion of the calf muscles and inhibit the ability of the muscles to support circulation.

  • Lower Back Pain

Teachers can experience lower back pain due to a wide range of causes. The nerves of the spinal column are also often the source of “referred pain,” where the brain experiences pain but mis-identifies the source.

Often foot and leg problems cause lower back pain, due to body mechanics, weight distribution, and improper footwear. And teachers experience back pain due to long periods of standing on hard floors, bending over desks, stooping and carrying, and other repetitive actions. In addition, teachers of young children typically spend many hours a week sitting on furniture designed and scaled for children, which stresses the back and knees.

How to Protect Your Health as a Teacher

There are a number of ways that teachers can protect their feet and whole body health without changing their classroom dynamics or teaching style. Here are some ways to take care of yourself as a teacher.

  • Stay Active During Vacations

While it’s important to relax and recover during vacations, try to maintain a moderate level of physical activity. Moderate activity helps to alleviate stress and can ease the transition back to school.

  • Stay Active During The Day

Break up long periods of standing for a lecture or sitting while grading papers with short periods of movement and activity. Walk around the room, or even just flex and relax your feet to promote lower body circulation.

  • Use a Mat or Pad on The Floor

If possible, use a rubber or cork mat to stand on when delivering lectures or walking back and forth in front of the board. Standing and walking on a cushioned surface is much easier on the body than standing on a hard surface.

  • Lift With Care

Practice good body posture when lifting, and avoid overreaching and straining your back.

  • Modify Your Chair & Table Heights

Teachers of young children often sit or squat low to the ground. If possible, use an adult-sized seat that is designed to support you when you sit on the floor or in a low position. If you stand for long periods while lecturing, try to get a chair that can be adjusted to the right height. If possible, use chairs, desks, lecterns, and other equipment that is the right size and scale for your body and that can be used at a comfortable, natural height.

  • Get Good Sleep

Studies show that nearly half of the teachers are routinely sleep deprived. Lack of sleep has a broad range of negative physical and emotional health consequences, particularly when working in a stressful job like teaching. Good sleep is necessary for your body to rebuild and repair damage from stresses and wear during the day, and lack of sleep can contribute to illness and injury.

  • Find Healthy Ways to Manage Stress

Of course, that’s easier said than done, but rather than bottling up or ignoring stress, or letting it affect your happiness and well-being, teachers need to find healthy ways to manage stress. Long-term stress can take an enormous toll on your mental and physical health Meditation, massage, exercise, and self-reflection can all create a more balanced, positive outlook, helping to balance stress and create a more positive work environment.

  • Wear The Proper Shoes

The proper footwear helps to prevent pain and fatigue and eases the physical challenges teachers go through every day.

How to Choose the Best Shoes for Teacher

Here are some features teachers should look for in shoes that are best for their profession

  • Durability

Teachers put a lot of wear and strain on their feet every day, and their shoes need to be able to keep up. Soles should be thick and made of durable materials, and shoes should be stitched instead of glued, for durability, breathability, and flexibility.

  • Ease of Cleaning

Depending on the age of their students, teachers may be working in environments with craft supplies, snacks, and other potential messes. It’s important to have shoes that protect the socks and feet from spills, and are easy to clean.

  • Support

A teacher’s shoes should provide excellent support through the arch of the feet, to ease pressure on the plantar fascia and prevent excess stress and injury. Look for an insole that meets and cradles the arch of your foot, providing gentle resistance when you put your weight down.

  • Cushioning

The shoe should cushion and protect the feet from standing and walking on hard surfaces all day long. Look for springy, resistant soles, and cushioning on the inside of the shoe.

  • Comfort

A teacher should not be managing foot pain while trying to do their job. Pain adds stress and distraction that impairs performance and focus. Shoes should be comfortable, even when they are new.

  • Teacher Style

Some schools and some teachers have expectations about what kind of footwear is appropriate in the classroom. Many schools have dress codes that govern what kind of shoe teachers can wear, and each teacher makes decisions about how they want to present themselves in the classroom.

While expectations vary widely, teachers are expected to dress appropriately and not make clothing choices that are too daring or distracting for students. When in doubt, “business casual” is the safest choice, but it often depends on the school, the age of the students, and the expectations of administrators.

Teachers should also be aware that their fashion choices are being noted by other teachers, students, parents, and administrators. While style and presentation are important, it should not merit compromising your physical health and well-being, so make sure that your shoes meet all your physical as well as your style requirements.

Conclusion

Teaching is a difficult job that can stress the body, mind, and emotions. In fact, teaching is a more physically demanding job than it often seems, performed in environments that are not always ergonomically designed for adult occupational health and safety. In addition to being an inherently stressful occupation, teachers also need to meet the expectations of a school dress code and present a professional image to students and parents.

All of these factors combine to often have teachers wearing shoes that don’t fully support their long-term health in the workplace.

The best shoes for teachers meet all these complex needs, providing stability, support, and comfort in order to prevent strain and injury. Wearing shoes that are comfortable and supportive also reduces a teacher’s stress and distraction. Teachers need to wear shoes that guard their long-term health and productivity, allowing them to focus on the more important aspects of one of the most important jobs.

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