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WORKING WOMEN SPENDING SIGNIFICANT TIME ON THEIR FEET STAND TO PAY THE PRICE
Quarterly Foot Comfort Index™ Explores Women’s Lower Body Health and Repercussions They Face in America’s Workforce
FootSmart, the country’s leading retailer of foot health products and comfort footwear, releases key findings from its Foot Comfort Index™ that show one in three women working fulltime spend more than 6 hours a day on their feet, putting them at an increased risk for foot conditions such as bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, swollen feet and other foot issues. The FootSmart Foot Comfort Index™ is a research-based initiative addressing lifestyle choices, behaviors and conditions affecting foot comfort, foot health and shoe selection. Partnering with Crestwood Associates, FootSmart surveyed 1,200 women from the general population, ages 35 and up. Published quarterly, the Index offers a quantitative look at the condition of women’s feet and the psychological and physical changes they go through as a result of wear and tear on one of the body’s most complex parts, the foot.
“This is more than poor decision making as it relates to footwear. This is a workplace epidemic facing American businessestoday. Each year, there are as many as 120,000 work-related foot injuries and about 2 million sick days taken because of leg and foot disorders. We tend to think of teachers, flight attendants and nurses as the professions suffering from job-related foot pain, but it extends to corporate America as well,” says Alan Beychok, president and CEO of Benchmark Brands, parent company of FootSmart. “In fact, more than a quarter of long‐term sickness absences reported by women can be attributed to working mainly standing or squatting, and lifting or carrying loads. Long-term sickness and absenteeism both take a major toll on business productivity and by sharing these findings, we hope to encourage workplaces to re-examine their dress codes and for women to rethink their predisposition to choosing fashion over stylish comfort footwear.”
The Consequences Women Face
According to the FootSmart Foot Comfort Index, the career field in which working women report having the worse foot problems is the Service Industry, with 73 percent noting some form of foot issue or pain. Other fields notably contributing to women’s foot problems include Healthcare (70 percent), Retail (69 percent), Manufacturing (68 percent) and Education (68 percent). The survey found women in Clerical fields seem to take the most risks with their heel heights, with 43 percent opting for 2-inch or higher heels. This group also showed the largest disparity in heel heights with 35 percent choosing heels of 1- 1 ½ inches and 22 percent opting for a heel of less than 1 inch.
Additionally, the survey discovered that the number of hours a woman spends on her feet dictates, to a certain degree, the heel height she chooses. Of women who spend 6 or more hours on their feet, 71 percent choose heels of 1 ½ inches or less, while 20 percent opt for wearing heels higher than 2 inches, putting them at an increased risk for foot conditions such as bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, swollen feet, heel pain (also known as Plantar Fasciitis), and ball of foot pain.
The Toll on Business Productivity and Profitability
The severity of foot injuries in the workplace can range from blisters and calluses to fractures and damaged joints. For reasons stemming from office buildings being built with concrete floors, to employees purchasing ill-fitting shoes for the sake of fashion, full time American working women tend to view foot problems as less serious than other ailments, making them less likely to seek treatment than they would for other health issues. This creates a slippery slope leading to sick days and work-related injuries, which ultimately makes business less productive and in turn, less profitable.
“The implications of this epidemic can be felt across an insurmountable number of industries, and solutions are available. A simple reassessment in dress codes to allow for more comfortable, supportive footwear, may result in a decrease of pay-outs of medical care as employees become more cognizant in the health of their feet, ankles, legs, knees, lower extremities and backs,” adds Beychok.
Key Q3 2012 FootSmart Foot Comfort Index™ Highlights
- Fulltime working women age 35 and up spend an average of 3.4 hours a day on their feet.
- 31 percent of women working fulltime spend more than 6 hours a day on their feet. Of these, 18 percent actually spend 8 hours or more on their feet per day.
- 73 percent of women working outside the home, who spend 4 hours or more on their feet, report suffering from some form of foot issue or discomfort. This figure drops to 56 percent for women standing 3 hours or less per day.
- 44 percent of women who spend 6 or more hours on their feet surprisingly choose heels of 1-1 ½ inches in height, versus lower heels or flats.
- 73 percent of women in Clerical fields suffer from some form of foot problem. Figure drops to 40 percent for those in Food Service or Lodging professions.
- 30 percent of women working 6 hours or more on their feet per day suffer from swollen feet. Other foot pains this group reports include heel pain/Plantar Fasciitis (24 percent), ball of foot pain (22 percent), arch pain (16 percent), and bunion pain (8 percent).
“Womentodaydon’t have to settle for painful, unhealthy footwear for the sake of fashion or professionalism. They have a say in the degree of comfort they enjoy, and FootSmart offers thousands of options to help achieve these goals. Many brands, including Aerosoles and SoftSpots for dress shoes and Dansko and Nurse Mates for occupational styles, design stylish work-appropriate footwear that does not sacrifice support, traction or cushioning. Another option for working women to consider is shoe insoles, which provide cushioning and shock absorption while helping prevent the degeneration of bone joints and bone structure while on your feet,” states Meredith Latham, vice president, Comfort-ology for Benchmark Brands. “As the foot health and foot comfort outfitter, FootSmart offers over 100 of the leading comfort brands and foot health and pain-relieving products to help keep people moving in comfort.”