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Avoid Foot Injuries in the Workplace

If your feet do not have the correct support – or glide backwards and forwards in your shoes – they can easily suffer abnormal strain. This results in you tensing the muscles and tendons in your feet abnormally. In the long term, this can result in injury to your knees, hips and back

Foot problems often develop slowly and insidiously. And the potential for foot problems increases with age. Typical foot problems are skin and toenail complaints, pain, and injuries due to abnormal stresses and strains.

Foot, knee and back injuries account for the majority of sick days.
In other words, the right safety shoes make a great difference.

Lars Eghamn, orthopaedic engineer

The foot has a tough job to do, and there is a lot that can go wrong. Foot problems can be crippling and often very painful. But don't worry; we've listed the most common workplace foot injuries and how to treat them.

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Under the heel there is a fat pad that acts as a cushion. Inside the heel there is a small fat pad enclosed by tissue to hold together the heel and give maximum cushioning during walking or running. If the fat pad is compressed due to heavy loads the fatty tissue will slide laterally and the cushioning effect is reduced. This is what we refer to as heel spurs.
A heel spur can be detected on an x-ray and it looks like a bone projection. The projection often develops in conjunction with an inflammation of the plantar fascia. A clear sign of a compressed fat cushion on the heel is cracks on the back of the heel.

Check your work shoes and make sure it offers stability to your heel. Relieve pressure on the heel with a cushioning insole. Examine the appearance of the foot; what does the arch look like? Is there excessive pronation? A customized insole with correct arch support will help to distribute pressure more evenly to whole foot area and diminish the pressure on heel. Rub the heel and the tender area. If the pain persists, consult an expert.


The toes are not only involved in pushing off a step, but together with the ligaments maintain the shape of the transversal arch at the start of the toe joints. When the muscles and ligaments are not holding up the arch, there is a lowering of the forefoot arch, resulting in the nerve between the third and fourth toe being squeezed between the toe bones.
This means that at each step persistent pain may be experienced. To raise the forefoot arch, the insole must be supplemented with a forefoot cushion (pad) which helps to raise the arch. There is often nerve entrapment in combination with excessive pronation.

Check the foot arch and movement (pronation) of your foot so your insole provides the correct arch support. Consult an expert if the pain does not subside after three weeks.


Ankle sprain is by far the most common injury suffered by athletes, but it is also very common to sprain your foot in the workplace. It is very easy to sprain one’s ankle when working on uneven or slippery surfaces.
Pain and swelling in and around the ankle, usually on the outside with discolouration.

Apply pressure and cool together with elevation. Further treatment with gradual increase in motion, strength, balance and coordination training. A balance board is a good tool for rehabilitation. Taping and ankle support can be used on return to activity and work. Check the stability of your work shoes and consider shoe alternatives with added support in the ankle.


Soreness and swelling indicate an inflamed Achilles tendon. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon can occur when working out in chilly weather, training on hard surfaces, wearing a different trainer or running uphill. If thickening of the Achilles tendon occurs there is a risk of chronic Achilles tendonitis, which may require surgery later. If the Achilles tendon is already showing signs of thickening, you should contact a doctor or physiotherapist.
Athletes who have high arches have a greater risk of Achilles tendonitis, and also those who do not stretch the Achilles tendon before and after training.

Refrain from activity if the pain becomes more intense. Inflammation should be managed by massaging or other rehabilitation measures. Try to choose another activity for a while, such as swimming or cycling. Stretching the calf muscle and Achilles tendon is always recommended.


By strain injury one means that the foot has been used improperly for a long time, i.e., you have a so-called incorrect biomechanical posture. Hard surfaces and repetitive working movements are often the cause of the injuries although there has been a considerable improvement in recent years. This is due to improved ergonomic footwear and the fact that businesses and occupational health policies are better at preventing injury by ensuring that employees have the right safety footwear.

For strain injuries one resorts to orthopaedic techniques using individually customized cushions that relieve sore areas and correct faulty foot posture.

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