Cashiers Stand Up for Their Right to Sit Down: Foot Pain at the Pharmacy
Posted by Jenn F. on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
CVS was the target of a lawsuit in June for preventing their workers from sitting down on the job. I’ve been following this story closely, ever since I witnessed a CVS employee getting berated for sitting in one of the pharmacy’s waiting area chairs. It’s company policy that workers be standing at all times—serving customers, stocking, cleaning and more—but at what cost? As regular readers of this blog will know, constant standing is never good for the feet. It can result in all sorts of overuse injuries, from heel spurs to bunions. CVS claims it could not “maintain its commitment to excellent customer service” if its employees were seated, but what about its commitment to healthy employees?
While employees suing other stores have been victorious—judges ruled in favor of seatless employees at Home Depot and 99 Cents Only—CVS employees haven’t been so lucky. The result: you won’t be seeing CVS workers sitting down any time soon.
So, let’s explore the risks. The science is definitive: standing all day long is damaging to the feet, legs, and back. It both causes and worsens health problems including swollen and painful feet and legs, bunions, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis. It restricts blood flow and increases a person’s chances of developing arthritis. Recent studies also show that prolonged standing can increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries in the heart), painful varicose veins, and, in pregnant women, pre-term delivery and lower birth weights. Considering the severity and broad range of disorders, it’s surprising there aren’t federal regulations that restrict standing in the workplace.
What is a sore-footed employee to do?
- Work shorter hours. Obviously this just isn’t an option for many people who rely on their jobs to make a living. But, if you can work part-time somewhere else and minimize the time you spend on your feet, you will reap benefits in the long-term. Of course, this idea also presents a problem when it comes to benefits. Part-time workers aren’t eligible for the benefits full-time workers enjoy.
- Visit a podiatrist (try The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine) and get fitted for orthotics. If you have a pronation, fallen arch, or other structural problem, orthotics can support your foot, preventing the development of much more serious conditions.
- Rest one foot on a block or box when you’re standing to stretch muscles and relieve pressure.
- Do yoga on your days off. Yoga can help strengthen foot muscles while it helps stretch tight calves that may contribute to conditions like Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis. It will also improve posture, which can make a big difference in your overall health.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.