Feet in excruciating pain after 13 hour shift

Joined Aug 27, 2016
Just started my first kitchen job full time, and I'm a commis chef, but when they need me to, I also KP. (depends whether we have a KP in that day or not). 

The problem is my feet have been in excruciating agony after a 13hr shift and I don't know what I can do about it. I have specialist chef crocs that are pretty well cushioned, as well as some fabric insoles, but it's not enough. I start out fine at 9am, by but 6 or 7pm they're in such pain I go to the bathroom just so I can take my shoes off. 

Do you think gel insoles would help? Maybe double stacked? Or is this just something I'll have to get used to? Because I don't  think I can continue this job if this is what the pain will be like, though I need the money.

If it's something I'll have to get used to, I've just finished my first week and it's still no better. How long do you think it'll take? I was in such agony last night I couldn't sleep because my feet were pulsating with pain and no position was comfortable for them. This morning, the feet aren't so bad but I have a pain running up my left calf into my knee. 

Should I just continue to take painkillers until my feet eventually get used to it? Someone said anti-inflammatories would be best? I haven't been taking them, only paracetamol. My girlfriend said my feet were really swollen last night when I took off my shoes.

please help me!!


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
At this point you need medical help.  I would see a podiatrist first or an orthopedic doctor.  This kind of thing can ruin you for life if you don't get it fixed right away.
Joined Aug 27, 2016
I have a medical problem? Do you think it's treatable i.e I can still do my job? 

I have a GP appointment on 6th. I'll speak to my doctor about it. Until then, I still have another 4 shifts to do. 

Everyone at work says its normal in the beginning and you get used to it. 
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Sore legs and feet are normal. But swollen feet in excruciating agony are not.  You may simply have the wrong footwear. Gel inserts may help. Different shoes may help. But you should be able to take 13 hours without that much pain. A doctor can determine if you have fallen arches, if your feet "roll over" or any number of other issues. Standing correctly is important. With feet shoulder width apart, even pressure on both. Standing on one leg or the other wears them out prematurely.

So get to the shoe store now and try out different shoes and get some gel inserts. But keep the doctors appointment.  
Joined Aug 27, 2016
The first three shifts I did I wore trainers with fabric insoles. But last night I wore my crocs and oh my god...the pain. It was almost as bad as the first shift. 

I'll see my GP on 6th and ask for a chiropodist referral

The crocs are very new (only bought them a day before my shift), do you think that could explain my swollen feet? 

I'll bear in mind the correct posture. Thank you. I've noticed my left is always in so much more pain than my right. 

Thanks once again
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Most people who stand in one place for hours lean more to one side.

After a bit of time they start having lower back issues.

Take care of your foot problem first then find a few exercises (not too strenuous) that target your core muscles.

These are esp important for someone new to the "stand on the feet all day" types of jobs.

Joined Aug 21, 2004
Most people who stand in one place for hours lean more to one side.

After a bit of time they start having lower back issues.
An old timer once passed along to me a good tidbit to help alleviate lower back issues. Keep a brick under your prep table. Occasionally slide it out and put one foot up on it for a while. Then slide the brick over and do the other foot for a while.
Joined Aug 27, 2016
Sounds like a good idea. I'll try that (or find an equivalent). I spent all day yesterday doing prep. Thanks for the tip.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
As an owner, I'm standing in my kitchen 10-14 hrs a day.  Of course I developed flat feet in my first years, then I got really unlucky and developed plantar facsitis in both feet, and continued to bear with it for well over 5 years.

13 hrs is a long day, and the hardest part on your feet in standing in one spot--if you move around a lot, it isn't so bad, but standing on the spot really puts strain on your soles.

First things first, see a podiatrist, one of the first questions he will ask you is how your feet feel first thing in the morning as soon as you get out of bed. 

S/He might prescribe you a pair of orthotics, and these are inserts you slip into your shoes.  These are custom made for your feet. (no two feet are identical, custom is imperative)  A caveat here:  Choose a podiatrist who will take a plaster cast of your feet, do not use one who will ask you to walk over a mat with sensors--it's utter crap, and it cost me big bucks to find this out for myself.  From this plaster cast a pair of orthotics will be made, and you slip this in your shoes all the time. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $5-600.  Yes it is expensive, but you feet won't hurt, and you can continue doing what your doing without any consequences to pay in the future. 

The orthotics are only as good as the shoe you put them in.  You need at least two pairs of very solid shoes.  No slip-ons, no crocs, no funny molded foot beds.  Best thing I found was army-surplus officer's shoes with steel shanks built into the sole. Boots are too  hot for the kitchen, but work well.  Your podiatrist will show you how to see if a shoe is suitable: Grasp the shoe mid-sole in one hand, and with the other hand grasp the heel, now see if you can flex it laterally.  If it twists, pass it up, it will only cause you grief, the shoe will flex laterally as you walk, and the orthotic will rock inside the shoe and will not be able to do it's job.  This rules out a lot of cheap shoes, and some expensive ones too.  The officer- type shoes have a few bonuses though, they are re-buildable.  That means you can get them re-heeled countless times at $20 a pop, cheap shoes start at $30.  It's a lot cheaper in the long run

You need at least two pairs of good shoes, because your feet sweat, and your shoes are made of leather (stay away from any man-made material, or it'll stink within days).  The shoe should rest for at least 24 hrs before you wear it again.  Failure to do so will cause premature distintigration of the shoe--wet leather abrades very easy and you shoes will fall apart within a few months if you wear them continuously.  Treat you shoes to a "sun tan" whenever possible:  Put them in direct sunlight for an hour or two, the U.V.  will take care of any mold or fungus issues that may develop, and they smell a lot better too.

The brick idea is a good one, but if you can swing it, see if you can get an anti fatigue floor mat to stand on--especially if you're standing in one spot.  You can shove this in your locker when your done,  

In the mean time, Epsom salt baths for the feet will bring some relief.  You can usually find those electric "Dr. Scholls" type foot baths at Value-Village or charity stores for cheap.  A good 20 minute session at home in front of the TV will bring some relief.

Hope tis helps....    
Joined Jun 3, 2015
Hello there, just like everyone said you should get medical attention, but I think shoes play a big part too. I currently wear safety clogs provided by my employers and compared to my Dunlop safety shoes they are very different, I use boots that laces up till your ankles, I do feel more support compared to the ones I use now .Stopped wearing it because the laces keep tearing and couldn't find a sturdy enough lace. Together with gel insoles I can get through 15-17 hour shifts with less pain ( I do banqueting so back to back 15 hour shifts are normal ) For a newcomer having feet pain for the first few weeks are normal but swollen feet are not ( I'm a relatively heavy and talk to Asian standards haha )
Joined May 14, 2014
On top of everything else, I would say the crocs are probably not the right shoes for you, especially if you were wearing other shoes and did not have that problem. I've tried to "break in" shoes that made my feet hurt before to no avail - my feet just hurt more later. Go find a comfortable pair of shoes with arch support, then put a nice pair of insoles in that.

Your feet need to adjust to new shoes, so wearing them for the first time for 13 hours may be part of the problem.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
@newbiechef45  ,

   The  people posting a reply to you have yrs. in this industry. Don't listen to certain things, understand what they are telling you. I have 50 yrs. in and agree with

most all posts. Especially Foodpump's post. You need 2 pair of work shoes. Always alternate. Bring extra sox in and on your break, remove shoes, exercise your foot, calves,etc.

  I've worn orthopedic shoes my whole career. Whole family, food people. They learned the hard way. First went to the foot doctor. Had feet molded. 2 pairs were expensive but lasted

10-15 yrs. You can have them resoled and tightened up.

  If your feeling any type of acute pain, especially in the beginning you need to see a specialist, not a GP. I'm thinking you don't have a medical problem but Make an appointment and let them know you're having pain when standing and working long hours. If they give you a morning appointment, do not go! find another dr. Your feet are different in size and feeling in the pm. If you get a prescription for for shoes, not insoles, on your first appointment, don't buy the shoes. Find another Dr. A good Dr. will want to examine your feet at certain times. Pain, no pain, swell, no swell, etc.

  So, next shift, give those flat bottomed croc's to someone you don't like. Take a pain pill, get online, use the time your spending here to research foot and shoe care.
Joined Jan 31, 2012
When i was banqueting, my feet would kill me after about
5 hours. I started taking a second pair (different kind) with
me, stowed in my chef bag. Halfway thru i swapped
em out, helped a lot, i figger the change in shoe is what
helped. And my being 40 lbs over weight didnt help.
If you are, expect the weight loss speech from your doc. lol
Also, I assume yourr standing on rubber mats doing your
prep work? Thats essential, and required by health dept in
many areas, but many kitchens still dont comply, usually
because the dont like to clean them.
Joined Jan 4, 2011
I never could figure out how anybody could like "Crocs" in the first place. Plantar Fasciatus sucks big time. I got it just this summer. Foodpump told you what you should do ... believe him. The "brick" idea is good and the 'gel-pad" idea is good too. Bricks are a lot cheaper though. I get relief from rolling my feet on balls when I'm sitting. The best I've found were hard rubber dog chew balls and croquet balls. When I'm sitting I roll them under me feet as hard as I can take. It's painful in the beginning but feels so much better by the time I get up. 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
I never could figure out how anybody could like "Crocs" in the first place.
LOL, I have been wearing them for 10 years and absolutely love them. Just goes to show... no two bodies alike. You need to find what works for you.
Joined Jan 4, 2011
That's why there are menus at restaurants. At least w/ Crocs I think you can clean smashed meatballs off of/out of the soles better than what I'm wearing. 
Joined Aug 21, 2004
That's why there are menus at restaurants. At least w/ Crocs I think you can clean smashed meatballs off of/out of the soles better than what I'm wearing. 
Oh hell yeah. I even throw them in the washing machine once a week. I fear no meatball :~)
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