Shop but Don’t Drop: Eight Tips to Prevent Aching Legs While Holiday Shopping
Lots of people spend hours or even days shopping in preparation for Christmas. And in the end, they have a lot of gifts — as well as hurting feet — to show for it. Many assume that aching legs are simply part of holiday shopping, like Black Friday deals. But things don’t have to be this way. Here are eight tips to help you prevent aching legs as you shop ‘til you drop.
Wear supportive walking shoes.
Put away those sparkly Christmas party heels and pick up your sensible, supportive walking shoes. Many people opt for athletic shoes while shopping, but there are plenty of ultra-comfy footwear options available in many styles, if you’d prefer shoes that don’t look like you came straight from the gym. Before setting out on your shopping marathon, inspect your shoes for signs of wear and replace them if necessary, as old shoes don’t stay supportive forever.
Make friends with your inserts.
Sometimes a shoe is almost perfect, but it needs a little help — say, better arch support or a more padded sole. That’s where shoe inserts come in, tweaking the fit and feel of your shoe to make it more supportive. If you have foot problems such as corns or issues with walking and standing properly, custom shoe inserts (also called orthotics) can help personalize shoes to fit your foot exactly.
Take breaks to sit and rest.
Many people like to power through a full day of shopping, walking or standing the whole time and never taking a break. But this constant movement is really hard on your body and puts a lot of pressure on your feet, especially if you’re laden down with heavy shopping bags. Every store or two, give yourself a break to sit down and take some weight off your aching legs. Meals are a convenient time to do this, but make sure you’re also taking breaks in between eating so your feet don’t get too fatigued.
Wear compression socks.
All that standing and sitting is bad for your circulation, as gravity pulls down on blood and other fluids, causing them to pool in your lower body. To help fight the negative effects of gravity, wear compression socks to encourage your blood to keep flowing back towards your core. As an added bonus, compression stockings also help fight swelling, a common but annoying side effect of spending a whole day on your feet shopping.
Look out for tripping hazards.
The winter poses lots of dangers to pedestrians — wet leaves, slick pavement, black ice — and it can be hard to spot them if you’re distracted by carrying an armload of bags and boxes to the car. A small ankle sprain or stubbed toe can quickly be exacerbated if you keep putting weight on it, so watch out for potential hazards as you walk, and give your lower body a break if you do injure yourself.
Bring a spare pair of shoes.
Your feet sweat, swell and change shape throughout the day, especially when you’re walking around a lot. Many people find it helpful to bring a spare pair of comfortable shoes and change into them halfway through the day. If your feet tend to a swell a lot, it can be helpful to bring along a pair that’s a half size or even a full size larger to accommodate the change. If your feet sweat a lot, changing into a new pair of socks as well will keep your feet cool and dry and prevent blisters from forming.
Elevate your legs.
When you get home, lie down on a couch or bed and elevate your legs above the level of your heart for 15-20 minutes. This will help blood and other fluids drain back towards your torso, boosting your circulation and reducing swelling. For added comfort, you can purchase a leg elevation pillow to make it really easy to get into the right position.
Pamper your feet.
Your aching legs have seen you through a hard day of shopping, so they deserve some extra love. Soak your feet in a cool bath, massage them, moisturize them, rub any dead skin off gently with a pumice stone — in other words, treat yourself! Once your feet are feeling good, follow up your spa treatment with some light stretches, such as rotating your ankles and pointing your toes, to loosen them up even more.
Big crowds and long lines are par for the course when it comes to holiday shopping — but that doesn’t mean aching legs have to be, too. Follow these tips to prevent aching legs while shopping and consider seeing a podiatrist if you have serious or persistent symptoms. Of course, you can always avoid the issue altogether by staying home and ordering online from websites such as Ames Walker. However you choose to do it, best of luck on your holiday shopping!
Kaki Zell - Vice President of Sales, Marketing, eCommerce at Legs-4-Life LLC Kaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She’s been working in the medical device industry for over 11 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greensboro Science Center.
Written December 2018 | Page last updated May 2022
Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts. “Effects of Gravity on Venous Return” https://www.cvphysiology.com/Cardiac%20Function/CF017
Orthoinfo. “Orthotics” https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/orthotics/