Improper Footwear Is Having a Major Impact on American Workers, According to a New Study

A new study finds improper footwear is having a major impact on Americans’ well-being.

According to a new nationwide survey from Arris Composites, 86 percent of American workers experience foot pain, making it the number one physical ailment in 2023 – outranking back, neck, and leg pain.

To no surprise, retail workers come in high in the ranking of American workers experiencing foot pain on the job. According to Arris, retail workers spend 86.9 percent of their workday on their feet, just behind restaurant workers and cashiers. This is much higher than the average American worker, who spends 56 percent of their day on their feet.

Arris reports that foot pain and discomfort has gotten so bad that more than 1 in 4 (26 percent) regret working in these types of jobs, so much so that 27 percent are considering switching careers. As 1 in 5 (19 percent) say their feet always hurt after work, it’s no surprise that 70 percent have skipped exercising and 58 percent have canceled social plans during the week because they’re just too tired.

When it comes to pain, nearly 2 in 5 (39 percent) have recurring pain and 41 percent have gone to the doctor for help. The most common areas of the body American workers deal with pain are foot, spine/back, leg, neck, and shoulder. Workers are coping with it by doing yoga/pilates, elevating their feet and legs, using pain medicine, strength training and massages.

As for what shoes these workers are wearing, Arris found that more than half (54 percent) of Americans wear gym shoes or sneakers to work, followed by work boots at 25 percent, and dress shoes at 6 percent. Additionally, 2 in 5 employees are required to wear a certain type of shoe to work, with 28 percent finding those shoes uncomfortable.

To combat discomfort, 32 percent of workers add orthotics or other inserts to their work shoes, Arris found. Most (86 percent) prefer comfort over style in their work shoes. The top characteristics Americans look for in their shoes are padding/cushioning (71 percent), support (70 percent), and durability (45 percent).

This latest data comes as the recovery footwear market is becoming increasingly competitive, with category leaders Kane Footwear, Oofos, Birkenstock and several others all delivering top-tier styles.

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