Flight attendants and their feet

Many little girls dream of being super models and flight attendants. Certainly the “perks” of getting to fly and stop over at many destinations is an exciting prospect. Who wouldn’t want that experience? I know a number of Flight Attendants, and while they truly enjoy putting on that big smile to serve people; at times stop off in New York, Miami or London to do some quick shopping; there are some disadvantages aligned with the profession as with most others.

Before boarding the aircraft Flight Attendants are required to wear heels.  Their overall image and duties entail wearing heels, as it is perceived to be pleasing to the eyes. We see a number of such industry personnel, and while many have been in the profession for years and do still truly enjoy their job, they feel the effects as well. Other effects are missed moments; events held by family, friends or socially, that couldn’t be accessed due to their schedules.

Effects on the Feet

The cabin of an aircraft can be an unfriendly place to work when it comes to the feet. Being a flight attendant requires walking at steep angles, up and down aisles; therefore, foot problems are sometimes painful enough to be debilitating. But more often, feet hurt just enough to be a chronic workplace saga, ignored at the start of a shift, and basically unbearable by the end. Foot pain is most definitely not normal. Healthy feet are a key element in doing a job well, especially for people like flight attendants who are constantly on their feet. Conservative treatment can prevent, retard, and often alleviate foot problems before they become debilitating.

Foot ailments aligned to this profession

Plantar Fasciitis

This inflammation of the plantar fascia, the long band of connecting tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot, is a main cause of heel pain. Sometimes precipitated by faulty biomechanics, or abnormalities in gait, these pains can be treated with orthotics which helps to restore the foot’s proper balance. Often caused by shoes that cramp the feet in the arch area, especially women’s pumps, the condition is treatable medically through anti-inflammatory medication and orthotics.




This is pain in the ball of the foot. Metatarsalgia can be caused by many problems, such as tight shoes, calluses, and high heels without proper cushioning or support. Metatarsal cushions or orthotics can effectively alleviate the pain of this condition.


Although they can be hereditary, bunions are often aggravated by ill-fitting footwear. Bunions are misaligned big toe joints, which swell and become tender.

Corns and Calluses

Corns tend to occur as a result of too tight/ill-fitting shoes, while calluses are from excessive pressure/use of the feet and shoes with little or no cushioning.

Shoulder Bursitis

Shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff tendonitis are two terms used to define inflammation of a particular area within the shoulder joint that is causing a common set of symptoms, pains and discomfort. In the airline industry this can occur as a result of opening and closing the aircraft doors and assisting with heavy overhead luggage. Specific exercises, physiotherapy, aqua therapy, acupuncture, massage and electrical therapy can help with this.

Cabin Footwear

Although footwear regulations for flight attendants vary among carriers, some flight attendants now have the opportunity to wear attractive shoes that are also comfortable and promote good foot health while at work in-flight. Attendants who are required to wear high heels in airports should get out of them and into comfortable, supportive shoes as soon as possible.

When shopping for shoes, try on both sides, and walk around the store for a few minutes to get a good feel of the shoe. Ensure you shop in the afternoon when the feet are at its biggest. Be aware that one foot frequently can be slightly larger than the other, so always buy for the larger foot. Don’t rely on the size of your last pair; shoes sizes differ among manufacturers, and adult feet do get larger. Finally, only buy shoes that immediately feel “right”. Don’t rely on hopes that a “break-in” period will make an uncomfortable pair of shoes comfortable.


Visits to Foot Specialist                                              

Regular visits to a podiatrist/chiropodist/foot health practitioner will help your feet stay healthy and pain-free through prevention and early detection of problems. Systemic diseases, such as diabetes (which often goes undiagnosed), and circulatory problems are frequently spotted first in the foot.

If your feet already hurt, there are a variety of conservative treatment methods at a specialist’s disposal. Orthotics or Arch Supports as they also called can solve many painful problems by redistributing the body’s weight on the feet. Inflamed muscles and joints frequently can be treated with oral anti-inflammatory medication.

As you experience problems with your shoulder, back and or feet, do have a check. Your ability to perform well at work and your good health may depend on it!

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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