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01-12-2017 | Research | Uitgave 1/2017 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2017

An explorative qualitative study to determine the footwear needs of workers in standing environments

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2017
Jennifer Anderson, Anita E. Williams, Christopher Nester



Many work places require standing for prolonged periods of time and are potentially damaging to health, with links to musculoskeletal disorders and acute trauma from workplace accidents. Footwear provides the only interaction between the body and the ground and therefore a potential means to impact musculoskeletal disorders. However, there is very limited research into the necessary design and development of footwear based on both the physical environmental constraints and the personal preference of the workers. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore workers needs for footwear in the ‘standing’ workplace in relation to MSD, symptoms, comfort and design.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants from demanding work environments that require standing for high proportions of the working day. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the results and gain an exploratory understanding into the footwear needs of these workers.


Interviews revealed the environmental demands and a very high percentage of musculoskeletal disorders, including day to day discomfort and chronic problems. It was identified that when designing work footwear for standing environments, the functionality of the shoe for the environment must be addressed, the sensations and symptoms of the workers taken into account to encourage adherence and the decision influencers should be met to encourage initial footwear choice. Meeting all these criteria could encourage the use of footwear with the correct safety features and comfort. Development of the correct footwear and increased education regarding foot health and footwear choice could help to reduce or improve the effect of the high number of musculoskeletal disorders repeatedly recorded in jobs that require prolonged periods of standing.


This study provides a unique insight into the footwear needs of some workers in environments that require prolonged standing. This user based enquiry has provided information which is important to workplace footwear design.

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