Waiting Tables: Demanding Work for Body and Mind

November 16, 2018

Anyone who has served in a restaurant or bar knows that being a waitress or waiter can be backbreaking and mentally taxing work. There are actually scientific studies that say waiting tables is more stressful than performing neurosurgery, because wait staff so frequently feels that they are not in control. Add to that running thousands of steps a shift, from the front, to the bar, to your tables, to the kitchen, remembering every little detail of every order, often being treated like a servant by hungry and impatient patrons.


Ask someone who has performed this type of work and they’ll tell you that when they’re experiencing high levels of stress in their life, their dreams are often recurring nightmares about a particularly terrible shift, waiting tables a long time ago. Years, even decades, later, the pressure-cooker memory is still there. Excessive stress is bad for your health, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, sometimes affecting breathing and causing excessive sweating. Sweaty palms and heavy plates are not a good mix.


High-speed, high-pressure

There is typically high employee turnover in the restaurant industry, because of the stress and the toll the work takes on mind and body. Studies show that waiters and waitresses have a 22 percent higher risk of stroke, on average, than people with less stressful jobs. Waiters and waitresses are the face of the restaurant; their tips and livelihood depend on providing a satisfying dining experience to customers. Yet they must rely on the bar to prepare the drink order, quickly and correctly. The waiter or waitress can’t serve the food until the dishes are prepared, in a timely manner and to the customer’s specifications. If something goes wrong, it is they who take the blame, who make less money.


Within this already high-pressure environment, a restaurant presents all sorts of potential dangers. When there’s a rush of activity, wait staff is moving quickly, loaded down with heavy, sometimes sizzling platters; burns are common. Navigating tables, staff, customers and their families requires balance and quick reflexes. Sharp cutlery is teetering on the edges of plates, overturned drinks offer up broken glass. Slipping on wet floors is the leading cause of injury.

Many waitresses and waiters experience physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, and back problems from carrying and balancing so much weight, and bending down to deliver dishes. The thumb works hard holding heavy trays and plates, causing carpal tunnel syndrome for many workers. Feet bear the toughest load, and there’s a high rate of chronic repetitive stress injuries, like plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot).

As with any activity, recreational or work-related, quality footwear is essential. For waiting tables, your shoes should have sturdy, non-slip soles and be made of quality material that is water-resistant with some breathability. Insert custom orthotics into those shoes and now you have heel and arch support, comfort for every contour of your individual feet, more stability for balance and security, and cushioning for shock absorption on all surfaces.

At Foot Doctors Orthotics, we understand you have a busy schedule. You can custom-fit and order our orthotics from home. Call 877-598-2471 or email us at customerservice@footdoctorsorthotics.com.