Teachers, cooks, nurses, retail assistants, servers and cashiers, spend a significant amount of their time standing. Unfortunately, prolonged standing can take a significant toll on your feet and legs. It can lead to issues like hip, knee as well as swollen legs and feet. Standing for long periods without taking a break can also lead to leg and foot complications like arthritis, varicose veins, bunions, and plantar fasciitis, just to name a few. The good news is that there are numerous practical approaches that you can use, to counter the health issues that come with prolonged standing. If your job involves standing all day, here are some measures that you can take to make your day as comfortable as possible.
Maintain Proper Posture
Poor posture can lead to serious muscles and ligament problems, especially for people whose jobs require them to stand for long. It can result in pain and long-term injury to your knees, heels, feet, and back as well as difficulty with breathing and digestion. Bad posture is usually caused by tension within your muscles, as well as a weak core. And the muscles in your feet and legs have a significant impact on your posture. For example, tight calf muscles, combined with weak plantar fascia muscles can lead to a poor foot posture and improper gait. The poor posture on your feet will then cause the body to tilt slightly backward or forward, in an attempt to gain balance, resulting in excess strain to your heels and feet. To improve your posture, you will need to correct your gait and strengthen your core. Custom insoles or orthotics can help to correct improper gait and poor posture while exercises like planks, Russian twists, arch-ups, single leg extensions and hip bridges will help to strengthen your core.
Alternate Between Standing and Sitting
As much as your job involves standing all day, it doesn’t mean that you should spend the whole shift standing. As noted earlier, prolonged standing can lead to various problems such as leg pain, lower back pain, cardiovascular problems as well as various issues for pregnant women. To avoid such issues, you can simply alternate between standing, sitting and walking throughout your shift. Depending on the demands of your jo, you take a circulation break after every two hours of standing. You can also create time to sit, especially when you are doing things like making calls or filing paperwork. Alternating between sitting and standing can alleviate the various problems that come with prolonged standing.
Vary Your Posture
Apart from alternating between standing and sitting, you also need to keep varying your posture from time to time. Varying your posture will help to engage different body muscles while minimizing fatigue and boredom. So, how can you vary your posture if your work involves standing all day? First, you can place an anti-fatigue mat or a floor mat under your feet. Its rubberized texture will not only help to soften the floor you are standing on, but it will also help to engage different leg and foot muscles as you stand. Some anti-fatigue mats are even furnished with massage mounds, which will soothe your feet when standing, thus helping to prevent soreness. Besides a floor mat, you can also use a footstool to shift your body weight between your legs when standing. It will also help to rest your legs and break your standing routine.
Use Compression Stocking
Also known as compression socks, compression stockings are designed to apply pressure to your ankles and legs, thus helping to boost blood flow to those areas, while minimizing inflammation, swelling, bad circulation and other issues that might arise from prolonged standing. Compression stockings can also be used to support veins, prevent venous ulcers, reverse venous hypertension, improve lymphatic damage and help to alleviate the pain caused by varicose veins. When compression stockings apply pressure to your ankles and legs, they usually reduce the diameter of the large veins, resulting in increased velocity and volume of blood flow. The increased pressure will also boost blood flow toward the heart while preventing blood from refluxing downward or pooling in the leg and feet.
Compression stockings are available in a wide range of lengths, colors, sizes and compression strengths. Your physician will first measure your legs to determine the ideal size that you need. It’s highly advisable to purchase at least two pairs of compression stockings. You can wash one pair and still have another pair to wear to work. And the good news about compression stockings is that they are readily available. You can find almost anywhere – in general stores, online marketplaces, medical supply stores, and pharmacies, among others. And if you don’t feel like wearing compression stockings, then you can always opt for thick socks made of spandex or nylon. Such socks will alleviate pain and swelling in the talon and heels.
Wear the Right Shoes
Wearing proper footwear will help to alleviate most of the problems that arise from standing all day at work. Unfortunately, most people rarely pay attention to the shoes they are wearing. Shoes for standing all day should fit your feet properly and provide adequate arch, ankle and sole support. If you visit a store, don’t just buy any pair of shoes and leave without fitting them on first. Also, it’s highly advisable to buy shoes in the evening, when your feet have already expanded. That way, you will avoid buying a pair that is too small for your feet. Also, make sure that the shoes you purchase have ample toe room.
Avoid high soles, studs, heels and all types that force the foot into an unnatural position. Such shoes will not only leave you with pain and discomfort at work, but they might also lead to other serious complications. Since such shoes lead to an imbalanced standing position, wearing them for long periods might lead to foot strains, tendonitis, tight calf muscles, knee pain, lower back pain, as well as instability when walking and standing. You also need to avoid flip flops if your work involves standing for long periods. Flip flops are flat and flimsy, not to mention that they don’t provide any form of support to your legs and feet. Wearing them for long periods might cause inflammation of the plantar fascia, thus causing plantar fasciitis. Therefore, if your work involves standing for long periods, you should stay away from tall shoes, flat shoes, flip flops and any other type of shoe that doesn’t provide support and cushioning.
Take Care of Your Legs and Feet at Home
Without a doubt, you need to wear the right shoes, stretch frequently and make some adjustments at work, to minimize pain and discomfort on your legs and feet from prolonged standing. However, all those measures might still not be enough to relieve the pain and discomfort completely. And that’s why it’s advisable to take care of your legs and feet when you get home after work. Here are some home remedies that you can use to alleviate pain, discomfort, and inflammation on your legs and feet:
- Soak your feet in warm water: Soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salt for at least 20 to 30 minutes can help to relieve pain. However, don’t use this approach if you have diabetes, as you might end up with foot infections and other problems.
- Soak your feet in ice: If your foot is injured or inflamed, soaking it in ice can help to alleviate such problems. But don’t apply ice directly on the skin. Instead, wrap it in a piece of thin cloth or a washcloth and then place it on your foot for approximately 20 minutes. If you have the time and space, then you can repeat this procedure for at least 2 to 3 times per day.
- Massage your feet: Massaging your feet gently can also help to minimize pain and inflammation. And you can do this by placing a golf ball under your feet and then rolling your foot gently over it for around 20 minutes. If a golf ball is not available, then you can do the same using a bottle filled with cold or warm water.
- Elevate your feet: When you get home after work, you should give your feet as much rest as possible, by avoiding strenuous activities. While resting, make sure you place your feet on an elevated platform. Ideally, the feet should be above the heart. In this way, you will boost blood flow to the legs and feet, helping to remove the toxic waste while supplying the necessary nutrients.
If the pain and inflammation don’t seem to go away even after using the above approaches, then you can try some pain relievers like naproxen sodium, ibuprofen and aspirin. However, make sure you first consult your doctor before taking any medications.
Standing for long periods when working can lead to a wide range of health problems. While it’s almost impossible to eliminate all the negative effects that come with prolonged standing, you can reduce their impact by wearing the right shoes, varying your posture, adopting the right posture, taking care of your legs and feet at home and alternating between standing and sitting. And if the pain and discomfort on your legs and feet continue to make your life unbearable, it’s advisable to visit a physician.