Health Issues With Prolonged Standing And Its Solution

A lot of people spend a major part of their day standing owing to the nature of their work. Prolonged standing is one of the most common causes of various health issues. These include lower back and leg pain, fatigue, cardiovascular problems, discomfort and pregnancy related concerns. Numerous experts have conducted various researches to study the connection between prolonged standing and health issues. Read on to learn about how prolonged standing at work can have a negative impact on your health. 

There are various kinds of professions that require workers to stand for long hours; they don’t get to sit or walk during their shifts. For example, doctors and nurses are required to stand for multiple hours during procedures. Similarly, hairdressers, direct care nurses and store clerks also face the same issue. 

Evidence Of Negative Health Outcomes

There are various health issues associated with prolonged standing. Each person may face a different issue; some people may face issues in their lower back, while others may experience fatigue. Below are some of the negative outcomes that people could face if they are constantly standing for long hours on a regular basis.

Low Back Pain

Prolonged standing has been linked to various kinds of low back pain (LBP). A study conducted on bank tellers revealed that people who sit all day long experience less body discomfort as compared to those who stand for longer periods. There are various studies that investigate the biomechanical indicators of the risk of LBP caused due to prolonged standing. According to these researches, chances of LBP are increased due to excessive co-activation of the muscles that play an important role in postural stability while the person is standing for long hours. Prolonged standing increases the co-activity of the gluteus medius (GM) muscle. This group of muscles plays an essential role in stabilizing the pelvis during prolonged standing. There are multiple studies which prove that excessive standing does increase GM activity. People who had experienced and reported LBP show higher GM muscle activity as compared to those who did not report any LBP.

Along with all of this, there are epidemiological associations between LBP and prolonged standing. Some studies have shown a moderate positive between both the variants, while others show that there is no relation at all. 

Cardiovascular Problems

Apart from LBP, there are various other diseases that may come with prolonged standing. Since every person has a different body, there are chances that some may experience LBP, while others may not. 

Prolonged standing could possibly have a negative impact on your cardiovascular health. It could affect your blood pressure, heart rate, leg edema, carotid arteriosclerosis, venous diseases and other orthostatic symptoms. 

According to the findings of a number of studies, prolonged standing and age have an association with higher chances of venous pathologies. One of these studies proved that people who stand for excessive time suffered from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). However, the intensity of CVI varies as some people have minor symptoms while others have major CVI symptoms. This problem later on leads to increased leg volume which further creates a lot of issues for people in their daily routine. CVI is one of the most common health issues caused due to prolonged standing. Hence, it is recommended that you change your routine or modify certain tasks to ensure your body gets the rest it needs. 

Time plays a huge role in this regard. People who’ve been doing a job with long standing hours for years may show major symptoms. They may also face problems with higher intensity. In 2000, a study was conducted to measure the impact of prolonged standing on people who were actively working for a span of 4 years. It proved that people who spend most of their hours standing face greater carotid intima media thickness (IMT) versus those who do not stand at work. 

There are various people who are already suffering from leg edema and have to stand for long hours as well. Since they stand all day long, they tend to suffer from venous edema in the evenings.

Along with all of these issues, prolonged standing also causes issues in blood pressure and heart rate. These people face changes in their physiological measures and also face discomfort. 

Due to the findings of various studies, it is evident that prolonged standing does increase the chances of cardiovascular diseases. It is potentially dangerous for the human body and health. 

Fatigue & Discomfort

Standing for too long causes fatigue and discomfort. According to research studies, workers that reported increased levels of fatigue were the ones whose jobs demanded standing for excessive hours. 

Physical fatigue is a factor that is measured by various biomechanical and physiological measures. These measures may include muscle surface temperature, muscle electromyography or postural stability using force platforms. Discomfort on the other hand is subjective. Each person experiences a different level of pain and discomfort due to prolonged standing. The type of shoes a person is wearing and the surface of the floor also play a role in this; they may not affect the physiological factors but they would certainly have an affect on people subjectively. 

A research was conducted in 2004 to study the changes in venous pressure in various types of workers. These workers included people who had to stand all day long and those who had a flexible routine. Workers who had to stand excessively faced a higher level of stress pre-work as well as post-work. 

A lot of people believe that posture also plays a significant role in causing fatigue and discomfort. To study this phenomenon, a research was conducted that studied work posture on subjective fatigue. It proved that the posture of an individual does indeed have an effect on the level of fatigue and discomfort one experiences. 

There are two types of standing methods - static and dynamic. Static standing means to stand at one place for a very long time, while dynamic standing posture means moving from one place or work desk to another. Fatigue and discomfort level tends to be higher in people who fall in the static standing category as compared to the dynamic standing posture category. Prolonged, static standing affects the postural control which leads to physical fatigue.

Standing without dynamic movement would cause fatigue even if the standing period is as short as 30 minutes; it would also cause pain and discomfort in different body parts. Age has a lot to do with how you respond to static standing. 

Pregnancy Issues

Among the various health concerns related to prolonged standing, pregnancy related issues are one. The countless people with jobs requiring to stand for long hours include females as well. Various researchers have been carried out that look into the combination of excessive standing and pregnancy on various birth related health outcomes such as spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, preterm deliveries and birth weights. One of the major concerns that was discovered was preterm deliveries. It was found out that women who stand at their work place for more than 8 hours faced higher risk of preterm deliveries. Besides, they also faced the risk of adverse birth outcomes. 

There are several women working across the globe and each has a different work environment. Some of these women have flexible hours, while others tend to have a strict routine. The type of work environment a woman gets also affects pregnancy and its related issues. A research was conducted in 2000 which studied the work conditions of women and its effects on adverse pregnancy outcomes. It was found out that prolonged standing did increase the risk of preterm deliveries by a slight margin. It was also found that if women discontinue prolonged standing they would easily be able to eliminate one preterm delivery. There is also evidence that excessive standing contributes towards low birth weight (it may not be a common issue but some people may face it).

Women face various issues at their work space when they are pregnant and one of these is the change of posture. They are required to stand in a different posture which bends their back. It is recommended that women who work while expecting should alter their routine so that they do not face issues with their posture. The time duration of prolonged standing also plays an important role in this regard. 

Pain In Legs

Pain in legs is one of the most common health issues faced by people who stand excessively as a part of their work routine. A mentioned above, chronic venous disease contributes towards cardiovascular diseases but along with it causes severe leg pain. Chronic venous disease is an illness that occurs when the valve of one’s legs does not perform its functions properly to keep the blood circulating from the legs to the heart. Instead, the blood is pooled in feet and legs which causes swelling and pain. A lot of people describe this pain as a burning sensation or they feel a cramping sensation, mostly in their calf. 

Inflammation of veins leads to chronic venous disease and may damage the valves as well. The inefficient performance of the valves also leads to varicose veins which is another chronic venous disease. 

Effectiveness of Interventions

There are multiple interventions that help you deal with prolonged standing. One of the most popular methods is wearing compression stockings. According to a study, a lot of people who had been diagnosed with CVI started wearing compression stockings and experienced improvement. Commercial hosiery is proved to have a light to moderate effect on reducing discomfort and lower body edema. There are various studies that prove that a commercial hose does help in reducing the symptoms of CVI, but the severity of the disease and the type of hose a person chooses plays an important role. It is essential that people consult their doctor before using a support hose because it may stop the lower leg venous return and prove to be harmful instead of beneficial. 

There are various types of stockings and a study was conducted to find out which type reduced evening edema that is caused by prolonged standing. It was found that wearing stockings did help in reducing evening edema. Another research was conducted where two groups were compared who stood for more than 4 hours. One of these groups wore stockings on an alternative basis while the other one did not. It was found that people who wore stockings had less fluid volume as compared to the other one. Compression stockings are also known for reducing discomfort.

Other than commercial stockings, sit-stand chairs are another effective method of intervention. Some researchers suggest that these chairs should be used if your work demands prolonged standing. They can be used with or without foot rails/footrests. A study was conducted on surgeons who stood for a long span of time during a surgery. It concluded that using sit-stand chairs benefited them and reduced LBP. 

These chairs are also popularly known for reducing discomfort and injuries. They come in various designs so it is important that you consult your doctor before buying one. Some designs may work for some people, while different ones may work for others. Studies on the effect of sit-stand workstations on the discomfort faced by workers revealed that these types of workstations helped reduce discomfort to a great extent. They also reduced psychological and physical pain as compared to the people who did not get the option to use the sit-stand workstations.

Floor Surfaces, Mats, Shoes And Shoe Inserts

Using floor mats and shoe inserts on hard surfaces has proven to be a successful intervention of muscle pain, discomfort, tiredness and leg swelling. There are different types of floor surfaces that have different effects. A researcher conducted a study on seven different types of floor and compared it to a concrete floor surface. It was revealed that flooring did have an effect on the comfort level of the people; all the floors were considered better than concrete flooring. Another study revealed that floor mats with increasing elasticity decreased fatigue and discomfort in case of prolonged standing.

Standing on soft floors usually causes less pain and discomfort even if you are standing for longer hours. A research was conducted which studied the effects of prolonged standing on assembly line workers who had different floors. Insoles and floor mats were also compared. It was found that having mats and wearing insoles is more comfortable as compared to standing on hard floors. Height, job tenure and age also played a significant role in it. Foot mats and insoles primarily reduce fatigue and discomfort after excessive standing. Using a shoe insert is rated equal to having a comfortable floor mat. The benefits of both would be evident even after prolonged standing. 

Massage Devices

Many massage devices are also available now these days which can help fatigue issues. You can use foot and calf massager, or in these days percussion guns are very common for deep tissue massage. These massage guns can help with leg knots, muscular pain and injury recovery for athletes. 

Conclusion:

Multiple studies have been conducted on the effects of prolonged standing. They may have conflicting results as sometimes there are methodological differences. However, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that prolonged standing does have a negative impact on your health. Leg swelling, fatigue, tiredness, muscle pain, body part discomfort and LBP are some of the issues faced by people who stand excessively due to their work routine. 

The various intervention methods mentioned above have proven to be helpful for many people. If you want to use any of these intervention methods, it is recommended that you consult your doctor first as some interventions may be beneficial for others but not for you. Even if the interventions are not able to solve the problem completely, they will surely reduce its intensity to a noticeable level.