Some jobs just have you on your feet for hours at a time. Here are some solutions for you to make it a bit more sustainable.
Roll Out the Bottom of Your Feet
Grab a tennis ball and kick your shoe off.
Now just roll the ball around the bottom of your foot. You’ll feel the biggest difference when you roll up in the arch, but don’t forget to also roll out the ball of your foot.
After long days of standing, I’ll do this for some nice relief once I’m back home. Or if I find myself in pain, I’ll take a five-minute break and roll out both of my feet.
You would be surprised to see how much relief you can get from just this one action.
Stretch Your Calves
This one is simple. Stand on the edge of a step with your heels hanging free and then just let them slowly drop until you feel a stretch in the back.
You can do this with one leg at a time or with both.
Anyone who walks or stands throughout the day has a big line of tension up their back from their calves to the base of the skull. It all starts with the calves, so the more work you do on this area, the better.
I will also sometimes just cross one leg over the other and give them a little massage. The relief may only be temporary, but when you need it, you need it.
Touch Your Toes
And if you can’t, then you can at least reach own and wave at them.
The purpose is to stretch your hamstrings, butt (gluteals) and the various muscles of your back. It will also stretch your calves a little bit, but if you stretch your calves beforehand, then you can get a little more out of this stretch for the other muscle groups.
Most people can’t touch their toes, so don’t worry if you’re not there.
The stretch should feel easy and, while it may be slightly uncomfortable, you should not feel pain. Hold it no longer than 60 seconds. You can do it as many times throughout the day as you wish so long as you don’t have pain.
Obviously, if you have a preexisting condition with your back or hips, you should consult with a professional before you do anything that hurts it.
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Elevate Your Legs at the End of the Day
This is to alleviate fluid retention.
If you’re standing for hours on end, then you’ll need to give your body an opportunity to process some fluid which has accumulated in your lower extremities.
This can be seen at the end of the day in some bad cases where there is something called pitting edema. This is a fancy term for swelling (edema). It just means that when you push on your ankle with a finger and let go, you’ll see a pit left where your finger was.
If you see that, you’re retaining fluid down there and should elevate your legs above your heart for a while every day so that your body can process the fluid. If you’re hydrated, it will most likely just get processed by your kidneys and head for your bladder.
If the swelling gets bad, you may need to start wearing compression stockings.
What Type of Floor Are You Standing On?
If you are standing on hard floor, such as concrete or tile, you’ll need to wear extra-padded shoes.
There are tons of different schools of thought and shoe inserts that are available. My suggestion is to allot some money and time to find what works for you. Just because one guy has had success with his inserts or a special shoe, doesn’t mean that you will too.
Some shoe stores will let you demo a shoe. Ask around. Others have return policies for their inserts. If you find the right store or online outlet that will let you test out various solutions, then you’ve struck gold.
Put it up on a calendar and mark out what type of inserts or shoes you are trying for that week. Write up how you felt while wearing them and once your tests are done, you’ll be a happy camper.
It may take 4-6 weeks to find what works, but that is time well spent.
Regular Exercise Helps
There is something to be said for regularly exercising your muscles.
I would suggest that you focus on your legs and on abdominal exercises.
Having strong legs means that your walking muscles won’t get fatigued so easily. When they get tired, they tighten up and get weak and useless. Then you’ll tend to use other muscles and start to walk funny.
Have you ever seen an old security guard or someone who stands for a living and they kind of shuffle around? That is because the main muscles started to get tight and weak, then other ones had to take over and what was once a normal stride turns into a sliding shuffle.
So keep your muscles strong and you’ll be able to survive long hours of standing.
Take Up Swimming
Hours of downward pressure on your spine makes you shorter as the years go by. It happens to everyone.
Getting in the water up to your chest makes you weigh only 25-35% of what you weigh outside of the pool. Going up to your neck takes it down to about 10%.
No matter what age you are, swimming is good exercise. If you’re not up to swimming laps, walk them.
There are pools that are about chest or neck deep and you can swim/walk your way from one end to the other without going at the same intensity as the high school swim team.
You’ll get a full-body workout and your spine will lengthen during that time. It’s not much, but it does feel great getting the pressure off of it. Do this twice a week and you’ll be addicted.
There are many things you can do to make a standing job more sustainable.
I would encourage you to try:
- different footwear
- different exercise routines
- hopping in the pool
- different stretching routines
Massages and chiropractor visits can also do wonders.
It is my personal opinion that a high level of fitness prevents and cures 99% of the physical problems you could run into in life. So my honest advice would be to spend most of your time doing different fitness routines.
And, of course, there is no shortage of fitness trainers willing to help you out.