On Your Feet All Day? Take These Steps to Stay Well
You hear a lot about the health hazards of sitting at a desk all day long—that it can lead to obesity and a higher risk for serious diseases—but standing for work all day long can also be detrimental to your well-being. Many occupations, like sales, nursing, teaching, cooking and manufacturing, require you to be on your feet for hours at a time. And all that standing can do a number on your body, explaining why every year two million sick days are taken because of issues with legs and feet.
As would be expected, your feet get the brunt of the problems—they can start to hurt or swell or you could even come down with an issue like plantar fasciitis (or better known as heel pain). Prolonged standing can also lead to varicose veins, exhaustion and a higher risk for a serious disease in which plaque builds up in your arteries called carotid atherosclerosis, due to the strain standing puts on your circulatory system.
So what should you do? The first step is to pick the right footwear. High heels and shoes that are flat and unsupportive are no good. Instead, get shoes that have a slight heel (1/4 inch or so) and arch support. Also look for a style with a wider-than-normal toe box so that as your feet swell throughout the day, there’s room.
Finally, make sure to take a small break every hour or so and do some stretches. Here are two to try:
1. Calf raises will help blood circulate through your feet. Stand with the balls of your feet on a step and your heels over the edge. Raise up on your toes, pause, then lower heels back down and repeat.
2. A runner’s stretch is great for when you have a few minutes between tasks. Face a wall, place hands against it to stabilize yourself, then lunge one leg back behind you and push that foot’s heel down as far as it can go (you’re stretching the hamstring here). Do this a few times on both legs before returning to work.
Photo credit: Tim Bouwer