Jobs are physically demanding on our bodies and that goes for sitting at a computer or standing all day at work. Ever got back from a shopping spree or a night out and cannot wait to get those heels off and slip into your trusty slippers?
Half of UK workers work in a standing environment for long periods before they can rest their bodies by sitting down. This can have serious implications on overall physical, and even mental, well-being.
Is it Healthy to Stand All Day at Work?
There are many job roles which involve standing all day at work and it’s sadly becoming more common. Many employers prefer their staff to be stood up, believing it creates a better impression for customers walking in.
Someone sitting down might give the impression of not being enthusiastic or not seeming approachable. On the flipside, staff stood up ready to greet customers, often creates a friendlier atmosphere.
The bottom line is that being on our feet for an entire work day can be the cause, or trigger, of new or existing health conditions.
Being on our feet comes naturally to the majority of the population and we think nothing of it as we go about living our day-to-day lives. However, when we are talking about standing up for an entire work shift then there’s a different level of impact on our bodies.
Health Issues Caused by Prolonged Standing
Needing to stand for long shifts in the workplace can cause several health complaints. Some only involve temporary physical discomfort for employees, but others are more serious.
Here are the main issues staff spending a lot of time on their feet can face during and after their shifts:-
Perhaps an obvious effect of standing all day is having sore feet. Standing all day in your job role will mean you get tired, achy, and perhaps even swollen feet.
This might be the case more so in the summer months when it’s already hot and you might be restricted with the type of footwear you are permitted to wear at work.
Swollen legs can be a result of standing too much but it can also point to other conditions and should always be checked out by a professional.
Standing all day at work can cause a build-up of fluid to collect which is called oedema. It can also cause blood clots, and a condition called lymphedema which involves chronic leg swelling. If your legs are swelling up after a long shift, it’s worth seeing a GP to rule out any more serious issues.
Varicose and Spider Veins
When we stand for long periods, this puts pressure on our legs due to the impact it has on blood circulation.
This in turn can put pressure on veins, causing them to either cause varicose veins or worsen already existing ones. The same can be said for spider veins which are caused by blood pools near the surface of your veins.
This condition can feel a little like having the flu, where you ache every time you need to move.
It’s a common side effect of exercise as well as being required to stand in your workplace for prolonged periods. It can leave you feeling fatigued in general with little energy.
Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain
Standing all day will naturally cause some back niggles and pain. This is because standing puts additional pressure on our joints which can lead to inflammation.
Back pain will usually be mainly in the lower back but can affect other areas too. You may also get a sore neck or shoulders from being on your feet too long and this can be caused by standing in unnatural positions or putting strain on one particular area of your body.
When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, it results in a health condition known as plantar fasciitis.
The tissue on the bone that stretches from your heel to your toes, can become swollen which causes intense pain in your foot or feet. This can lead to a lot of discomfort for staff who need to spend prolonged periods standing on hard surfaces such as concrete floors.
We often think of heart disease as being linked to an unhealthy or sedentary lifestyle but it can also be caused by standing a lot.
This is due to blood not being distributed as it should which can put pressure on the heart.
Poor Mental Health
We know that getting up and walking around can greatly improve our mental state and it’s one of the key ways to feel better.
However, employees who are required to stand day after day for 8 hours or more can begin to see a slide in their mental well-being. Physical signs such as achiness and tiredness are big triggers for mental illnesses.
7 Tips to Cope with Standing at Work
It’s crucial to make standing for hours on end more manageable for individuals to protect both their physical and mental health.
Staff that are in pain or feeling low and anxious are not going to be working to their full potential. Employers must recognise this and support their staff in any way they can. Here are some tips which can help staff get used to standing all day at work.
1. Wear Supportive Footwear
It’s important to find footwear that feels comfortable and supportive at the same time.
You might prefer your ankles to feel supported by wearing boots or you might need a good pair of flats. You can also get a whole host of insoles which can help prevent shoes from rubbing and causing blisters.
Top Shoe Tips:
- Make sure the heels and arches are well supported.
- Select the right size for your feet.
- Sometimes a small heel is better than a completely flat shoe.
- Your toes should be able to move and not be squashed.
- Pay attention to uniform requirements.
- Take into account your preference when it comes to shoe wear.
2. Keep Moving Positions
When you are standing, try not to stay in one position for too long as it places a lot of strain on your body.
Moving positions often means your body gets to use a variety of muscles, without putting too much strain on a singular one. If you work as part of a team then it’s important to make sure tasks are rotated evenly.
Anti fatigue floor mats can help to make sure workers will constantly change position – you can find out what an anti fatigue mat does in our detailed guide. They create muscular micro movements to improve circulation.
3. Take A Seat
Employers should have somewhere staff can sit during quiet periods and break times. This allows different body positions to be reached which distributes any pressure more evenly around the body.
Sitting down every so often will help individuals to avoid long-term health issues.
4. Exercises at Work
There are some practical exercises you can do while in an upright position at work which can be done during quiet periods.
These exercises help support blood circulation and help keep your body tension-free. A few examples of such exercises include:
- Standing on your tiptoes: this helps to stretch your calf muscles.
- Clench your bottom: you can do this in conjunction with standing on your tiptoes.
- Stretching: this is a great way to de-stress and help relax your body at the same time.
- Shoulder rolls: this simple exercise can help with tension in your shoulders and neck.
5. Elevate The Feet
During your breaks, get those legs up so that your feet are elevated for a few minutes. This will encourage good blood flow and reduce the pressure on your veins.
Even having them raised while enjoying a quick brew can make all the difference. Having some footstools in the staff room can encourage employees to rest up during their break.
6. Compression Socks
Studies have shown that standing all day at work puts a 20% greater strain on our circulatory system.
For this reason, compression socks have become a normal part of the daily dress code for many. Wearing circulation socks helps to keep blood flowing regularly and evenly while supporting your limbs.
7. Standing Mats
Anti-fatigue mats are designed with comfort in mind, ensuring your body gets to move around. These take the pressure off your knees and hips and provide much-needed support for your joints.
They are discreet too and can sit behind a desk or in the corner of the office.
You can pay top end for one of these or go for a cheaper model with similar effects. If you are suffering from health issues due to standing for long periods, you should discuss this with your employer. They have a duty of care to protect your health at work, and should consider this type of adjustment.
- Employment law on standing at work in the UK – a look at health and safety rules on workers who stand all day at work.
- 10 tips on standing all day at work – more on what you should and should not do when standing at work to maintain good health.