As a nation, over the last few decades, we’ve become more conscious of what represents good health and the importance of keeping fit.
In some industries, manual work and general movement are key aspects of many roles; however, as the world has turned increasingly digital over the last two decades, more and more people have become assigned to a desk to carry out their job—and they spend all day sat down, behind a screen.
To stay healthy, medical professionals advise getting up and moving around on a regular basis. You can even buy ‘standing desks’, which elevate your computer so that you can do your work standing up (however, research suggests there are no significant health benefits to this, despite manufacturers’ claims).
Of course, there are still plenty of job roles that require workers to be on their feet for many hours. Whilst any movement is good for maintaining a healthy weight and circulation, if your feet are required to support you for longer than they’re comfortably able to, this could have a detrimental effect rather than a positive one.
So, how long is too long to spend on your feet each day?
As mentioned, sitting for prolonged periods can result in poor circulation and weight gain, which could lead to heart disease and other problems. That said, standing for many hours can result in muscle strains and cramps, back pain, and/or ligament damage…maybe even arthritis and osteoporosis.
According to research, the optimum amount of hours to be on your feet each day is approximately two, though this is suggested as a mix of standing and moving around. Less than this and the risks associated with being too sedentary increase; more than this, and you could risk long-term damage.
That said, to people working in retail, hospitality and other sectors that require workers to be stood for the entirety of their eight/ten/twelve-hour shift (barring their lunchtime and breaks), this two-hour optimum may seem unattainable without a complete career change.
Even though you may not be able to do anything about the amount of hours spent on your feet. there are ways you can reduce damage to them.
From well-fitting shoes with plenty of support and a decent sole, to shin supports and compression dressings…such products can add structure and scaffolding, so to speak. They can take some of the strain from your lower limbs and feet if you’re required to stand for hours at a time.
To help with your posture and ease pain in your lower back, you can also purchase back supports and belts that can help keep your spine aligned correctly and the distribution of your weight even.
Moving from foot to foot
Even the smallest movement will help your circulation and ensure all your lower limbs and muscles are used equally, at the same rate. Slightly shifting your weight from foot to foot in a small swaying motion every few minutes will be better than standing in the same position or leaning against something.
Listen to your body
It may be in your job description to be permanently standing when not on a break; however, if you begin to experience pain in any part of your body, ask to sit for a short while and make sure you get the issue checked out if it reoccurs regularly. If your employer isn’t understanding and the pain continues, consider seeking your doctor’s advice on your suitability to work in that role.
Unfortunately, there are bad bosses out there, who only care about the bottom line of their business over the health and safety of their people. If you’re in this position and you’re prevented from taking a break when your body is crying out for one, it might be that more long-term changes need to be made. It’s unlikely your boss will come in one day and suddenly be more sympathetic; if they’re unfeeling from day one, they won’t change. You won’t get any prizes for being a martyr…listen to your body when it’s trying to tell you something. No job is worth your health or your life.
If you’re experiencing pain when you stand, come and talk to us at Treat Your Feet. We can be reached on 01226 492412 (Wombwell) or 0113 238 0330 (Morley).