This is a guest post by Chau Nguyen. Being obsessed with running, he decided to build his own blog Running Addicted – a place where people just like him can come to get the best information, tips, and gear available.
Our modern society leads a sedentary lifestyle. A lot of us are sitting too much and not moving enough.
According to the American Medical Association, sitting for extended periods is unhealthy. That’s why in 2013, the group urged employers to offer alternatives to sitting in the workplace, such as standing work stations and isometric balls.
“The chair is out to kill us” says endocrinologist Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic.
His research has found that people with desk jobs burn 300 calories per work week, while those with physically active occupations burn 2,000 calories more.
In addition, sitting can lead to poor blood circulation, aches and pains, and a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even premature death.
Interestingly, even regular exercise may not be enough to reverse the damage caused by prolonged sitting.
“We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9, or 10 hours of sitting,” says Dr. Genevieve Healy of the University of Queensland.
Many agree that standing is the remedy to what the scientific community has dubbed “sitting disease.”
The Benefits of Standing While Working
Want to have more energy during the day? Stand up!
Standing burns extra calories, tones muscles, improves posture, promotes blood flow, and boosts metabolism as well.
In 2013, a team of researchers from the University of Chester asked 10 people with desk jobs to stand for at least 3 hours a day for a week. Their movements, heart rates, and blood sugar levels were monitored.
The volunteers ended up burning more calories, and their blood glucose levels returned to normal more quickly after a meal. Their heart rates were higher, too, which is also what happens during exercise. One participant even found that standing alleviated her arthritis symptoms.
Fun fact: Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and Benjamin Franklin have all stood while working.
The Dangers of Standing at Work
But as with anything in life, moderation is key. While standing is good, standing all day is neither healthy nor practical.
“Standing all day isn’t the answer. That’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, backaches, and varicose veins,” says Professor Alan Hedge of Cornell University.
Dr. James Levine says the emphasis needs to be on movement. “I don’t want people to think that they should stand up like still soldiers. That is not a good idea.”
Individuals who stand all day at work, such as retail assistants, waiting staff, assembly line workers, teachers, and hairstylists, are at risk of various health problems. These include poor blood circulation, swelling in the feet and legs, varicose veins, joint damage, and heart disease.
Additionally, prolonged standing is not suitable for pregnant women as it can lead to premature birth or miscarriage. Individuals with severe obesity or physical disabilities would also want to avoid standing for extended periods.
Finding The Balance
Ideally, one should switch between sitting and standing throughout the day and move around during routine breaks and whenever possible.
But if you find yourself in a situation where it’s inevitable to stand all day, here are five home remedies to soothe away the aches and pains of being on your feet for long periods.
5 Home Remedies to Relieve Foot Pain From Standing All Day
1. Comfortable Shoes.
The wrong shoes can cause or aggravate existing foot problems, so choose footwear that you can stand and work in for extended periods.
Go for shoes with a roomy toe box and a low, wide heel. Go shoe shopping in the late afternoon when your feet are at their maximum size, and have both measured as feet are usually not the same size.
If your job requires you to walk and stand on hard floors, use shock-absorbing insoles that can be inserted in your shoes. Socks are also important, as poor-fitting socks or stockings can cause cramps and blisters as well.
2. Foot Soaks.
Give your tired, aching feet a hydro massage! Here’s how:
- Fill one basin with cold water and another with hot water (as hot as is comfortable for you).
- Sit in a chair and soak your feet in the cold water for five minutes.
- Switch to the hot water. Repeat.
This home remedy enhances blood circulation by alternately dilating and constricting the blood vessels in your feet.
Another foot soak you can do is to fill a bowl with hot water. Add two drops peppermint oil, four drops rosemary oil, and four drops eucalyptus oil. Submerge your feet for 10 minutes.
3. Foot Massages.
Give yourself a foot massage with this invigorating massage oil: mix three drops clove oil and three tablespoons sesame oil. Rub into the sore areas of your feet.
If you don’t know how to do a foot massage, YouTube is a good place to find videos that you can follow.
You can also use a foot roller or roll the bottoms of your feet over golf or tennis balls for several minutes. Press hard enough so that the pressure feels good, but not painful.
4. Easy Stretches.
Try this calf stretch that runners usually do:
- Stand in front of a wall with your arms stretched out and palms against the wall.
- Step your right foot back.
- Lean forward on the your left foot and push against the wall. You should feel a stretch in your right calf and the back of the leg.
- Repeat on the other side.
And here’s a stretch that you can do both at home and at work:
- Sit in a chair and stretch your right leg in front of you.
- Point the toes to the ceiling and keep the leg engaged.
- Wrap a towel or necktie around the foot, and raise the leg slightly until you feel a stretch.
- Repeat on the other side.
You’ll need to head to your desk drawer first for this home remedy.
Grab some pencils and scatter them on the floor. Then pick them up using your feet.
Sure, this exercise may seem a bit odd, but it’s effective in relieving foot pain and that’s what matters, right?
Over to you know. Are you mostly sitting or standing during work? How does each of these feel for longer period of time? What can you do today to find the balance?