As much as standing is a natural body posture, prolonged standing can accelerate fatigue and tiredness. Also, standing all day at work can increase the risk of several leg and foot problems, since it places a strain on your muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.
Standing for long periods can also lead to poor blood supply to the legs, leading to soreness and pain in the ankles, knees, back, and feet.While taking breaks and wearing supportive footwear will help to minimize the health risks that come with prolonged standing, these interventions might not be enough to prevent injuries and pain.
Therefore, you also need to strengthen your lower body, to boost flexibility and endurance. If your job involves standing the entire day, here are some exercises that can help to relieve pain.
Foot Strengthening Exercises
Keeping your feet flexible and strong can help to minimize or even prevent ankle and foot pain while reducing muscle soreness. Exercises that improve or enhance your range of motion, may reduce the risk of getting hurt, while gentle and slow stretches will boost your flexibility. On the other hand, strengthening exercises will enhance the capacity of your feet muscles to support your body. Also, foot strengthening exercises will keep you active and improve your foot health. These exercises are easy to perform, and you don’t need any specialized equipment.
Some of the most effective foot strengthening exercises include toe raise, toe splay, toe extension, toe curls, and Achilles stretch. Creating time to walk barefoot on soft sand can also help to stretch and strengthen your toes while providing a great workout for your calves. Doing a few of these foot exercises from time to time, can help you to stand up more firmly. This will reduce risk of foot fatigue, which in turn reduces risk of tumbling, falling and slipping.
After spending the entire day standing, there is a high chance you will end up with tight muscles in your calves, hips, hamstrings, and thighs. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to stretch your lower body at the end of your shift, to relieve the tension in these muscles. And this is where lunges come in. Lunges are a powerful resistance exercise, which you can use to strengthen your lower body. It offers benefits such as improved hip flexibility, enhanced core strength, better balance and coordination, de-loading of the spine as well as improved functionality. Lunges are versatile, which means you can do them with or without equipment. Also, they are ideal for all age groups and fitness levels.
If you are a beginner, then you can start with basic lunges such as reverse lunges and lateral lunges. Mastering the right form and technique is vital, to ensure that you will get optimum results. If you are doing front lunges, then you should ensure your back is straight at all times. After some time, you can then increase the challenge by adding some weights. Also, you can add a dynamic angle to this exercise by doing plyometric lunges or jumping lunges. And at the end of your session, the muscles in your glutes, thighs, hips, and back, will have loosened and you will feel much better.
If you have tight calf muscles as a result of standing all day, then performing heel raises can help to relieve the tension in those muscles while minimizing the risk of a muscle strain. Heel or calf raises are an effective exercise that helps to loosen the muscles in the calves. To perform this exercise, you simply need to stand with your toes, and then lift your heels in the air, pushing with your toes. You will feel a stretch in your calves as you reach the highest point. You should then lower your heels slowly back to your starting position. The position of your leg during the exercise will determine the muscles used during the movement. You can also perform different variations of this exercise such as holding weights, doing them while seated or standing on the edge of a platform. Performing this exercise regularly will help you to build strong calf muscles, which will help your body to withstand prolonged periods of standing.
Squats are an effective and powerful strength-building exercise for the lower body. They work a wide range of muscles such as hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals as well as quadriceps. The benefits of doing squats regularly include increased leg and feet strength, a stronger core and increased spinal loading, which can lead to stronger tendons and ligaments and increased bone density. Whether they are even loaded, front-loaded or back-loaded, the hips, knees, and ankles are the main joints that are targeted when doing squats. And for people who stand all day, these joints tend to be the most affected. You can do squats with or without weights. If you are a beginner, then you should do them without weights, so that you can acquire the right form. You can then add weights gradually.
While performing squats, you should make sure that you are wearing the right pair of shoes. Considering that you will be using your feet to support your movements, the shoes you are wearing during squats should comfortably accommodate the amount of weight you are lifting. Apart from adequate support, shoes should also supply adequate traction to ensure that you have a firm footing on the floor as you do your squats. Squats are challenging and effective exercises for increasing lower body strength. You can do them at the gym or at home, depending on your preferences. Doing 12 to 15 squats at least 3 times per week will help you to improve your overall fitness level.
The clamshell is another lower body exercise, which helps to strengthen your medial glutes. Medial glutes play various roles in your body such as hip stabilization, power, and balance. Also, strong medial glutes will help you to withstand prolonged periods of standing or walking while protecting your lower back and knees from unnecessary strain. Physical therapists usually recommend this exercise to people with knee pain. The main benefits of this exercise include:
- Hip strengthening: Considering that this exercise works your medial glutes, it will bring more balance, stability, and power to your hips. As a result, there will be reduced risk of injury throughout your lower body as well as increased strength during squats.
- Glute activation: One of the main goals of performing exercises such as deadlifts or squats, is to build glute strength. However, you should first activate the muscle groups that will be doing that work, and this is where clamshells come in. Performing a few clamshells before your deadlifts and squats will activate the glutes, thus helping you to lift heavier and longer.
Strong glutes are vital for stable hips. Clamshells provide a great way of strengthening the muscles in your lower body, thus helping to minimize injuries that might arise due to prolonged standing.
Golf Ball Roll
Massaging your feet using a golf ball can help to relieve pain from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs or standing all day. It’s shape, weight, and size makes it a perfect massage tool for all areas of your feet. And when used together with other non-invasive treatments like icing, orthotics and ample rest, a golf ball massage can offer a wide range of incredible benefits such as stimulating blood flow to your feet and improving blood circulation, promoting fast recovery and healing, loosening and relaxing constricted and tight ligaments and muscles, breaking up scar tissue that causes pain, and improving nutrient absorption in the legs and feet. Golf ball roll can also relieve stress and increase the circulation of lymph fluid, which helps in waste removal. To perform this exercise, you simply sit on a chair and then place a golf ball under one foot and start rolling. After the golf ball massage, you should ice your feet to alleviate the pain further.
If you experience lower back pain when you stand for long periods, you might have a weak core. Strengthening your core will help you to avoid pain and injuries while improving your posture. Planking is one of the best ways of improving your core strength. It specifically works the lower back and abdominal muscles. As much as it’s mainly performed as part of Pilates or yoga regimens, it’s an effective fitness exercise, for anyone who wants to enhance their core strength. And the good news is that you don’t require any to perform planking. Gravity and your body weight will provide adequate resistance. During planking, you will be supporting your body using your forearms and toes. Your back should be flat and your arms should be straight. By maintaining a planking position for 30 seconds or more, you will notice that your shoulder muscles will feel strained and stretched.
Planking will also engage your abdominal muscles, as well as the muscles in the back of the thighs. You can also experiment with variations of this exercise such as the side plank. If you’ve been performing basic planks for a while, then you can now start using a stability ball to improve your balance and stamina. Apart from enhanced core strength, performing planks regularly will decrease the risk of back and spinal injuries, improve your posture significantly, improve body balance and boost your overall flexibility.
If you perform these exercises regularly, the pain and soreness that you experience after an entire day of standing will subside. These exercises can also relieve your back, knees, ankles, arch and heel pain while preventing toe cramps. Also, if you had a foot injury, these exercises can aid in your recovery and rehabilitation. If you experience any pain during your training, you should stop the exercises right away and consult your physician. People with arthritis, diabetes, plantar fasciitis or other foot injuries should consult a physical therapist or a doctor before starting any of these exercises.