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Let’s face it, standing at work can be a pain.  If you are one of the many people whose job requires you to stand for long periods of time, you are probably familiar with the backaches and leg muscle fatigue which are the most common complaints among workers who spend most of their day standing. 

Standing for prolonged periods can reduce the blood flow to your legs and result in zapped energy and overall aches. There are strategies that you can use to improve the blood flow to your legs and increase your energy. 

Let’s talk about 4 of these strategies that you can start using today.

Get moving

While standing for a long period of time can be detrimental, moving is not.  Finding ways to move the muscles in your legs throughout the day can help improve circulation and reduce the fatigue that your legs may feel at the end of your shift. 

It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing to all of the right places.  Here are 3 examples of exercises that you can try while standing up:

Weight shifting.  Need an exercise that is not something that people will notice?  How about just shifting your weight from one side to the other.  This simple movement forces all of the muscles on the standing leg to activate while giving the muscles on the free leg time to recover. 

Knee bends.  This versatile exercise can be done anytime while standing.  Like the heel raises, discussed next, you can bend one knee at a time or you can perform a mini squat to bend both at the same time.  Activating your thigh muscles in this way can and moving the knee joints through their range will help relieve the pressure from the knee.

Heel raises.  While standing, lift your heels off from the ground.  You can do both at the same time or even one at a time.  Your calf muscles will thank you for the extra nutrition brought their way with this simple trick.

Ankle alphabet.  The alphabet is a useful tool to use to get your ankles moving and encouraging blood flow throughout your entire leg.  While standing, lift one foot from the ground.  Use your foot to draw the alphabet.  If you are able to make it all the way through, you will notice how much better your ankle feels and how much more energy your legs have. 

Take stretch breaks

Make sure to take full advantage of any breaks you may have by stretching all of your muscles that have been working hard to keep you upright. 

Great leg stretches that often work for people who are standing for long period of time include:

Hamstring stretches: With your knee straight and positioned in front of you, lean forward until you feel a slight stretch in you the back of your thigh.  Hold it for a few breaths and feel the oxygen flowing into those hamstrings.

Calf stretches: Sit or stand with your knee straight.  Simply bend your ankle so that your toes are moving toward your leg (opposed to moving away). 

Change positions

Our bodies were made to move, not just stand.  We are not meant to stay in one position for hours at a time.  If you can, change positions as often as possible. 

Leaning against a counter, standing on one leg, sitting (even for a brief period), and squatting are just some suggestions for you.  It doesn’t really matter what position you move to so long as it doesn’t cause pain, just move!

Wear good shoes

Of course, exercises, stretching and changing of position have limitations.  It is essential that you wear good shoes that are able to support your weight and provide cushion to all of your joints.

While standing all day can be hard on you, there are many ways to make it much easier on your body so that you can avoid long term problems.  Physical therapists can help you identify ways to exercise, stretch and change positions to optimize blood flow. 

If you are tired at the end of your work day, it is time to reach out to your physical therapist!